Hot Stone Massage Therapy: {How-To}

Relax muscles, relieve aches and pains and de-stress with this popular spa treatment. If there’s no budget for a professional application or would like to try doing it yourself, here’s how…and no expensive equipment required!

Home SpaCollect smooth, flat stones (river rocks) or purchase a set of basalt stones (the black ones that most spas use)…these are volcanic material and are believed to retain heat better. They’re actually grey and turn black when wet.

Where to find them? You may get lucky at the local health food store believe it or not. If they don’t have them, see if they can order them through one of their suppliers. I have a friend who asked her hair stylist to order them in from the wholesale beauty supply company she dealt with. Otherwise, they can be found online with a bit of searching.

If using those that were collected, select varieties that have no rough spots or edges and are between 2″ to 4″ long. Scrub them clean in soapy water then rinse well.

To prepare: Boil for about 5 minutes in a large pot of water then remove (use tongs, a slotted spoon or a strainer) and set on a clean towel. Pat dry. They can also be warmed in a crockpot for about 40 minutes on low (ideal to do while taking a shower or bath first).

Testing the temperature: When they have cooled down enough that they can be held in bare hands (but are still hot), test one against the skin behind the knee or on the neck for about a minute. If the temperature is tolerable and doesn’t burn, you can begin. If it’s uncomfortable, remove immediately and try again in a couple minutes. A thin cotton sheet can also be spread over the body first to help protect skin.

It’s recommended that oil or a moisturizing lotion be applied first.

Where to place them:

  • For any sore spots, lay one (or small clusters) in the center of the problem area.
  • Arrange in pairs on each side of the spine or do in a single row along the spine.
  • Across the shoulder blades, this can help relieve stress and tension.
  • The small of the back.
  • The back of knees.
  • The back of neck.
  • In the center of the forehead.
  • The palms of hands and between fingers.
  • Feet: If there’s no partner to apply them while laying on your stomach, choose larger ones that the soles of your feet can rest on (fold a bath towel in several layers to make a foot rest, place rocks on top and then set feet on them). One can also be run up and down feet (both top and bottom) and small ones put between toes.
  • Calves: This can really loosen up tight muscles, massage slowly with the stones in an up and down direction (with light pressure).

How long to keep them on for? There’s no rush, leave them for several minutes or remove once the heat is gone.

If there is a partner or if giving someone a treatment, glide the stones gently over the body (oil helps with a smooth, even movement). This is good for those who find deep massages too painful.

Optional: Finish off with a cool one in the same spot the hot one was. Keep a bowl of rocks sitting in cold water and when ready for them, take them out one by one, pat dry and immediately apply.

Quick Tip: For best results, have a shower or bath right before starting, this will help relax and loosen up the body.

If they lose their heat too quickly, just boil them longer next time or keep them warm in a Crockpot (set on low) and replace as needed.

Update: Rose Ylang Ylang Recipe: Here’s a DIY oil to try, it’s made with a combination of oils (wheat germ, grape seed or sweet almond, vitamin E and a favorite EO). Can also be used as a moisturizer.

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