Why in the world would you use “cold” stones in massage therapy?! Brrrrrrrr….that’s my first thought!
If you have had physical therapy, you may very well have experienced ice massage. Cold temperatures have their place in healing techniques. Cold stone massage is not as intense as ice, thank goodness; and it does not desensitize the skin as severely as ice does.
There are many uses and benefits of cold stone massage:
- encourages circulation
- reduces swelling/inflammation
- decrease soreness
- pulls heat from the body
- placed on the face it helps sinusitis
- helps decrease high blood pressure
- eases discomfort associated with hot temperatures/hot flashes
- relaxes muscle spasms
- decreases menstrual pain
- restores energy levels
- helps relieve the pain of migraines
How does cold stone massage cause the body to react as listed above?
When cold stones are placed on the skin, it initially causes narrowing of the blood vessels (vasoconstriction). When they are removed, the blood vessels dilate (vasodilation), bringing fresh blood and oxygen to that area, which increases circulation. Two types of stones are commonly used for cold stone massage: marine sedimentary stones (limestone) and marble, because they retain cold longer than other stones.
When hot stones and cold stones are combined and used alternatingly it increases circulation even more than when either is used alone, as it causes a pumping action. This pumping action (the Hunting Response) helps in the removal of toxins and encourages healing.
Cold stone massage should feel good if it is done properly. The stones should be cold, not cool; depending on where and how they are being used. If a stone is not cold enough it can feel absolutely awful. Move very slowly, this gives the cold stone a chance to penetrate the muscle tissue. You need to make sure that the tissue has been warmed before applying cold. The stones are drawing out excess heat, if there is no excess heat to draw out, it will only cool the area. The whole idea is to “balance”.
There are marble stone kits that may be purchased with precut stones that are ideal.
I challenge you to try one (or all) of the three techniques for cold stone massage listed below, both receiving one and giving one. I will look forward to hearing you feedback!
A kit will usually contain at least:
- 2 large crescent shaped stones that can be used at the occipital area
- 3-7 oblong shaped stones that may used on the forehead
- 2 smaller crescent shaped stones that may be placed under eyes
- 2 thick round stones for massaging the temple
You will want to place the stones in a bowl of ice water to cool. Have a towel handy to pat dry before placing on client.
Vascular Type Headaches
The large crescents can work wonders to help relieve the pounding of a headache of vascular nature. Place the 2 large crescents at the base of the occiput. Remove after one minute and replace in ice bowl to cool. Use the 2 temple stones in a circular movement on the temple for one minute. Return to the ice water. Repeat this procedure alternating the crescents and temple stones 2 more times.
Take 3-5 of the oblong shaped stones and place the first on the forehead midway between the eyebrows. Two-four more may be placed on either side of the first along the forehead. Two more may be placed on the cheek bones. Leave on for one minute, remove, replace in ice bowl to cool. Use the 2 temple stones in a circular movement on the temple for one minute. Return to the ice water. Repeat this procedure alternating the oblong and temple stones 2 more times.
To help relieve eye puffiness place the two small crescents under the eyes. Leave on for one minute, remove, replace in ice bowl to cool. Use the 2 temple stones in a circular movement on the temple for one minute. Return to the ice water. Repeat this procedure alternating the small crescents and temple stones 2 more times.
Let’s discuss some contraindications ( a specific situation in which a drug, procedure, or surgery should not be used because it may be harmful to the patient);
- Locally: open wounds, fractures, and tumors
- Heart disease
- Metal implants
- High blood pressure
- Parkinson’s disease
- Circulatory problems
- Blood-clotting disorder
- Extreme obesity
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
What do you think? Would you try it?