Every BODY Must Get Stoned

By Laura Gordon

Let me ask you this, do you know what it’s like to be comforted under the weight of warmth? How about soothed by the cooling effect of a smooth surface? Well, you haven’t lived or at least relaxed as completely as you can until you experience a warm or cool stone massage – both treatments are members of what is called Geothermal Therapy.

It is the vasodilatation of the warm stones and the vasoconstriction of the cool stones that makes this therapy unique in its short term or long term application. Short term being 5 minutes or less and long term being 5 minutes or more.

The stones most effective for Warm Stone Therapy are basalt, or volcanic stone. Their composition includes olivine and iron-magnesium silicate. On a scale of 1 to 10, the diamond being the hardest, basalt is about a 7 and due to its density and crystalline makeup, a basalt stone retains and evenly transfers heat. The stones are warmed in hot water and placed in a pattern on the back along each side of the vertebrae as well as on the hamstrings and more. The warmth and weight of the stone has a calming as well as a comforting effect on the body. Meanwhile the warmth penetrating into the body, causing vasodilatation, improves oxygen supply to cells, elimination of metabolic wastes, relief of soreness, tension and stiffness thereby improving range of motion (ROM) and reduction of pain,  promotes a sense of well-being, increases circulation of blood as well as lymph fluid and this is only half of a long list of benefits. The benefits for the massage therapist include a more deeply relaxed client whose muscles are more pliable for work into deeper layers of tissue.

Meanwhile going from hot to cold, marble is applied cool or even cold to the body creating vasoconstriction. They are placed much the same as the warm stone pattern on the back and include other areas such as the face. Marble is a soft stone (3 or 4 in hardness as compared to basalt) made from sea life that sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor and compressed into a solid limestone that eventually became marble It has been found to be the most appropriate stone in smoothness and weight. Though crystals and gemstones can be used as well, it is the marble that retains its coolness longer because of its denser composition. The benefits of applying cool stones includes helpful for injuries or over exertion by reducing swelling and inflammation, alleviates anxiety, soothes sinus problems, eases menstrual symptoms, boosts circulation and revitalizes energy levels. The benefits for the massage therapist include a client soothed by the cool stones, more relaxed and enjoying an altered state of consciousness.

Can you think of anyone in your life right now who would benefit from either or both therapies? Please, comment below and state their symptom(s), which therapy you would use, and where else you would place the stones besides along the vertebrae column.


Resources: “Warm Stone Discussion”, Carolyn E. Nimmo-Webber, Massage Magazine, July 2006 and “Cold Stone Massage” at www.livestrong.com

36 thoughts on “Every BODY Must Get Stoned”

  1. This is a very informative blog over stone massage! I knew about and have tried the hot stone massage, but haven’t tried cold stone. I also didn’t know what kind of stones to use for both hot and cold stone massage… It’s really helpful to know what they’re called and what the benefits for each are! Myself and my sister could probably benefit from cold stone massage because we overuse our muscles at our jobs- am excited to try it and learn more about it!

  2. I’ve never had a hot stone massage. The words that get me most excited about trying new forms of massage is the phrase “enjoying an altered state of consciousness.” It’s also didn’t know that marble comes from sea life that is imbedded into limestone.

  3. My sister would benefit greatly from this technique! She has a high stress life and I would love for her to just experience something like this, she has back trouble and a hip that was broken in a motorcycle accident and she carries and pushes a wheel chair for her 14 year old ! I can’t wait to receive my massage in lab when it comes around!
    I would place the stones on the forehead,under the eyes, and on the chin then place them between the toes and also behind the ears and perhaps on the nape of the neck and the flattest part of the occipital and on the heels, back of the hands and under the iliacus.

  4. It is fun to learn what type of stone works with what kind of heat and WHY they work better that way. It make total sense!!! I know my younger brother would benefit from hot stone placed on his hamstrings to help loosen them up he plays soccer and they are constantly tight. I might have to make him let me try it on him. :v)

  5. I think any woman in my family could benefit from stone massage. Menstrual Cycles are not fun and the heat on the abdominal area and sacrum is terrific while you are massaging the rest of the body with hot stones. I would like to experience the different types of stones. I have decided that one can get more relaxation out of a stone massage, if not so loud with stones in pan, than by a regular Swedish Massage. You also do not have to work as hard.

