Hot & Cold Stone Therapy
This is a therapy that has been increasing in popularity over recent times, and comes in many forms. The origins of this therapy are truly ancient, with recorded practice in India and Aisa as long ago as 4000 years, in Anma, the oldest form of Asian massage, and then latterly by the Native American Indians and Hawaiians’.
In the 1940’s, a Canadian physiotherapist,Therese Pfrimmer, suffered paralysis of her legs, and began to massage herself using “digging” movements. Within 3 months, she had aided the reversal of her paralysis, and began to treat others with great success. By 1949 she began to train others in her formal, recognised system of Deep Tissue Massage.
Stone Massage Therapy is a blend of Thermotherapy, Cryotherapy, Hydrotherapy, Vibrational Therapy and Massage Therapy, using the healing and regenerating properties of heat and cool, the cleansing power of water, the vibrational energy of the stones themselves and the stimulation, comfort and skill of the therapists touch.
Hot Stone Massage traditionally uses basalt stones. This rock is formed by the rapid cooling of basaltic lava, erupted from volcanoes or the sub-oceanic tectonic mantel as the earth’s molten core bursts to the surface. Because of the nature of its formation, the stones are very smooth, incredibly dense and have relatively heavy metal element and silica content, which is why they are able to maintain their heat better than other stones (for example river stones created by a sedimentary process). Basalt is invariably black or grey, but can have tinges of green or redish brown where the high mafic or mineral content shows through. Stones are available that have been handpicked from river beds, that have been tumbled by the water into irregular shapes, or those that have been machine carved into precise shapes from larger blocks of the rock.
By warming or cooling basalt stones in a bath of hot or iced water, thermotherapy, cryotherapy and massage blend to create a profound effect on the body and mind. Clients report feeling deeply relaxed within moments of experiencing the heat, and it is widely accepted that for every one stroke of a therapeutically temperate stone, it is equivalent to 5 to 10 strokes of a therapists hand.
The heat enables deeper penetration of the muscle fibres, increasing blood and lymphatic flow 5 times faster and more efficiently than the same type of massage without the stones. They can be used as a standalone therapy, using them placed on, under and around the body and left there to spread the soporific heat and relaxation, or they can be held in the therapists hands to increase the effect of the discipline of massage of choice, be that Swedish, Deep Tissue, Reflexology... each is made 5 times more effective. Cold stones have a similar profound effect. Indeed, when a stone is properly chilled, it can be difficult to discern the cold from heat. The cold works better on inflamed areas, and is incredibly soothing and relaxing especially over sinuses and the eyes. By alternating hot and cold, a dramatic increase in circulation and cellular nutrition can be affected.
Cold stones can help with the reduction of cellulite when used in conjunction with the heat, and they can also help to re-balance the clients internal thermostat, particularly useful when having a longer hot stone massage therapy session.
If the thought of cold stones sends shivers down your spine, perhaps it might be helpful to think of the Roman and Mediterranean cultures of bath houses. There are hot rooms filled with steam and deep heated baths, and there are cold marble slabs and icy plunge pools. Perhaps a more modern image, the hot tub soak followed by a roll in the snow at a luxury alpine ski resort! The intense relaxation and euphoric cleansing and stimulation of the whole body is unparalleled in any other therapy. The reported health benefits are endless, from improved circulation, respiration, digestion, to reduced cellulite, increased metabolism and tonned skin and muscles. Think of the use medically of both hot and cold packs, deep heat and ice sprays and creams for recovery from injuries and surgery.
Hot Stone Placement Therapy
In most cases, your therapist will place stones on or under you to allow the heat the begin its magic while their hands work a different area. It’s a little like the comfort of a hot water bottle or wheat bag, and if the stone is underneath you, the gentle pressure is the start of the massage pressure too. Stones are not placed directly on the skin, but wrapped in a towel, in order to disperse the heat more gently. During a massage with stones, once the initial heat of the stone has reduced sufficiently with movement, the stone may then be placed on specific trigger and or energy point on your body. If a stone feels uncomfortable to you at any time, it is very important to inform your therapist immediately as we don’t believe there is benefit in being uncomfortable.
