Prior to the 20th century, natural medicines and therapies were the only real medicines available. Within the last 100 years, science-based medicine has become the accepted model. Ancient practices were disregarded and were not part of standard medical care, also known as conventional or Western medicine.
However, in the 1960s and ’70s, a new culture that embraced alternative or non-Western medicine began to emerge in the United States. Complementary Therapy, a term developed in the U.S., described the relationship between non-mainstream (Eastern) practices and conventional (Western) medical care. Since that time, Complementary and Alternative Medicine has continued to gain popularity in the U.S. and has become more widely accepted in the medical community for the health and general wellness benefits offered.
A recent National Health Interview Survey, an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans answer questions about their health, revealed that approximately one-third of U.S. adults use complementary health approaches. Furthermore, about 59 million Americans spend money out of pocket on complementary health approaches – to the tune of $30.2 billion a year. These figures reveal Americans value the health benefits of ancient therapies.
One of the ancient therapies on the rise is the use of smooth stones. The uses of stones and gemstones for healing purposes are diverse, dating back thousands of years. Many cultures are credited with the tradition of using hot stones for physical and spiritual purposes. These traditions include laying stones in patterns on the body, carrying or wearing stones for health and protection, using stones to diagnose and treat disease and for ceremonial uses such as in sweat lodges and medicine wheels.
The Emergence of Hot Stone Massage
Modern stone massage was born in the U.S. The use of heated stones in massage was reborn in 1993 via LaStone Therapy, created by Mary Nelson. Since that time, stone massage has blossomed into an accepted therapy, especially when combined with massage.
Through the years, the full-body hot stone massage has evolved to include deep tissue work, facials, pedicures, manicures and meridian therapy.
How Hot Stone Massage Works
The principle behind hot stone massage therapy is that the direct heat of the stones relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist access to the deeper muscle layers. The hot stones expand blood vessels, which encourages blood flow throughout the body. The stones also have a sedative effect that can relieve chronic pain, reduce stress and promote deep relaxation.
The stones used in hot stone massage are usually basalt stones, which are smooth, natural stones polished over time by lying in rivers and streams. The stones are heated up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
After applying massage oil or lotion on the skin and, in most cases, a thin barrier between the stones in the massage area, the therapist gently glides the stones over the areas using specific motion to enhance the therapeutic benefits.
Stone massage, when done correctly, is one of the most relaxing forms of massage a person can receive.
Massage therapists who are certified in stone therapy can significantly enhance the benefits of a full body massage and help create lasting results, including relief from pain associated with fibromyalgia, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other chronic conditions; decreased muscle pain, tension and spasms; and less chronic stress and tension.
Massage Envy’s specially trained therapists adhere to strict protocols to ensure a pain-free, heart-, body- and muscle-warming experience with lasting health benefits.
While a hot stone massage is generally considered safe for most people when performed by a trained therapist or practitioner, it is not right for everyone. It is recommended to check with your doctor prior to having a hot stone therapy session if you have any heart, vascular or autoimmune condition or are undergoing treatment for cancer or other chronic illness. FBN
By Mark Love
Mark Love is the Franchisee of Massage Envy Spa Flagstaff, located at 1235 S. Plaza Way in the University Plaza Shopping Center next to Safeway. For more information on the benefits of massage and to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist, visit MassageEnvy.com or call 928-526-ENVY (3689) and follow on Facebook at Facebook.com/MEFlag.
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