The Purpose of Hot Stones in a Massage

Hot stone massage is a variation of the classic massage therapy. Heated smooth, flat stones are placed on key points on the body. The massage therapist may also hold the stones and use them to massage certain areas of the body. These stones, which are not just ordinary rocks, play a big role in achieving the result that you are looking to get from the massage.


Using  hot stones for healing dates back to ancient times, but it was not until an Arizona massage therapist named Mary Nelson introduced her hot stone massage technique, called LaStone Therapy, where the use of hot stones for massage began to catch on. Nelson conducts workshops to train other massage therapists at LaStone. While the original LaStone treatments continues to be widely used, massage therapists and spas have also developed their own versions of the hot stone massage using heated, smooth rocks.

The hot stones are mostly made of basalt, a kind of rock that is rich in iron, allowing them to retain heat. River rocks are normally used because they are smooth; they have been smoothed overtime by the river current. The stones are immersed in water and heated in an electric heater until they are within a bearable temperature range. The placement of the stones is usually at specific points on the back, in the palms of the hand, or between the toes for a foot massage. But this may vary depending on the client’s condition.

With the heat of the stones warming and relaxing the muscles, the therapist to applies a deeper pressure, to the heated muscle. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system. Some massage therapists put stones on points that are thought to be energy centers of the body to rebalance the mind and body.


The hot stones are never rough; they are always flat and smooth. They are used on the back and are about the size of a large egg, only flat. The massage therapist always holds the stone first before touching them to your body, ensuring that the temperature will not be too hot. Everyone, however, has their own comfort range. Be sure to speak up if the stones are too hot for you. Cool marble stones are occasionally used during a treatment, especially if there is inflammation.

During a hot stone massage, the therapists usually start by applying baby oil to the body, allowing the hot stones to smoothly glide along the muscles. Often you are lying face down, and the massage therapist uses the hot stones to massage the back. Once the hot stones have relaxed the muscles, the therapist will put down the stones and use her hands to directly massage the skin.

The hot stones may then be placed back on to the body and left there for a short period of time. You will then be asked to turn over onto your back. The message therapist may place small hot stones between your toes or on the palm of your hand and repeat the sequence. A typical hot stone massage can last for 60 to 90 minutes, costing anywhere between $50 and $200.

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