Swedish. Shiatsu. Aromatherapy. Tantra.
It comes in many techniques (over 200 to be exact), each offering euphoric effects on our minds and bodies. No longer only seen as a form of pampering, massage is being praised for its physical and psychological benefits.
According to The American Massage Therapy Association, 87% of consumers believe that massage can benefit their health and wellbeing.
Natural therapies, such as stone massage, are on the rise as they let more people live the holistic, healthy lifestyle they crave.
So, here’s the rundown, or “rubdown” of the facts.
1. It’s Not a New Technique
While exact origins are unknown, the practice of using stones as a form of treatment has been around for ages. Ancient healers in India, Egypt, Africa, Japan, and China have all dabbled in stone massage. Yet we all thank Mary Nelson for “rediscovering” this practice in 1993.
Early techniques are also credited to Native Americans, as they would heat stones by the fire and place them on aching muscles.
2. Things Can Get Pretty Heated
Anywhere from 110 to 150 degrees to be exact. Temperatures will vary depending on the therapist but expect those smooth stones to throw a great deal of heat your way.
Made of Basalt (a form of volcanic rock) and high in iron, the stones are known for their heat retaining capabilities. Alternatives to stones include heated towels or lava shells (but the temperature of these shells is harder to control).
3. It Can Change Your Lifestyle
Overworked, overtired, overeating… just plain over it.
You’ve tried replacing carbs with cauliflower, body rubs, and even hiring a Shaman. Like most Americans, you’re looking for new ways to lead a less stressful lifestyle – enter the stone massage. Reduced anxiety, renewed energy, and regulated circulation are a few of its benefits.
Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on your mental health, opening you up to a whole array of disorders and diseases. Massage therapy is often recommended for stress sufferers to help balance your state of mind.
On a spiritual level, massage activates and balances your body’s energy centers. The heat also works to open up blood vessels, allowing your body to increase blood flow and flush out more toxins.
Higher energy levels lead the way to more vigorous workout sessions, a faster metabolism, and a less stressful lifestyle.
4. It Can Soothe Sore Muscles
Similar to the effects one experiences in a steamy sauna, a stone massage can help relax stiff muscles. The soothing heat from the stones allows the therapist to penetrate deeper into the tissues.
Whether you over-exerted yourself during a workout or suffer from pre-existing injuries or muscle damage, this holistic approach is a natural alternative to painkillers and muscle relaxers.
5. It Can Fix Existing Health Problems
Stone massage is just what the doctor ordered. More healthcare professionals are recommending massage as a natural remedy for battling conditions such as:
- Digestive disorders
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
- Joint pain
Massage therapy can even reduce the risk of certain cancers and fight nausea in chemotherapy patients.
6. It Can Battle Insomnia
Insomnia beware – stone massage can cause a great night’s sleep.
It’s no secret that clocking in 7-9 hours of sleep per night is one of the top health tips for men and women. But many of us fall short and sleep deprivation can lead to depression, memory problems, and low sex drive.
Healthier sleep habits keep those feel-good chemicals (like dopamine and serotonin) pumping.
There’s a reason why pediatricians recommend massage as part of a colicky baby’s bedtime route – because it works. This soothing technique helps the mind and body enter into a deep relaxation, promoting a better night’s sleep.
7. One Size Does Not Fit All
Stones come in all different sizes and work different areas of the body. Big stones are placed on larger muscles (the back or belly), while small stones work for tinier muscles (the hands or between toes).
Smaller stones work well for sensitive or harder to reach areas such as elbows, knees, collarbones, and foot arches.
8. There’s a Wide Range of Movements
While it’s most common for stones to be placed flat along the spine, therapists have been known to get creative. Some begin with a more traditional Swedish massage, while others adopt a no-touching technique (all stones, no hands).
Some stone massage specialists swear by a spiral pattern for ensuring a greater flow of energy between the stones and your body. Other methods include brushing, stroking, tapping, kneading, or moving the stones in a circular motion.
9. Not All Body Parts Are Treated Equally
Newer and more expensive, hot stone facial therapy focuses on the face and neck area. This specialty is said to release jaw tension, remove toxins, and firm skin by placing small stones on the chin, cheeks, brow bones and under the eyes.
The rebuilding of damaged cells and increased lymph circulation are other benefits. To further energize, tone and moisturize the skin, this treatment ends with a full facial.
10. You Can DIY
Unable to squeeze in a session at your local spa? No sweat, you and friend can take turns tackling the art of massage. Follow these steps:
- Sanitize your stones in a sink (use hot water + a squirt of antibacterial soap)
- Heat stones in a slow cooker, large pot, or on top of an electric heating pad
- Remove stones and let cool slightly (temperature should be about 120 degrees)
- Place stones along the spine, back of legs, and arms
- Let stones sit on the skin for a few minutes then massage using your own personal technique
- Flip over and repeat on the front side of the body
It is important to mention that you should practice at your own risk. Pregnant women and those with high blood pressure or heart disease should steer clear of certain massages.
Face the Facts of Stone Massage
Stone massage is more than an indulgence…it’s a way to “zen” yourself into deep relaxation and improve your emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
It’s by no means a “one time fix” and should be incorporated into your lifestyle routine to see real results. If you’re looking for further inspiration on improving your health and wellness, check out these 15 self-improvement tips.