  6. Never had an hot or cold stone massage. I’m not sure if I will really enjoy it. Just the idea of a warm rock/stone placed on my body. I’ve heard that it is very relaxing. Doing an Stone Massage will be an new and fun experience for me.

  7. I have never had a stone massage, but I have heard good things about it. I really want to try it out and I also want to give a stone to someone. At first I was a little cautious about how hot or how cold the stone were going to be, but I believe that there is a first time for everything, and see what it is like to have one.

  8. I think I would agree with Misty on who would appreciate stone therapy. Also anyone with a high stress life, which is the majority of working people nowadays. Also very informative on the origins of these kinds of stone and as to how much heat the basalt can contain in comparison to a diamond or river rocks. This is also a relatively new industries so there is profit to be made since it has become popular as of the latter years.

  9. I found this article interesting especially since we did a dry run through in class today. Just the weight of the stones being on my body was enjoyable. I cant wait to get the heated stones on my body.

  10. My sister loves the hot stone massage and was telling me about it before i even decided to become a massage therapist. I love this modality and even went and found my own stones. I really benefit myself in relaxation from the hot stones so i can’t wait to get my roaster so i can start my stone soup.

  11. Reading this blog makes me so excited to have and give stone massages! I didn’t know that you can also do cold stones. But I myself would enjoy the hot a lot more! I believe this is something I will use a lot in the future. And I can’t wait!

  12. I have had a couple of stone massages. I enjoy them because it relaxes the muscles. I try to get a full deep tissue after because the muscles are more relaxed.

  13. My boyfriend would benefit from hot stone massage a lot. Not only on his back, but his arms and wrists are very tight because he is in IT and works on computers all day. Therefore, I would place the stones along his forearm to help relieve his pain.

  14. i would use stone massage for my mom she has lupise so her body is always hurting her so that would be very good for her i think. I would of course put the stones on her vertebra and all over her body she would just love that.

  15. I have had a professional hot stone massage before. I don’t remember much about it because I ended up falling asleep during it. My brother would benefit from hot stone greatly. He is a bartender and is on his feet constantly and constantly using his arms and hands. I would place the stones on his forearms and his feet and calves.

  16. I don’t think I know anybody that COULDN’T benefit from hot stone massage! It is such a comforting, relaxing, and releasing experience! With the hustle and bustle of today, it would be an excellent tension-reliever! In particular, my step-mom is a nurse and spends 12-18 hrs on her feet daily. I think she would benefit from this greatly! Not only is her work physically taxing because of the stress on her lower body and back, but also because of the emotional stress of her work. She specializes in cardiac nursing and deals with life and death situations daily. It would be a great relief for her to be able to alleviate her physical duress as well as her emotional stress.
    The other person I believe would benefit from this particular kind of therapy is my husband. He is a victim of acute back pain. He is a welder and his work requires repetitive motions, and intense physical labor. Some days he spends 10-12 hours hunched over welding on the floor of storage tanks, usually sitting on a five gallon bucket. His back pain is nearly intolerable. Because he travels I cannot offer massage or any stretching assistance.
    For both of my choices, I would use hot stone massage. For the relaxing and soothing properties of the weight and heat. On my step mom I would focus on her calves, hams, quads, bottoms of her feet, and ankles. Also on her lower back. I would place stones along her spinal cord, 6-8, and a large anchor stone on her sacrum. I would also place smaller stones along her problem areas, such as on the bottom of her feet, back of her calves, and under her quads and hams.
    For my husband I would focus on his back, shoulder and neck area. I would place stones on the back of his neck, traps, rhomboids, and down to his sacrum. I would focus the massage on these problem areas, as well as making sure I massaged his arms, wrists, and hands thoroughly. He uses them often and they also endure lots of stress and tension.
    For both I would place stones on their hips, as in both occupations the hips and lower back are essential and absorb lots of tension and endure lots of use.

  17. I think that my boyfriend would benefit from a hot stone massage because he has poor circulation and stiff muscles along his back ,lower and upper, which cause him great discomfort.

  18. Hot stone massage is an incredible option that our field of work offers people. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to at least try the method. I personally have had a hot stone massage and it was amazing. I didn’t like the following of the cold stones in certain areas, but overall it was a great experience that I would be willing to try again in a heartbeat.
    As far as the different stones used for the hot and the cold effect, I had no idea. I am interested in incorporating this into my practice and I am glad to know the information we have learned to do that successfully.

