Hot stone massage is a variation on 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.
The hot stones are usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat. The heat warms and relaxes the muscles, which allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure, if desired. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system.
Hot stone massage is suited to people who tend to feel chilly or who have cold feet. It's also suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work the muscles without using deep pressure. People also get hot stone massage for a variety of health conditions: back pain and aches, poor circulation, osteoarthritis and arthritis pain, stress, anxiety and tension, insomnia and depression.
Massage is not recommended for certain people: people with infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds; immediately after surgery; immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor; people prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage; pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage. Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.
A typical hot stone massage is between 60 and 90 minutes long.