Hot stone massage is one of the most popular methods of massage therapy for several reasons. Your clients will benefit from the deeply relaxing experience induced by the heat from the massage stones. This warmth radiates into the muscles of your massage client, relaxing their muscles and allowing the therapist to work deeper into the muscles. You, as a massage therapist, will greatly benefit by not only seeing an increase in profitability, as you can charge more per massage, but you will not have to use as much strength and energy (and thereby less wear on your body) to achieve the same results on your client. <br /><br />Cold stone therapy is also becoming very popular. It is common to use stones that have been chilled in the same massage routine as hot stones. When cold stones are use on the body the act as a powerful decongestant. Basalt stone can be used for cold stone therapy but most people are finding that marble provides an even better material for this type of therapy due to its ability to be colder (or draw heat from the body) better than other stones. Please read through all of our frequently asked questions pages that are listed below to find out more about hot and cold massage stone therapy.

How do hot stones work?
The most common and effective type of stone to use for hot stone massage is basalt stone, often called mexican beach pebble. Due to its mineral composition, mainly silica with traces of iron, it retains heat very well. Use of these hot stones warms the muscles and allows practitioners to access deeper tissues more quickly than with conventional massage while saving their fingers from repetition and pressure oriented injuries. Hot stone massage combines the benefits of hydrotherapy and thermotherapy, the use of heat applications, with the strokes of massage using stones to create a deep, relaxing and healing treatment. The heat of the stones warms the skin, which allows for the absorption of moisturizing and therapeutic oils, while simultaneously preparing the musculature of the body so the therapist can work into the deeper muscle layers. Benefits of thermotherapy include: increased local circulation, improved blood flow to surrounding tissues, and greater ability to transport toxins and waste products from the area. An ancillary benefit is that the stones provide a wonderful tool that creates a sense of depth in the massage without the extra wear and tear on the therapist's hands.

What color are your massage stones?
A marketing myth perpetrated by numerous companies is that all hot stones should be perfectly round and only the deepest, darkest black. While the stones that we sell for our sets are generally as black as any basalt stone can be, it is not true that the color of a massage stone determines whether or not it will hold heat well and therefore whether it will "work" for hot stone massage. What determines how well a stone will retain heat, and therefore be useful for hot stone massage, is what its mineral composition is. What determines whether a stone is basalt or not is how it was form and the percent composition of Silica and Iron, as well as a few other trace elements. Basalt stone often time come in numerous colors depending on what those other trace elements are; yet their ability to hold and emanate both heat and cold doesn't change. We have determined through laboratory testing that the sources that we use for our massage stone are indeed basalt stone. Though the may vary in color all of the stone that we sell will hold heat as the should and be effective stones for any hot stone massage.

What shapes do I need?
Some companies claim that all stones used for hot stone massage should be perfectly round with absolutely no blemishes. As the body is not a perfectly round shape, and possesses numerous contours and angles, the stones should reflect this in their size and shapes as well. A good working tool will have angles and oblong curves to allow the therapist to access hard to reach muscles. While it is nearly impossible to find large quantities of stone in nature that don't have any blemishes and are "perfect" in shape, it really isn't necessary, as your client will not feel any small blemishes. We are very careful in our selection process, being extremely cautious not to select any stones that have blemishes that would be felt by your client. The sizes and shapes that you will need for a massage will depend on the type of massage that you are doing as well as the area of the body that you are working on. Generally the larger stones are used for the larger parts of the body. For example, you would use smaller stones for massaging the face than you would the back or thighs. If you would like to learn more about specific stone use based on the area of the body that you are massaging, please purchase our hot stone user's manual that is available with every stone set that we sell. Our hot stone manual also has general information on why hot stone massage is used as well as specific tips on how to give an effective massage using basalt stones.

Where do your stones come from &amp; how are they prepared?
We only use basalt stone for our massage stone sets. We have sources along the beaches in Central and South America that we harvest them from. They have been power-cleaned, sorted and then evaluated for their surface quality before matching, packaging and labeling them based on size and function. The stones are not treated with oil prior to shipping. Oil, when left on the stones and then sealed in a plastic bag, provides ample opportunity for bacterial growth and rancidity to develop during transport. This can put both the practitioner as well as their clients at risk. Also, different therapists like to use different oils in their treatment, and we leave it to you to decide what product to use when initially coating the stones. You will notice that once you apply any oil or get the stones wet they will take on a darker color. After the first application of oil the stones will partially absorb the oil through the microscopic pores that occur naturally in basalt stone. As the stone absorb the oil they may return to their natural color, which is typically lighter a less vibrant than when they are coated in oil. Once oiled, or 'seasoned' they will typically take on the darker more lustrous appearance that you see in pictures.