Hot Stone Swedish Massage Therapy
Swedish Massage is a lovely therapy that focuses on gentle soothing strokes. It can be either deeply relaxing, or energising, depending on your expressed preference and the therapists chosen movements. To enhance the effects of the massage 5 times, just add stones!
Some clients find that their tension is so severe that they are unable to tolerate pressure on such sensitive areas, commonly the tops of the shoulders or hip area. Using hot stones with soft touch means that the extra pressure is not needed to release the tension, and neither is spending 10 hours on a massage table (the other alternative!!).
Some clients want to feel energised and awakened by massage, so an energising Swedish massage with both hot and cold stones can really achieve this, increasing circulation, cellular nutrition, energy flow and decreasing inflammation, stagnation and fatigue.
Some clients seek massage therapy as a chance to completely turn off and disengage from the hectic pace of everyday life, they just want to feel completely relaxed and “blissed out” – Hot stones with Swedish massage can be profoundly effective at inducing an almost immediate state of total deep relaxation. The massage itself will omit the invigorating tapponment moves, heavy pressure or finely focused attention, instead flowing slowly smoothly and gently over the whole body and mind.
Hot Stone Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
If you prefer to have more pressure, or as some of our clients describe it “to really feel the work being done”, then Deep Tissue is going to suit you better than Swedish.
Clients who need specific areas of deep and long held tension addressed may benefit from Hot Stone Deep Tissue Therapy. Many of the moves are similar to Swedish, but often more focus is given to acute problem areas and at times, your therapist may work in a more intense and incessant manner. The stones facilitate such penetration of knots and tight muscles that the therapist is able to use more pressure on trigger points and energy centres.
Hot Stone Aromatherapy Massage Therapy
For the ultimate of all ultimate massage therapies, combine the massage disciple of choice, with hot stones, and a pre-blended aromatherapy massage oil to transcend the limitations of time and space to take you to new planes of health, vitality and calm. Because the skin is warmed by the stones, the oils that are both nutritionally and therapeutically beneficial can be absorbed more efficiently as well as the limbic effect being magnified by the heat. When using the aromatherapy blends of Tranquility, Detox, and Energise, the Swedish methods are the most appropriate and effective, while the Arnica blend is can be beneficial to both Swedish and Deep Tissue where muscle soreness and inflammation are an issue.
Many clients say that once they have had hot stone, they don’t go back!
Traditional Stone & Crystal Therapy Massage & Vibrational Energy Therapy
Because basalt stones are provided from the core of Mother Earth, the vibrational energy is quintessentially grounding, and some therapists believe that because the stone is also found across the known universe (on the surface of our Moon, Mars, Venus, and other asteral bodies), it can facilitate greater connection to the universe, creating an ethereal calm that other heat therapies – such as lava shells, cannot attain. There are methods available of dry heating the stones in electrically powered insulated bags, which has the advantage that the therapy is transportable into clients homes and so on, however, many holistic therapists prefer to keep to water baths for heating and cooling the stones, for the healing vibrational energy and cleansing effect of the ‘memory’ of the water on the stones. Placement of the basalt stones on the chakra points, either with or without the appropriate chakra crystal stones, has been shown to have a significant effect on the overall health of the client.
I would refer interested parties to qualified vibrational energy and crystal healers, as found on the NHS directory of complementary healers NHSTA.org
Medical History & Life Assessment
As with every therapy undertaken at Eva Rose Massage, a medical history and lifestyle assessment are crucial to safe practice and to ensure that you are getting the right therapy for you.
When you come for your first appointment, your therapist will take a medical history and lifestyle assessment. It is important that any pre-existing conditions, aches, pains and major problems are disclosed. Some of the therapeutic oils used can have contra-indications if someone has seizures or epilepsy for example. Some pre-existing conditions need adjustment of the massage in order to maintain the best outcome without exacerbating the problem and some are contraindicated. If you are being treated by a doctor, consultant or another complementary therapist, it is best to check with them that massage is agreeable to their plan of treatment for you.
The Lifestyle Assessment is an important cue for the therapist to gauge where areas of tension or problems may be concentrated. By gaining this insight about the client, the therapist is better able to minister to the whole person, the whole problem, and give workable practical advise on how to help avoid recurrence of the issues.
It is the responsibility of the therapist to elicit the information that will give a full picture of the overall health of each client at each visit, but equally, it is up to the individual to be honest and tell their therapist about any pre-existing conditions or particular problems.
