Hot stone massage is an age-old treatment which was first practiced in Hawaii and later also by ancient Chinese, Indians and North American cultures to soothe, heal and relax the body and mind.
Back in those days it was a type of spiritual ritual performed to create a bond between masseuse and 'patient' in an effort to heal what they thought back then was an illness, but what modern medicine has found to be stress.
The hot stone massage has mostly lost this spiritual link, and is now widely used as a treatment in the beauty and wellness industry.
So what actually happens?
Smooth, palm-sized basalt stones (from volcanic rock) are used, as these retain heat very well. Granite and marble are also incorporated.
A pile of the stones is warmed to a moderate heat, and then the masseur uses one of the warm stones to gently massage the client's back, legs, arms, feet and even face.
The warmth from the stone immediately relaxes the muscles: it is said that the heat penetrates seven times deeper than the warmth that comes from a massage where only the hands are used. Similar techniques are used, except that a stone massage has to be done tenderly.
Once the stone has cooled down – which takes about five minutes or so – it is replaced with a freshly heated one.
When and why should I do it?
Don't have a hot stone massage when you've pulled a muscle and need some relief. It is not a medical treatment, but rather a relaxing experience.
However, it definitely relieves tension in the muscles, relaxes you and makes you feel warm and wonderful all over. It is also said to fight fibrosis, detoxify the body, stimulate blood circulation and more. On an emotional level, it is believed that the stones help you to feel physically secure, balanced and peaceful.
What's the verdict?
Elements on Kloof in Cape Town treated Health24 to a heavenly hot stone massage session. What I particularly liked about it was the fact that it involved so little rubbing. With the hot stones heating the muscles, it's all gain and no pain. No masseuse pulling and working into your tender overworked muscles – just a slow, gentle, soothing caress. I know some do like it rough, but I found the tender "polish" almost sensual and deeply relaxing.
The hot stone on the skin also creates a fantastic sensation and you literally feel the heat seeping into your muscles.
Afterwards, I really felt the benefits. Immediately I felt my body detoxifying – I had a faint headache, I was thirsty etc. My usually knotty, stiff back felt loose and flexible, my body was vitalised and my mood tranquil. Hot stone massage gets a big thumbs up from me!
For more information contact Elements on Kloof at 021 426 2459/60, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.elementsonkloof.co.za.
Visit www.wellnessguide.co.za to find a spa close to you that offers hot-stone therapy.
(Wilma Stassen, Health24, March 2008)