Why use hot stones?
It has been proven that one stroke of massage using a hot stone is equivalent to five strokes without.
Physiological effects of heat
The majority of cases of pain and dysfunction in musculoskeletal come from strains and over-exertions, which in turn cause tension in the muscles, fascia and associated soft tissues. This can result in a restriction of circulation, thereby sending pain signals to the brain.
Muscle spasm can cause many sensations from mild discomfort to considerable pain. Heat therapy, through the use of thermal stones, can help relieve pain caused by muscle spasm and dysfunction.
How long and how hot is the treatment?
The length of the heat treatment influences the body’s response to temperature therapy: short applications tend to be stimulating and longer treatments are usually sedative. Warm includes treatments that raise the tissue temperature to between 33 and 38 degrees Celsius. Hot is over 38 degrees, and is rarely used as prolonged heat applications can cause an increase in metabolism.
Remedial massage treatments using thermal stones are considered to be superficial. The stone, in most cases, would be warm and not hot.
The direct effects of heat -
- Increase metabolism of affected tissues - the chemical reactions in the body occur more rapidly with the application of heat, causing an increase of oxygen and nutrient intake, enhancing tissue health and performance
- Altered cardiovascular dynamics - when blood vessels are dilated they increase blood flow delivering more nutrient-filled blood to active tissues, helping in the healing process. While blood pressure will at first be raised, it then results in a slower, deeper heartbeat
- Altered blood dilution - diaphoresis (excess sweating) causes fluid to leave the body during the treatment. It is important to increase the intake of water after the treatment
- Detoxification - perspiration increases the use of the skin as an elimination organ, allowing the thermal treatment to reduce toxicity in other organs, especially the kidneys, liver and lungs
- Direct effect on soft tissues - While the impact of heat on skeletal muscle is minimal, with the inclusion of exercise afterwards, a more positive therapeutic change and improvement in overall mobility is maintained.
- promoting wound/injury healing after removal of stitches and reduction of swelling
- non-inflammatory muscle pain
- chronic tendonitis or chronic bursitis
- scar tissue
- osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (not in flare-up stage)
- wry neck and cervical conditions
There is some evidence to suggest that those suffering from dysfunction of the Nervous System - Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy - may benefit from this massage as it is lighter than traditional massage, with the same results.
Probably not! Most Wellness centres and Spas do not even ask clients about their medical history - which they should! The treatments that I carry out are for your better health and well-being - not just as a means for you to lie and be pampered.
I also refuse to acknowledge the use of the word “spa” with these premises as they are not true spas in the proper sense. Using commercially available expensive products does not make them genuine spas. A “spa” will have its own mineral water source as well as trained staff qualified to treat various conditions.
My treatment usually combines all elements of heat therapy, by increasing metabolism and treating tissues to start, then allowing the body to relax and experience the serenity of the warmth to finish. By this method you will not leave the clinic “hyped up” by the experience, but this will be in your body to be released at your will.
What are the stones like?
The only stone I use is basalt for its ability to maintain its heat for a period long enough for the treatment. Basalt is an igneous rock formed when molten lava is cooled following a volcanic eruption. When lava cools above ground or under water it happens rapidly trapping crystals not visible to the human eye.
Most of the ocean floor comprises basalt, and we are aware of this rock formation on Staffa and Giant’s Causeway. The stones I use have been smoothed over centuries and then pre-formed for ease of use.
Will it feel hard on my skin?
During the treatment you will hardly be aware that a stone is being used as it is so smooth and warm. It differs from most remedial massages in that you start on your back and the face and legs are treated first. After having the back treated, stones are placed along the spine (on a towel - never on the bare skin, unlike all the photos you see in spa leaflets) and then the legs are finished. The final few minutes of relaxation with the warmth on the back include a gentle head and neck massage to leave you refreshed.
Are the stones always hot?
No, sometimes I use Cryotherapy, which utilises cold stones, sometimes Iona marble, for the following reasons -
- if trauma is apparent, reducing the temperature aids in the reduction of tissue damage due to swelling
- in this case cells around the injury increase their metabolism in an effort to consume more oxygen and repair themselves
- cells are at risk of dying if oxygen is used up
- damaged or constricted blood vessels cannot remove waste and so to protect tissue, blood and fluid will seep into internal spaces causing bruising
- by cooling the area the vessels are constricted, slowing metabolism and the consumption of oxygen and decreasing fluid build-up
Cold generates a toning and strengthening response to several body systems, most notably the immune system.