  19. stone massage is GREAT! the idea of using hot stone for menstrual pains seems more relaxing than just a hot pack

  20. I love hot stone massage!!! I can’t wait to get a roaster while they are on sale this season and I would like to get some volcano rocks to go with it. Hot stone is so relaxing and I really like how using the stones while you massage takes the work away from applying deep pressure. I will definitely be using hot stone in my practice 🙂

  21. Just got a stone massage for the first time this week in Stone Massage. I love it! Dont know if I would get it all the time. But occasionally!

  22. I really like working with the stones. I definitely did benefit from it because I have lower back problems and the heat from the rocks just seemed to have melted it away

  23. This really gives good info over stone massage. I have never received or given stone massage before this week. I am finding it exciting to learn how to give stone massages and definitely want to use stone massage for my future career as a massage therapist.

  24. I LOVE hot stone massage. I got my first one yesterday and I swear I felt like my muscles were made of butter for the rest of the day. It’s amazing. I really think it would help my mom, who has lower back and hip problems. I would give her a heavy sacral stone and probably one more on either side to ease those problem muscles. She would love it, I can’t wait to bring my own stones home and let her reap the benefit of my schooling. 🙂

  25. Laura….what an informative blog! I have some stones that I have collected, thinking they were an ideal shape and size, but I never considered that the type of rock is just as important. Having had one wonderful stone massage, I am dying to try it on a friend who has been sharing her anxiety and frustration in dealing with a recently diagnosed illness. I know that she is experiencing a lot of tension in her back muscles, and I think that a soothing application of stones, followed by a massage will help “melt away” some of her stress. Thanks!

  26. What a great article! A lot of helpful information in here. The person in my life that would greatly benefit from this would be my wife and not just because she has to deal with me. She is on the computer a lot because of her work and even when she is home she hardly stays still. With her moving around so much and making those muscles work, they do not have any time to relax I feel that that a stone massage will force her to relax and accept the pressure of the stones, and the heat from the stones to relax those muscles and loosen them up.

  27. I really like the idea of cool stones and would like to have that tried on me. I also think it would be great to try cold and hot stone for those with an injury. For myself I can’t use heat on my lower back so using hot and cold stones would be great for me.

  28. Wow it is fascinating to learn about all the different benefits that hot and cold massage will and do have on the body. I never knew that cold stones could help with anxiety. That is something that I will definitely try on some friends and family. Along with that now that I have had a hot stone massage myself I can agree that the stones do release those tight areas of the back in a very relaxing way. Awesome blog thanks

  29. I am a huge fan of hot stone massage both as a client and therapist. I find it infinitely relaxing and one of few massages wherein I’ve fallen asleep. As a therapist, I believe that you can get really good pressure for a client with less work! Though I’ve only tried cold stone massage one time, I think my sister could greatly benefit from it due to migraines! Great blog!

  30. I think my husband would benefit from getting a hot stone massage. He does a lot of driving with his work as well as lots of time in front of the computer. His upper back is always tight so that would be great for him. I would also place stones on his face because he gets congested a lot from being in hotels all the time. I know from experience that the warm stones on the face feels amazing and can help with sinus congestion.

  31. I like hot stone massage but a lot of people I have worked on have not heard of it. I wish I had my own rocks and roaster at my house so I could show them exactly how nice it is.

  32. I can think of quite a few people that could use this. My sister is the first one I thought of because I remember a time when she was in pain from menstrual symptoms so this would be a neat thing to try on her and see it she likes it.

  33. Yes I know very many people who need a hot stone massage! Almost everyone at Harvest Fest this weekend could use one badly. Camping, dancing, and hiking in the rain can put a lot of stress and tension on a back if I don’t say so myself!
    I’ve already got appointments booked up for a whole week! When I said hot stone massage people came running.:D

  34. My mother has a lot of abdominal pain, she uses heating pads all the time to try and help herself but they just don’t seem to be doing the job. I would love to give my mom a hot stone massage to see if the heat and weight of the stones could get in deep enough to really help her with her cramping pains.

  35. I would benefit from hot stones!! I love heat! it is my favorite add on for myself and for my clients. I did not know that you could cool stones for a treatment too. thx