Hot Stone Therapy: La Stone Massage
LaStone or hot stone massage therapy, has been rapidly gaining popularity over the last ten years. Most spas have members of staff trained in the technique, and if you haven't been brave enough to check it out yet, it is definitely worth a try. Hot stone massage therapy combines the benefits of hydrotherapy (water therapy) and thermotherapy (heat therapy) with massage techniques, to create a deeply relaxing and healing treatment. Basalt is usually the stone of choice because it absorbs and retains heat better than other stone. The flat, river stones are warmed in water, in a special heater, to between 125 and 135 degrees. Some of the stones are then place on strategic places on your body, such as your spine, thighs, and between your toes, while others are used for deep tissue massage. The benefits of LaStone massage include: improved circulation, improved blood flow to tissues, improved elimination of toxins and waste products.
How LaStone BeganThe technique's creator, Mary Hannigan, says that the idea for LaStone first came to her in 1993, when a voice said to her: "Use the stones." At the time, she was sitting in a sauna with her niece. The voice had such a profound affect upon Hannagan that she found herself picking up a couple of stones and massaging her niece's back with them.
Hannigan says that the stones have become her link to Mother Earth, and that contact with the stones through a hot stone massage, connects us with nature, and can remind us, on one level, of what it was like as a child to relax and play. She also claims that for some, hot stone therapy can work on much deeper levels, taking us deep within ourselves, with the potential for healing emotional distress and anger.
The hot stone massage?So what can you expect if you book a hot stone session at your spa? First of all, make sure you have enough time. Your session will probably last between forty minutes and an hour and you certainly won't feel like driving straight after- you'll be much too relaxed.
At first, large, flat stones will be placed in 3-4 rows of 2 upon the massage table. This allows for your spine to be cantered between them. A towel is paced over the stones before you are laid on them, so that you are comfortable and protected from the heat. At no time should stationary hot stones be placed in direct contact with your skin, other than your hands and feet, and these stones should have been allowed to cool sufficiently before hand.
Once you have been positioned over the layout stones, more large stones will be placed on your chest, under each shoulder, on each thigh and your belly. You may also have stones placed in or beneath your palms, depending on which you find most comfortable, and between your toes. You may also have cooled, marble stones placed on your face.
Your therapist will now begin the massage using warm stones in a series of different strokes and deep movements over your shoulders, arms, legs, hands and feet. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, or the stones are too hot, tell your massage therapist immediately. Qualified therapists monitor the temperature of the stones very carefully, which should result in a very pleasurable experience that is sure to take you back for more.