What’s So Hot About the Hot Stone Massage?

If you need to de-stress or recharge physically, why not schedule a hot stone massage appointment with your local spa?

When people get a massage, they often go with familiar techniques like Swedish massage or Thai massage. But if you want an extra touch to your rest day, add some hot stones to your massage.

Not sure what hot stones can do for you? Here’s everything you need to know about the hot stone massage: its benefits, how it works and more.

What is a Hot Stone Massage?

A hot stone massage is another form of massage therapy that uses the same techniques of the same massage. However, as the name implies, the therapist also places hot stones on specific areas of the body. These stones are usually made of basalt, which is a type of volcanic rock that retains heat.

The stones used in this massage are placed in hot water to warm them up before application. Once they are warm, they are placed onto the following areas of the body:

  • On your toes and feet
  • On your palms
  • On your face
  • On your chest
  • On your stomach
  • On your spine

Some massage therapists use stones to massage your body (while practicing Swedish massage techniques). This enables the massage therapist to apply more pressure to the muscles, helping their clients relax more.

Sometimes, cold stones are used during a hot stone massage. These stones are used after the hot ones to soothe the skin and calm any swollen blood vessels.

What are the Benefits of a Hot Stone Massage?

Massages — including ones that use hot stones — are considered forms of alternative medicine. They’re gaining popularity with people in need of complementary therapy. So, if you get a hot stone massage, you might benefit from the following.

Relief from Muscle Pain and Tension

Heat has always been used to ease muscle pain and tension. A hot stone massage can increase blood flow to the affected area. Apart from reducing muscle tension and spasms, a good massage can increase range of motion and flexibility. On the other hand, cold therapy can relieve inflammation. Depending on how your body receives the massage, alternating between cold and hot stones might be helpful.

Better Sleep

A study reported that a good massage is a better alternative to sleeping pills in adults with insomnia. According to the study, a massage can promote sleep and relaxation. Another study showed that babies who couldn’t sleep benefitted from massages, too. The study included babies being given 15-minute massages by their parents. The parents reported that their kids went to sleep faster and were more positive and alert upon awakening.

Also, anxious or painful thoughts can disrupt sleep. Receiving regular massages can keep those symptoms at bay so you can sleep well.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy is always an effective reliever of stress. Research supported their opinion. A study reported that a 10-minute massage improved the body’s cardiovascular responses.

The light pressure from the hot stones can be soothing physically and mentally. After all, a hot stone massage can feel like a warm hug in a safe space. Your problems take a back seat while your therapist works your tensed muscles.

Hot stone therapy can also help with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Relief from Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases

Hot stone massages can also relieve painful conditions like fibromyalgia, a medical condition that triggers chronic pain. A study from the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology studied people with fibromyalgia who received 30-minute massages enjoyed longer sleep, had decreased levels of substance P (a substance that helps transmit pain signals) and had fewer trigger points.

Caution: Always Talk to Your Therapist First

Before you schedule an appointment for a hot stone massage, inform your therapist about all of your medical conditions and your body’s reaction to external stimuli. Let them know if you’re pregnant or are currently dealing with health conditions like hypertension, diabetes or cardiac problems. Informing your massage therapist enables them to assess your condition and whether you’re suitable for a hot stone massage or not.

Who Can Benefit from a Hot Stone Massage?

A hot stone massage is ideal for anyone experiencing stress, insomnia and muscle pain and tension. If you have a chronic condition that causes pain, talk to your doctor to see if a hot stone massage can help you.

What are the Risks of a Hot Stone Massage?

Crop masseuse massaging back of client with hot stones
Are hot stone massages risky? (Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels)

Despite hot stone massages offering many benefits, it’s not always the best therapy for everyone. There are some people who shouldn’t have a massage — more specifically, a hot stone massage.

You might not be fit for a heated massage if:

You Have Injuries

Anyone with breaks in the skin or injuries should avoid a hot stone massage until their wounds have healed. Scrapes, cuts, severe bruising, varicose veins or sunburn increase the risks of further injury or more damage to the tissue. The massage could also increase your risk of infection since the stones or massage oils could introduce bacteria.

You Are Sick

Anyone with a cold, fever or flu should avoid a massage until they’ve recovered. If you are sick, you might spread your germs, which could affect how your body regulates its temperature. You might end up more stressed instead of relaxed.

You Are Pregnant

Massages during pregnancy can be relaxing for the mother-to-be. However, some doctors aren’t comfortable with using hot stones on a pregnant woman.

You Are Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Alcohol and drugs don’t mix with massages. Both substances can affect your judgment, impact your self-control and impair your ability to give feedback. Also, having a massage can leave you feeling wobbly or light-headed.


A hot stone massage can help reduce stress and anxiety, ease muscle pain and promote relaxation. To make sure you enjoy a positive experience, work with a trusted therapist and seek a go signal from your doctor first.  

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