In the 21st-century, there are many ways to relax, relieve pain, and alleviate stress and anxiety. Some of those ways are traditional, such as the use of prescription drugs or surgery. Some other ways to treat such symptoms are alternative and natural. One of these methods is hot stone massage and aromatherapy, which is further explored below.
What Is Massage?
To explore the definition of hot stone massage, massage, in general, must first be explained. This is also known as massage therapy. Massage is a form of natural treatment that involves rubbing, kneading, and pressing the skin to relax the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Massage is not a part of conventional medicine, and therefore, is not typically covered by insurance. Furthermore, it’s generally advised to seek a medical opinion if you choose to opt for massage as opposed to traditional medical care. However, conventional medicine is incorporating massage more and more. Some of the conditions shown to be helped by massage include muscle pain, stress and anxiety, digestive disorders, and headaches.
If you are suffering from conditions such as burns, fractures, bleeding disorders, extreme osteoporosis, or if you are pregnant, for example, massage may not be ideal for you. These are good cases of where you should seek the opinion of a medical professional before you go for massage therapy.1
What Is Hot Stone Massage?
Under the category of massage therapy is hot stone massage. With this form of massage, heated stones, combined with oil, are placed on the skin in various places. The heat from the stones relaxes the muscles but also expands blood vessels for better blood flow.
Hot stone massage began thousands of years ago in places like India, Japan, and China, and is used today to relieve stiff and sore muscles, reduce pain, and boost energy. The technique is also useful for eliminating stress and anxiety.
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As reported by Fremont College, a woman by the name of Mary Nelson created the modern version of a hot stone massage.2,3 Movements, similar to those used in Swedish massage, are also incorporated. Swedish massage, the most popular of the categories of massage, uses strokes that are varied when it comes to speed, depth, duration, pressure, and continuity.4
The kinds of stones used in hot stone massage are usually of the Basalt variety. These kinds of rocks are smoothed naturally in rivers, lakes, or the ocean and are rich in iron. Because of their nature, they are good for retaining heat.
Due to the unique nature of hot stone massage, you should only seek a person qualified in the practice to perform the massage. For the typical process of a hot stone massage, the stones are cleaned and warmed, the massage therapist warms your muscles with Swedish massage techniques, and the stones are then placed on certain parts of your body, with a sheet or towel between the stones and your skin. These locations are determined by a combination of anatomy and energy points.
Massage and Aromatherapy
Hot stone massage, as well as other forms of massage, are often combined with essential oils. This is because the essential oils are soothing to the skin and also are beneficial when inhaled. Massage therapy combined with essential oils falls under the category of aromatherapy.5
What Are Essential Oils?
To understand the meaning of aromatherapy, it’s important to understand what essential oils are. Essential oils are the concentrated oils of plants and herbs. Essential oils are pure and not mixed with any other ingredients. These are oils that date back many thousands of years and were used in their early stages by the Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, and Chinese. Essential oils are natural healers for a wide variety of conditions.6
There are three common ways to benefit from essential oils. One way is to inhale the oils through the use of an essential oil diffuser. Another way is to put a few drops of essential oil into a warm bath. But one common way to benefit from essential oils is by way of a massage.
This is the essence of aromatherapy massage. The essential oil is mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, and then applied to the skin. The most common essential oils used during a massage include lavender, tea tree, lemon, eucalyptus, sandalwood, and rosemary. Each essential oil has different effects. For example, lavender has a calming effect, while rosemary has a cleansing and energizing effect on the body.
Applying the essential oils to the skin is beneficial, but breathing in the aroma is beneficial too. The limbic system is connected to the nostrils. Therefore, when a person breathes in essential oils, their blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels, breathing, digestion, memory, and immune system are positively impacted.7
Hot Stone Massage and Aromatherapy for the Reduction of Pain
One of the main benefits of hot stone massage and essential oils is the reduction of pain. Various types of pain can be lessened through the use of this kind of therapy.
Muscular pain is the kind of pain that is common among athletes and people who work their muscles and joints on a regular basis. It is also the kind of pain that can occur through injury and trauma, typically during sports.
Nerve pain is a more intense pain than muscular pain. It occurs when the nerves have been irritated or injured, often due to something like a sporting event, but can also happen in other ways, such as when a person lifts a heavy object.
Hot stone massage combined with essential oils can not only reduce the pain by way of the skin, but the essential oils can also help calm the nerves, which helps with nerve pain. When a person is relaxed, they have a better chance of healing from nerve pain.
Aromatherapy massage is considered safe for almost everyone. However, some precautions come into play for some. If a person has an open sore or a skin disease, aromatherapy massage may not be ideal. If a person has recently had chemotherapy or radiation therapy, this kind of massage may not be appropriate. Pregnant women should check with their doctors before undergoing aromatherapy massage.
Hot stone massage is a natural approach to health that has a wide variety of benefits. Massage therapy is sometimes combined with the use of essential oils through aromatherapy to give additional benefits for healing and relaxation.
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