Just What Is A Hot Stone Massage, Exactly?

by Jane | Last Updated: March 22, 2017 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

What Is A Hot Stone Massage?

Hot stone massage is a type of massage that involves the use of smooth, heated stones (like these) that the massage therapist places on your body, typically along the spine, and on the parts of the body believed to be related to the chakras, or energy centres.

The therapist also uses the stones in the palms of their hands to massage your body, combining the warmth of the stones with the relaxing feel and pressure of physical touch.

massage stone therapy

The penetrating heat and weight of the stones warm and relax tense muscles in order to enable the  therapist to work deeply and more efficiently, promoting rapid relaxation.

What’s Different About a Hot Stone Massage?

Whereas most massages rely purely on the touch of the therapist, hot stone massage also includes smoothed, heated river stones, which provide additional warmth and pressure.

Typically made of basalt, the iron-rich stones retain heat well, making them ideal for use in massage. River rocks are typically used because they have become smooth over time from the river’s current.

massage stones

To prepare for the treatment, the therapist heats the stones in water, using an electric heater (such as the massage stone heaters we recommend here), until they are within a precise temperature range – typically between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The therapist then places the stones on specific points on the back, aligning with pressure points as well as those points believed to be chakras or energy centres.

As well as the chakra points, heated stones will be placed along both sides of the spine, between the toes, and on the palms of the hands, in order to maximise the effectiveness of heat opening blood vessels and encouraging relaxation.

The localized heat warms and relax the muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure with their hands.

Therapists will typically use a strong grounding in anatomy to guide them as to the precise placement of the stones, as well as consulting the client on their precise health issues, as well as existing conditions.

While the use of heated stones dates back to the time when Native American peoples would heat stones by the fire, and in the first saunas, to ease aches and pains, and repair muscle damage caused by battle or hunting parties, contemporary massage therapy is generally credited to Arizona massage therapist Mary Nelson, who designed and implemented the first hot stone massage in the form that most Western individuals would recognise.

Hot stone massage is a continually evolving practice, with therapists always looking to maximise the effectiveness of treatment.

Jane NeuAuthor: Jane Neu

Jane is the creator of Complete Home Spa – “It’s a good idea,” she said. But even she has been taken aback by its success. She lives with a cranky Englishman in a quiet countryside retreat. And in the past year, has become mom cat to a spunky rescue named Mina. Connect with her on Twitter @completehomespa.