The use of hot stones has been around for centuries and has become one of the fastest growing healing therapies in the United States, Europe and around the world. For approximately 4,000 years, the Chinese have been using heated stones to relieve muscular tension and improve the function of the internal organs. The Japanese were known to have used heated stones to warm their abdomens to assist digestion.
The use of heated stones in massage was reborn with the introduction of LaStone Therapy, created by Mary Nelson in 1993. The full-body, hot-stone massage has evolved to include deep tissue-specific work, hot-stone facials, hot-stone pedicures and manicures, and hot-stone meridian therapy.
The hot stone massage therapist begins by applying oil to the body, which allows the hot stones to glide smoothly along the muscles. The client is lying face down and the heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting.
The stones used are typically river rocks or other very smooth-surfaced stones made of basalt. These stones are heated in sanitizing water before use. The high iron content in basalt helps the stones retain heat during the massage.
Hot stone massage therapy is especially good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.