What types of stones are best for Cold Stone Therapy?
The important thermal quality that is best to look for in any type of massage stone, be it for hot or cold stone therapy, is its ability to resist thermal change. This is to say that if you are using a stone for cold stone therapy, it should have the ability to retain the cold for a long enough period of time to prove useful in a massage setting. Various stone can be used for cold stone therapy work. Sedimentary and basalt stone works well but marble stones are proving to have the best characteristics. They retain cold very well but they are also the most expensive to purchase. Basalt stones are typically rounded and smoothed by the motions of the water that they are found in. The ocean or rivers tumble them enough to be able to use in their natural state, without any need for additional polishing or shaping work. This is not the case with marble stone. It must be shaped and polished so that it has a texture that is smooth enough to use against bare skin. Marble stone sets are typically more expensive than a basalt stone set because of the extra labor that is involved in getting marble stones ready for massage use. Because of smooth texture that basalt stones have naturally or the marble stones after they are polished, many of these stones can be used without a traditional lubricant, depending on their mineral state when frozen or iced.

Why should I consider use of cold stones?
The use of cold, or cryotherapy, alone on the body is a powerful decongestant, pushing blood, fluid and wastes out of overworked, chronically tense, or inflamed tissues such as the orbits, where it can help reduce dark circles through placement on the eye area. In this circumstance, it is recommended that a moist pad be place over the eye itself to provide an extra layer of protection, and the cold stones then be placed upon it. The conduction of the cold via the water across the pad will help to assure a thorough and even distribution of the application. Cold stones can also be used on the sinus area, or as a pressure placement on post-extraction procedures, where it will help increase microcirculation, metabolism, and elimination thus affecting change on a cellular level, while interrupting the pain-spasm-pain cycle. In cooperation with heated stones, chilled stones create a dramatic movement of fluids within the body, generating a healing, cleansing, and nourishing effect due to the alternate constriction and dilation of the blood vessels. Cold also generates a toning, or strengthening response to several body systems, most notably the immune system. Please keep in mind that alternating cold and hot stone application is not a treatment for everyone. If a client is prone to being cold day to day, or has mild circulatory problems, it is recommended that the client experience a hot stone massage only.

What are the benefits of using cold stones?
Using cold stone for massage purposes will benefit in dispersal of tissue congestion, alleviation of swelling, decreased muscle spasms, stimulation of the autonomic nervous system, increased tissue metabolism, and invigoration effect. After a trauma or injury, the tissue and blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to that area are damaged. The cells around the injury increase their metabolism in an effort to consume more oxygen and repair themselves. If and when the oxygen is used up, the cells are at risk of dying. Also, the damaged or constricted blood vessels cannot remove waste. Blood cells and fluid, in an attempt to protect those tissues, seep into the interstitial spaces in the surrounding area, which results in swelling and bruising. When ice, or an object of colder temperature is applied, it lowers the temperature of the damaged tissue through heat exchange and constricts local blood vessels. This slows metabolism and the consumption of oxygen, therefore reducing the rate of cell damage and decreasing fluid build-up or swelling.

What are some specific area that I could use cold stones?
Cryotherapy, or the application of cold in such therapy methods as massage, can be an effective medical treatment. It must be kept in mind, however, that in massage cold can desensitize the skin. While stones do not desensitize the skin as quickly as ice does, it still can cause a massage client to loose enough feeling to that area that they wouldn't notice that soft tissue manipulations were taken beyond their tolerance level. With this in mind, always give careful attention to the client's comfort level as well as the appearance of the skin. As with heat, cold can cause burns and structural damage that may go unnoticed due to the anesthetic effect that cold as on a person's skin. Whether using hot or cold stone therapy, as work within a client's comfort level. Orbital decongestion: removal of puffiness or discoloration, Sinus decongestion: alleviation of sinus pain, Post treatment applications i.e. waxing, dermabrasion, electrolysis, etc

Using both heat and cold in your treatments?
Cold stones alternated with hot stones can provide a therapeutic balance, but is not a treatment for everyone. Alternating between heat and cold will cause the blood vessels to alternate between dilation and constriction. The end result of this will be a dramatic increase in circulation to that area. If a client is prone to being cold day to day, or has mild circulatory problems, it is recommended that the client experience a hot stone massage only.
The combination of hot and cold stones provides therapeutic balance. "Too much heat is depleting, can produce laxity in tissues, and increase inflammation. Americans are just beginning to understand what Europeans have understood for centuries: the effects of 'just enough' cold are energizing, toning and pain reducing," according to Dew. Warm stones soften fascia faster and more deeply than traditional massage therapies while cold stones disperse congestion, alleviate swelling and interrupt muscle spasms. Heated stones increase blood circulation, lymph and digestive fluids and have sedating effects. Cold stones stimulate the autonomic nervous system, increase metabolism and invigorate.