On the Rocks
Stone Massage Provides Tension Relief and Grounding
It's a practice as old as time, but one that has been recently rediscovered. LaStone Massage Therapy, generically known as hot stone massage, is the updated version of a technique employed by Native Americans, using gently warmed rocks to massage the body. The technique provides a deeply relaxing, healing, detoxifying, and, some say, spiritual experience.
Typically, the stones are smooth, black rounds of basalt in varying sizes heated in water to temperatures between 125 and 140 degrees. Warm stones encourage the exchange of blood and lymph and provide soothing heat for deep-tissue work. Cold stones are also used to aide with inflammation, moving blood out of the area, and balancing male/female energies. The alternating heat and cold of thermotherapy brings the entire body into the healing process, with a rapid exchange of blood and oxygen and alternating rise and fall of respiration rate as the body seeks homeostasis.
During treatment hot stones are placed on energy pathways. Some are covered with a towel and positioned to apply steady warmth and pressure along the spine and neck. Others are placed between fingers and toes and on the stomach and forehead -- key spots where energy flow can get blocked. Still others are used almost as an extension of the practitioner's hands to help go deeper into resistant muscle tissue. This requires less effort from the practitioner's own body and delivers healing warmth to the hands, benefitting the therapist, as well as the client.
In addition to the physical effects, hot stone massage is also considered a kind of energy work, calming and energizing the body but with an extra element thrown into the mix to make it more than just a sensory delight. The theory is that incorporating something from nature -- the stones -- adds a symbolic dimension to this therapy, creating a primal connection to the elements for a grounding experience.