Manual Therapy for the Body and the Mind

Hot Stones in Therapeutic Deep Massage

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Hot Stones | Turtle Dance BodyworkOne of the things I love about this field is the unending potential to learn and grow. From simple things, like learning to use a tool I have been using in a new way, to more complex concepts, and in some cases a complete revamp of the understanding of the functioning of the body, there is always more to absorb, something new that brings it all to life.

When hot stones were introduced into the western scope of bodywork, they were looked at as a tool for activating energy flow through the body. My training, based on LaStone, the oldest technique in this country, was a protocol, which included a combination of applying the stones to energy centers, and gently massaging with them, using the heat as a means to relax the nervous system and relieve muscle tension. This has been an effective approach for achieving deep relaxation, leaving the client feeling refreshed and balanced.

Recently however, I have discovered that there is another world of options for the use of hot stones. The notion of using heat as a way to calm the nervous system, and cause muscle tension to dissipate, can be applied to deeper, more therapeutic approaches as well.

When someone has low back pain associated with leg and hip tension, for example, stones can be incorporated along with the hands, in myofascial stretching and deep compression techniques to work the tissue, achieving a quicker release, less work for the therapist and faster relief for the client. Used as a preparation for really stuck tissue, the static application of hot stones allows for access to areas that might otherwise be too sensitive or resistant to be worked effectively. Once these areas have been softened, the muscle/ fascial tissue and associated joint(s) can be freed from restriction, allowing easier movement, increased strength and reduced or eliminated pain for the client.

This new way of using stones has opened up different avenues in my therapeutic work. Where before I would be inclined to use an elbow to really get deep into someone’s back, I might consider the softer edge of a large stone. Or tracing the edge of a muscle that is resistant to move, applying heat along with pressure for a more complete release. So many options present themselves that I can’t wait to incorporate them all!

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