Hot stone massages are among the most popular spa treatments available. The practice is known to have various benefits to the mind, body, and soul which have been enjoyed by people all over the world for thousands of years. Find out more about the benefits of a hot stone massage, and what to expect should you opt for this treatment during your stay at Foxhills spa.
History of Hot Stone Massage
The true origins of the use of hot stones in massage can only be speculated upon, because there are many references of such a practice in ancient texts from across the globe.
One of the earliest mentions is found in Ayurvedic books, dating back to around 5,000 years. Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health, which comes from the practice of traditional Indian medicine. It involves a consideration of both mind and body, and looks at diet, bodily functions, energy, and massage. There is evidence in Ayurvedic texts that speaks of smooth stones being heated and used as an instrument in massage.
Hot stones also appear in ancient Chinese medicine scripts that are around 2,000 years old. They write of heated stones being applied to the torso in order to improve the function of internal organs.
Native Americans have also long used hot stones in some of their rituals. They are passed around and applied to the body, and are especially recommended to ease cramps in the lower abdomen.
These are just a handful of the known, potential origins of hot stone massage. There is evidence that shows they have been used in many other cultures too, including in Japan, Hawaii, North America, Africa and Europe. Regardless of the true history of hot stone massage, this kind of therapy has stood the test of time and continues to be very popular, because of the various associated benefits.
Hot Stone Massage: What to Expect
If you opt to try a hot stone massage at Foxhills, you can rest assured that you will be in the hand of fully-trained professionals. Our therapists will explain the treatment and answer any queries you might have.
Hot stone massages use Basalt river rocks. These are rocks that have formed out of cooled lava, and are used because of their heat-retention properties. Before the massage commences, the rocks will have been heated in a purpose-built massage stone heater. This will be set to between 50-65°C, but the rocks will be slightly cooled in water (and then dried) before being applied to the body.
Therapists will place the hot stones on specific pressure points of the body. This could be along the spine, in the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, on your legs, or on your abdomen. They will then be used to apply pressure in the same way as a conventional massage.
Other points to note include:
- If the stones feel too warm, speak up and tell your therapist. They will remove them and cool them down further.
- Massage oil is used in addition to the stones. This might be applied directly to the body, or it might coat the stones.
- Although hot stone massages are considered safe for most people, those with medical conditions should seek professional advice before booking one. Pregnant women are also advised to avoid hot stone massages.
Benefits of a Hot Stone Massage
While most spa-goers opt for this treatment for its relaxation abilities, there are actually a multitude of benefits of a hot stone massage:
1. Muscle pain relief
Much like a hot water bottle, the warmth emitted from a hot stone can be an effective method of pain relief for sore and aching muscles. The reason for this is that heat encourages blood flow, which makes connective tissue more flexible. A lot of muscle pain occurs as a result of inflammation, and improved blood flow will help to decrease this.
2. Better flexibility
Massage therapy that is complimented with the use of hot stones will also encourage improved flexibility. Increased blood flow and relaxed muscles will generally allow the body to stretch further, which means more flexibility. This works in a similar way as warming up muscles before exercise.
3. Stress relief
There is evidence to suggest that one of the benefits of a hot stone massage is its ability to engender a sense of calm and wellbeing. Those who feel tense or anxious could benefit from a hot stone massage for a number of reasons, from the soothing sensation of heat to the time spent relaxing and not thinking about day-to-day stress factors.
4. Remedy for digestive problems
Throughout history, advocates of hot stone massage have reported of its digestive benefits. When applied to the abdominal area, it’s been suggested that the combination of heat and pressure stimulate the performance of digestive organs. This can relieve ailments such as constipation.
5. Improve insomnia
Because of the relaxation benefits of a hot stone massage, many claim that this kind of treatment is effective in improving sleep. Sufferers of insomnia may find that a hot stone massage helps to quiet the mind and bring about a calm headspace, which is necessary to help encourage sleep.
6. Encourage blood circulation
The heat from hot stones combined with the application of pressure associated with massage is known to stimulate better blood flow. The heat works to open up blood vessels, and the moving pressure encourages blood to circulate around the body.
The benefits of a hot stone massage are usually felt as soon as the treatment begins. This is the reason why they remain one of the most popular options at spas. At Foxhills, a hot stone massage is among our menu of massage types, and we also offer a range of other treatments including facials, acupuncture, wraps, and scrubs.