Access to all of the body is desirable for Hot Stone Therapy so being naked is usual. Modesty is ensured with appropriate draping of soft towels, and your therapist will always respect your body and you by not using intrusive or unnecessary touch in sensitive areas. If you are uncomfortable with nudity, then do keep underpants on, although this means working of your gluteals (buttocks), which is the largest single muscle in your body, cannot be given. At Eva Rose massage, we respect your comfort requirements, and appreciate that some clients feel claustrophobic when fully draped in towels. We are happy for you to have as many or as few coverings as you wish, so long as you have your pubic area covered, out of respect for your therapist.
We use liberal amounts of a plant based oil blend to nourish and protect your skin from friction damage, either with or without the addition of essential oils, as your expressed preference and your medical conditions indicate during the initial assessment.
For a full body massage, you will be asked to lie on your front. You can put you face in the face hole in the table, on the crescent cushion, or have your head turned, as you feel most comfortable. Where ever your arms and legs feel comfortable is where they should be, although your therapist may ask you to move in a certain way to access deeper muscles. We can provide you with cushioned support for your legs if you get cramps in your feet and so on. The therapy begins on your back with a stroking movement to spread the oils and to introduce your skin to the therapist’s hands, gradually building up the pressure and focusing on the problem areas, one at a time. Next comes the back of your legs, then you will be asked to turn over, and your therapist will work up from your legs to your tummy, arms and shoulders. If you have requested that your head, hands or feet be included they will be included while working the closest area. In order to reach the deeper tissues hands, forearms, fingers and elbows may be used where necessary.
If you have booked a shorter session to address just a problem area, only that area will be massaged.
Heated stones may be placed under a towel for you to lie on, or wrapped in a towel on top of you. The purpose of this is to allow the heat time to fully penetrate the tense and knotty areas so that following work is more efficient. If you do not feel comfortable with any of the stones, discuss this with your therapist. It could be that the stone is too warm or cool, or just needs moving into a slightly different position, and all of these issues can be easily addressed.
The therapist will then uses stones held in her hands. She will gently stroke your skin with the stones to ensure that the heat is comfortable for you. As each client is an individual and we all have a different tolerance of hot and cold, we always like to check with each fresh set of stones used. As the stones loose their heat somewhere between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on the sixe of the stone and the amount of heat that the clients body absorbs, the stones are changed over frequently. Once the hand held stones reach a certain temperature, they may be used as placement stones, or returned to the heating bath to be used again later in your massage, depending on session focus.
If at any point the massage is too hard or too gentle for you, say so immediately. Your therapist does not want to make you uncomfortable or leave you feeling only partly treated, but work with you, within your boundaries and your time scale to make you feel well. Equally, if you have booked a full body massage, then find that you want more work done to you back, we are happy to omit other areas as required to ensure you get what you need. It is sometimes possible to lengthen the treatment time, so if this is your preference, please ask, although it may not be possible if there is another booking after you.
After your massage your therapist will leave you, comfortably covered and warm, on the massage table for a few minutes to help “set” the effect of the treatment so that you are able to maintain the improved state of well being for longer, and also for you to just enjoy the sensation of relaxation before you get ready to leave your therapist’s care.
You may feel either highly energised, or a little laid-back and relaxed. Both are normal reactions and very common. You may have a rush of relaxing endorphins that will lighten your mood and give you a comfortable feeling of overall well-being.
When you are ready to get up and dress, please do so gently - some people may feel light-headed after massage. It is advisable that you drink plenty of water after any massage therapy, as toxins that have built up in your body over time, and have got caught within muscle fibres, are released into your system and need flushing. A pint of water is always ready for you to drink as you get dressed, and feel free to ask for more if you are thirsty.
There will be areas of “erythema”, reddening of the skin. This is normal and is due to increased blood flow to the area and will fade within an hour or two. You may also feel slightly sore or tired immediately following massage. This is normal too, and is due to having released the toxins that have been trapped within the muscle fibres. It can be alleviated by drinking plenty of water to flush these toxins out of your system, and where necessary, application of cloth covered ice packs to the affected area. There are various products available from good health food stores that claim to aid recovery including cherry juice and homeopathic arnica, both of which have the added bonus of tasting good! Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.