Have you incorporated hot stone massage into your list of treatments? For Clients dealing with significant pain or discomfort, regular sessions may lead to muscle relaxation and stress relief. This treatment is relaxing, nurturing and deeply soothing, but it may be unfamiliar to many spa therapists. Let's explore what hot stone massage therapy is and the benefits of this service for Clients who want to explore treatments beyond the classic massage.
According to Healthline.com, hot stone massage is a type of therapy designed to relax muscles and release tension. It differs from the traditional method as it combines the use of stones alongside massage, usually one that incorporates Swedish techniques. Smooth, flat stones are heated to between 110-130 degrees Fahrenheit and placed on the target areas. The most commonly used stones are basalt river rocks, which are worn smooth, and transfer and hold heat well. When using these stones, your goal is to use gentle pressure on your Client to provide tension and pain relief. By placing hot stones at key points on the Client’s body, you are encouraging their muscles to release tension, leading to a better massage experience. Explain to your Clients that the added benefits of hot stones will help them feel more relaxed, with less stress and muscle aches and pains.
The benefits of a hot stone massage include:
- Pain relief
- Muscle tension relief
- Increased circulation
- Increased deep tissue massage penetration
- Better posture
- Stress relief
- Sleep support
Before offering this treatment to a Client, they should complete a detailed form so you understand their health profile including the use of medication. Do they suffer from any chronic pain or injuries? Have they received any recent treatments include other heated massages? The American Massage Therapy Association advises: “If a Client is receiving multiple services throughout the day at a spa, one heated treatment in a six-hour timeframe is an acceptable guideline to follow.”
Hot stone massage is not for everyone. It is not recommended for people who have:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Nerve damage
- An autoimmune disease
Or who are:
- Taking medications that thin the blood or block sensory sensations
- Experiencing menopause (the treatment may trigger hot flashes)
Now that you’re considering offering hot stone massages to your Clients, let's go into more detail about how to conduct this treatment. When working on only the neck and shoulders, a session will take around 60 minutes. For a full body treatment, plan for 90 minutes. Hot stone massages for the face also exist, but these are far less common because the facial skin is far more delicate. For a facial massage, plan for a 30 minute treatment. For both treatments, keep a face towel handy in your apron to dry your hands of excess oil so the stones don’t slip from your hands.
Whether you're working on the face or body, the first step is warming the stones in a professional stone heater, an appliance specially designed for this task. Next, apply oil on your Client so the skin is soft.
On the face, the heated stones used are very small and light. The 30 minute treatment begins with applying a facial oil (recommendations below). Then, place four small stones in total on the face. Place one one each cheek, one under your lips and another on your forehead. The stones will start to cool. Once they do, place more hot stones on the collarbone and on the temple and jawline. The face should feel more relaxed and the skin should appear more soft and glowing.
For a hot stone body massage, place the stones strategically along the spine. You may also place them on the palms of the hands, the feet, chest, face, and even toes. The weight and heat of the stones relax the muscles to allow deeper pressure during the massage, allowing you to relieve the tension of straining tight muscles and let the Client benefit from deep tissue massages. As the American Massage Therapy Association says: “Hot stone can be used with several massage modalities, including Swedish massage, as well as placed on the Client’s body.”
When the Client’s muscles are relaxed, use additional oil to massage the body both with and without the stones. Use gliding strokes across the neck, back, arms and legs. Techniques may include long strokes, kneading, rolling, tapping and circular movements. During the session, the Client’s heart rate, breathing rates and their body temperature will fluctuate depending on the temperature of the hot stones. Explain to your Client that these responses are normal during a hot stone massage. Encourage Clients to communicate immediately with you if the stones are too hot, too cold, if the pressure is too much or if the stone placement is uncomfortable.
Although the primary benefit of a hot stone massage is from the heat rather than skin care products, Eminence Organics Product Support Representative Nadira Kavanagh suggests skin care products could amplify the benefits of this service. For a body massage, Nadira recommends the use of our body oils such as the Apricot Body Oil or the Stone Crop Body Oil for the best slip and glide. The apricot kernel oil, grape seed oil and jojoba oil make the skin feel incredibly soft and smooth. Apricot kernel oil is high in Vitamins A, C and E, which make the skin feel smooth and elastic. Grape seed oil offers moisturizing effects, while jojoba oil nourishes and hydrates.
Formulated with arnica, the Stone Crop Body Oil is perfect for body massages. This hydrating body oil combines stone crop, rosehip oil and avocado oil to moisturize the skin. For both oils, dispense an appropriate amount for massage and warm it up in your hands prior to application.
For a facial hot stone massage, Clients will enjoy the Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil from our Gemstone Collection, particularly if they are interested in the uplifting energy of gemstones like pink tourmaline. The Camellia Glow Solid Face Oil is formulated with powerful botanical ingredients, camellia and marula, to create an experience that’s deeply restorative and hydrating.
Are you planning to incorporate hot stone treatments into your spa’s service menu? Share your experiences with this treatment in the comments below and join the conversation on social media. You can also find out how to become an become an Eminence Organics Spa Partner here.
This article was originally written in November 2021.