What to Expect During a Hot Stone Massage

By March 21, 2021Blog, Massage
What to expect during a hot stone massage

A hot stone massage is a form of therapy where your physiotherapist uses heated stones to stimulate the body. The smooth stones are placed on specific areas of the body and left there, but sometimes the therapist holds them in place. The weight of the stone exerts pressure on the muscles, and the heat soothes them. Once the muscles relax, the therapist can exert more pressure without making you uncomfortable. At our physiotherapy clinic in Ajax we offer top of the massage treatment for our clients. Contact now to book your appointment at (905) 239-5001.

Stone massage basics

Most stone massages are done using basalt river rock stones because of their smooth surfaces. Their ability to retain heat for longer also makes them a great choice for this type of massage.

Before the massage, your therapist will heat the stones to between 110°F and 130°F. A specific stone heater is used in this process, and the temperature is monitored to ensure it doesn’t surpass the highest mark. These stones cannot be heated using any other device such as microwaves, slow cookers, or ovens; otherwise, they could cause burns.

During the massage, the therapist will rely on your anatomy to guide them in placing the stones in the right spots. Sometimes they will choose spots that balance energy in your mind and body. They will use Swedish massage techniques such as rolling, stroking, and kneading.

Benefits of stone massages

For most people, a stone massage is relaxing and comforting. The heat from the stones will soothe you, especially if you’re feeling chilly. The heat also relaxes the muscles to enable the therapist to use minimal pressure but still reach deep into the muscles.

There is limited scientific research on the benefits of stone massage. However, a lot of research has been done on the benefits of massage therapy in general. The studies have proven that people with depression, hypertension, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune conditions can benefit from massage.

Since stone massage is a type of massage therapy, it can bring the same benefits. You can benefit from a stone massage if you have anxiety, insomnia, depression, and back pain.

What to expect from a hot stone massage

The therapist will choose which part of your body to place the stones. They may consider your medical history to determine the areas that are likely to have more muscle tension. Common areas where the stones are placed are the palms, each side of the spine, stomach, legs, and feet. Sometimes smaller stones are placed on the forehead or toes.

It will take some time before the heat from the stones penetrates through to your muscles. The sheet or towel used with the stones will help you decide whether the heat is too much or just right after it starts to get through to your body.

The therapist will also apply massage oil before gliding the warm stones using their hands. They will use the Swedish technique to massage your back, legs, neck, shoulders, or any other part you’re feeling tension on after removing the stones. Sometimes they massage you with the stones still on.

Hot stone massage therapy typically lasts between one hour to one and a half hours. Some spas offer this type of massage, with each one having a different variation.

Tips for the best experience

  • Always look for a trained therapist who has specialized in hot stone massage.
  • When filling the intake form before the massage, be as truthful and as detailed as possible. Don’t withhold any information, especially when it is connected to your health.
  • Try not to eat before the massage, and if you must, eat light foods only.
  • Drink a lot of water before and during the massage. You can take other fluids, so long as they keep you hydrated before and after the massage.
  • Speak up if the stones are too hot or if the therapist is using too much pressure. Communicating will allow the therapist to meet your specific needs without causing you any discomfort.

Is hot stone massage painful?

Like other types of massages, this one shouldn’t be painful. The stones used are usually a few inches long and heated to a preset temperature. The heat may be too warm for you, in which case you can inform the therapist. If the stones are too hot, they could burn you.

The heat is necessary for the therapist to reach the deep tissues, but it should not cause you pain. Tell your therapist immediately you feel any pain.

Who can get a hot stone massage?

Hot stone massage therapy is typically safe, but in some cases, there could be a negative outcome. Although rare, side effects can be bone fracture, nerve damage, or blood clotting.

When done by a trained therapist, the massage will be very safe, and the chances of experiencing these side effects will be minimal to none. The massage is also not appropriate for everyone. For instance, children and expecting women should not sign up for a hot stone massage.

The chances of experiencing side-effects also increase if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Consult your doctor if you have conditions like diabetes, heart problems, hypertension, migraines, varicose veins, cancer, epilepsy, reduced sensitivity to pain, autoimmune diseases, metal implants, and tumours. See your doctor if you are taking blood-thinning medication, you’ve had surgery, or you have wounds on some parts of your body. Weak or inflamed skin also needs authorization from a doctor before a hot stone massage.


You should talk to your medical doctor about the massage if it’s your first time. Your therapist should also know that you’ve never had such a massage before. Consulting these professionals before trying out a new technique is also crucial. They will determine whether massage therapy is the best option for you, depending on your situation.

The massage has many benefits, but it is not for everyone. It has the potential to relax your mind and body, but it can also be detrimental to your health if you have other medical conditions. Make sure it is the best therapy option for you before making an appointment. If it’s not, there are other types of massage therapy you can consider.