The very appearance of a hot stone massages makes it synonymous with rest and relaxation. And for good reason. Quickly recognizable by the assortment of basalt used during the session, the smooth black volcanic rocks are integral to the massage and are heated before being pressed against a person’s back with either a Swedish or traditional Thai technique. The hot temperature provides temporary pain relief while the massage technique improves blood circulation and flexibility. The experience has been beneficial for many and is used widely as a form of complementary and integrative medicine (CIM).
The strategic use of temperature as a remedy has been used for centuries, with heat and cold carefully applied to relieve pain and inflammation as a result of burns, wounds, joint pain, sore throats, and more. The differences between remedies have come down to application method. Some treatments apply heat to a drink like tea to help relieve a sore throat while others use an ice bag to soothe a burn. Hot stone massage is a unique form of application that uses the stone’s innate heat absorption properties in order to evenly distribute heat to specific areas on the body. Most hot stone massages rely on stones that are heated to between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit in a hot water bath before being strategically placed.
While some home remedies are promoted with the help of anecdotal evidence, both heat and massage therapy have a growing history of clinical research supporting its benefits. Heat, for instance, has been shown to have analgesic effects on the body, providing temporary pain relief for those suffering from ailments like rheumatoid arthritis. Meanwhile, the use of massage therapy has been shown to help improve flexibility and range of motion, which is especially useful in promoting long-term relief and can have an enormous impact on a person’s quality of life.
The combination of traditional Thai massage with hot stones can be of particular use to those who are experiencing pain from a sports-related injury or are looking to gain a physical fitness edge. As we described in a previous article, Thai massage has been used by sports players as a way to improve recovery times after an intense training session. In fact, participants in one study showed improved results in tests measuring sit and reach, agility, and 50-meter sprints. By combining principles, massage therapists can add the analgesic benefits of hot stones to the rest and relaxation benefits of traditional Thai massage.
The result is an unmatched experience of rest, relaxation, relief, and recovery.
To try a hot stone massage that uses traditional Thai massage techniques, consider booking an appointment at Chaan Thai Massage if you are near Herndon or Fairfax, Virginia.
Curković B. et al., Zeitschrift fur Rheumatologie 52(5):289 (1993).
Hongsuwan C. et al., J. Phys. Ther. Sci. 27(2):505 (2015).