We’re often told to use heat therapy or cold therapy on sore muscles. This is good advice. Heat causes stiff muscles to expand, improving blood flow and increasing mobility in the affected muscles. Adding the component of heat to massage therapy can change the experience for the better. If you’ve never had a hot stone massage before, you’ll definitely want to get one at Greentoes North.
How Hot Stone Massage Works
Most styles of massage don’t utilize instruments. The motions and pressure are typically applied by hand. Hot stone massage uses large, smooth river rocks to stimulate the muscle. The stones are heated to a comfortable temperature to avoid burning the skin. Stones are placed in key areas and sometimes used to directly massage the muscle.
Stones are placed in a special heating machine that controls the temperature. Their temperature should never exceed 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people prefer the mild heat of 110 degrees. Your massage therapist will work with you to find the perfect temperature. Stones can be left to cool if they’re a little too warm, and stones that are a little too cool can be warmed for longer.
These stones are used in conjunction with other massage techniques. Hot stones frequently accompany the pressure and motion style of Swedish massage, where long strokes are used to loosen and relax the warmed muscle. Both techniques work in synergy to create a relaxing and healing massage therapy experience.
What A Hot Stone Massage Does
Massage is for more than just muscular health. A great massage boasts benefits for the mind as well as the body. Many people feel that the warmth of a hot stone massage makes the experience far more relaxing than a typical massage. Think of a how a hot shower feels when compared to a warm shower. A warm shower will get you clean, but a hot shower will leave you feeling limber, soothed, and maybe even a little sleepy.
It Eases Achy Muscles
Cold treatments are used for inflamed muscles. Cooler temperatures shrink swollen muscles back down to their original size. Hot stone massage is the exact opposite. Tense muscles, reduced flexibility, and muscular spasms are treated with hot stones. The heat opens the pathways within the muscles and helps to flush them full of rich, oxygenated blood.
At the end of a hot stone massage, your range of motion should improve. Flexibility will be better, and a general sense of calm will ease discomfort within the treated muscle group. These benefits will last long after the massage and will improve on a larger scale with regular hot stone massages.
It Helps You Get Great Sleep
Numerous studies from the past two decades show a clear link between a high quality massage and a high quality of sleep. A relaxing massage that stimulates the body will encourage the brain to produce stress fighting hormones. When the mind and body are both at ease, you’ll sleep like a baby. Some people even fall asleep during their massages.
It Eases Medical Treatment Side Effects
People undergoing cancer treatment are often left to deal with a whole host of unpleasant side effects. Many cancer fighters deal with depression, nausea, pain, difficulty sleeping, and severe fatigue. Cancer researchers and treatment doctors will sometimes encourage massage as a form of complementary medicine. While massage itself cannot treat or mitigate cancer, it can help with the side effects of aggressive cancer treatment. Massage may improve the quality of life for people who are finding their way to recovery.
It Relieves Chronic Pain Symptoms
Chronic pain conditions and autoimmune disorders that cause pain during flare ups can be better managed when massage therapy is added to a well rounded treatment plan. Conditions like neuropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and even Crohn’s disease can cause widespread pain all over the body.
Chronic pain can take a serious toll on patients. It limits their ability to stretch and exercise, two important things for physical health. If presence of pain and the severity of the body’s pain response can be managed, many people with chronic pain are able to live fairly normal lives.
A significant number of pain management professionals will recommend massage therapy as part of a comprehensive pain management plan. If you live with a condition that causes chronic pain, speak to your doctor about incorporating massage therapy. If you’re an ideal candidate, you’ll begin to see modest improvements immediately after your first hot stone massage. Your massage therapist and your doctor can work together to determine the frequency of your massages.
It Boosts the Immune System
Hot stone massage (and the Swedish techniques used during a hot stone massage) might help the immune system. Many factors work together to diminish the immune system. High levels of stress, water retention, and poor circulation can combine to hinder the body’s ability to naturally fight off infections and invading germs. Since massage therapy addresses all three of those concerns, promising research suggests that regular massage can fortify the immune system.
It Relieves Stress
Massage boasts big benefits for the brain. During a massage, the brain responds at the same time the body responds. It releases hormones that make you feel better. Stress hormones (like cortisol) are quickly wiped away by the body’s happy chemicals. The relaxation of a massage and the easing of physical pain will cause the brain to create happy hormones. These hormones are responsible for improved mood, reduced stress, and even a better quality of sleep.
Studies show that busy professionals who regularly receive massages report being less stressed at work. When you’re less stressed, your life is better.
Why A Hot Stone Massage Is Different From Other Massage Techniques
Hot stone massages obviously utilize hot stones – something no other massage style provides. It’s what the hot stones do that make this style of massage an ideal choice for someone with a low pain tolerance, sensitive muscles, or someone prone to bruising. Since the hot stones are able to effectively reach deep tissue without applying firm pressure, this massage is a game changer. People who want a deep tissue massage experience but find the traditional method of deep tissue massage to be uncomfortable will see that hot stone massage is a promising alternative.
While slight discomfort is normal for some types of intensive massage, your hot stone massage should never be painful. If you feel pain or significant discomfort at any point, let your massage therapist know immediately. Cooler stones or the lightest possible pressure will make the experience more enjoyable for you.
Preparing For A Hot Stone Massage
It helps to drink water before receiving a massage. If the body is well hydrated, it’s more likely to respond positively to massage therapy. It’s best not to eat immediately before a massage – save lunch for after your appointment.
Before your massage begins, speak with your massage therapist about any special concerns you may have. Some people prefer massages specifically for their problem areas. Others might enjoy a full body hot stone massage.
Massage oil is applied to the skin, and your massage therapist will use the stones to treat your muscles. You can let your massage therapist know if you’d prefer the stones be warmer or cooler. Everyone has different preferences, and massage therapists are happy to accommodate everyone.
Sessions can be as short or as long as you need them to be. For an intensive hot stone massage, plan to spend about 90 minutes with your massage therapist.
Am I A Candidate For Hot Stone Massage?
Some people may not be ideal candidates for hot stone massages. If you have diabetes, blood clots, thin blood, or open wounds, you may not benefit from a hot stone massage. Hot stone massage might be too intense for people who are still recovering from surgery and people with bone fractures. Varicose veins, certain heart conditions, and some migraine disorders might be exacerbated by massage. If you’re unsure, ask your doctor.
Some pregnant women might enjoy massages for the aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Pregnant women should only enjoy massages with the approval of their doctors. Even if their doctor approves them for massage therapy, hot stone massages typically aren’t appropriate for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant and you’d like a massage, we recommend our prenatal massage. It’s designed for moms to be.
How Often Should I Get A Hot Stone Massage?
You’ll see benefits from one hot stone massage. These benefits may be temporary if you don’t regularly schedule massage appointments. People with chronic pain will need to adhere to a massage schedule. Your massage therapist will be able to tell you how often massages are necessary. It’s safe to assume that at least a monthly massage will be necessary to experience ongoing benefits.
Booking Your First Hot Stone Massage
If you’ve never had a hot stone massage before, we’d love to make your first experience incredible. We invite you to find your calm at Greentoes. You can book your hot stone massage at our North Tucson location online or by phone. Let our experienced massage therapists help you feel your best!