Massage is one of the oldest forms of hands-on-healing known, people from virtually every culture have used a combination of touch, heat or thermotherapy and stones as therapeutic tools. The three main cultures, which have heavily influenced how modern-day hot stone massage has evolved, the Chinese, the Native Americans and the Hawaiians although Egyptian, Ayurvedic and many other traditional healing arts are also said to have used stones and heat.
One of the first recorded uses of stones for healing was by Ancient Chinese a medical practitioner who regularly used various shaped stones known as Bian Stones to treat disease. The use of Moxabustion burning of the herb mugwort helped to add heat to these treatments. Native Americans are well known for their Sweat Lodges, which are similar to modern-day Saunas. The use of heated stones on the lower abdomen to relieve cramps was another common Native American practice.
Most therapists who incorporate hot stones into their massage routine agree that the Hawaiians had a major part to play in how this form of massage is applied today. This is particularly true for Hahana Stone Massage. Customary uses included wrapping hot stones in leaves with certain therapeutic properties ti leaves and placing on sore muscles to reduce pain, like using a heat pack. .
Modern-day hot stone massage therapy is a truly unique style of massage, has been gaining popularity through-out the world after being re-discovered in the United States in 1993.
The story is that a massage therapist named Mary Nelson, who was suffering from repetitive use injuries in the shoulders and wrists, was having a sauna with her niece and which had stones in. Mary picked up some of the hot stones and started massaging her niece with them, she felt great. The first style of modern-day hot stone massages therapy was called ‘LaStone Therapy’. Almost every Spa in Europe, America and Australia offers hot stone massage therapy on their treatment plans. There are a verity number of different styles of stone massage, hot stone massage and cold stone massage these can be incorporated into different treatments like body massage as a pre heat treatment to warm up the muscle to aid muscle manipulation, manicures placed in between the fingers, pedicures placed in between the toes, facials during the massage to aid lymph drainage over the face, sports or remedial massage to relieve muscle pain or tension in the muscle and Indian head massage to aid in relaxation.
2. Explain how you would prepare the treatment area for stone therapy massage taking into account the following aspects: heating, lighting, privacy, noise level, hygiene and finishing touches.
When you enter the treatment room you should check the floor is clean and there is no oil spillages on the floor, if there is wipe up with warm soapy water and dry with paper towels, you should place clean bed sheet on the treatment bed, cover with clean towels and bed roll with modesty towels and a flannel available for wiping over the client feet at the beginning and end of the massage. The sides should be wiped down with surgical spirit, sink should be clean with hand soap available. You need to place an hand towel down or tissue to place the stone heater on, the machine should be clean and pat tested, a quick check of the wires and that the machine is in working order shouldn’t take more then a minute, all stones in the machine should be clean and oil free, you should have a bowl to fill the heater with water, the water should be level with the stones. You should turn the machine to pre heat for them to be at working temperature 55C for the treatment. You should place a towel next to the machine for when you take the stones out of the heater, a bowl of cool water should be next to the towel ready incase the stone need cooling down before applying heat to the client, you should check the thermometer in the machine to see the temperature of the water, if the water is at working temperature change the machine to operating range to keep the stone at the correct heat. You would have a small bowl with tissue and a cotton bud in to patch test the oil the client has chosen. Tissue should be placed on the floor by the bed for when the client gets off the bed to stop then from slipping from any oil still on their feet.
Heating: making sure the room isn’t to hot or cold for the client as to much heat can make client feel faint or even collapse, if the room in to cold the client may not receive the most of the benefits from the treatment and they may not fell comfortable.
Lighting: there should be mood lighting or a dimmer switch to aid in relaxation during the treatment, as a bright light may cause the client to tense up and not relax which can ruin the experience for them.
Privacy: the treatment should take place in a private treatment room so other client or therapist doesn’t disturb the client during the treatment so the client can relax and receive all the benefits of the massage. Some client can feel self-conscious about their body and a private room can make them feel comfortable and not exposed.
Noise Level: there sound be no loud noises in or near the treatment room, relaxing music should be playing in the back ground to aid in relaxation but not to loud that it disturbs the client or any other client receiving treatments.
Hygiene: all treatment room should be cleaned before and after client enter, the bed cover should be replaced with clean one, dirty towels should be placed into the wash with clean ones to replaced them, fresh bed roll placed on the floor and bed, sinks should be wiped down after every treatment, any oil spillages should be cleaned up with warm soapy water, bins emptied with fresh bin liners in, fresh clean dressing gowns in the room for client use, all side be wiped down with surgical spirit, all stone washed and dried after every treatment and stone heater cleaned after every treatment, therapists should wash hands before and after treatment, therapists should have excellent personal hygiene, sort nails free of nail polish, hair tided up, plain day make up, clean fresh uniform.
Finishing Touches: to make yourself stand out you could place battery candles around the room, bath rose soap petals on the bed that the can take home after the treatment, have an oil burner in the corner to have a relaxing and welcoming smell in the room, offer rose quartz water after treatment or herbal teas to complement the treatment. This will set you apart from other therapist as it is these things that clients remember about the treatment and what will bring them back in future and they will recommend you to friends and family
3. Describe how you would adapt a massage routine to suit the individual client’s physical characteristics to include each of the following: weight, muscle tone, age, health and skin condition.
Every stone therapy massage is different as you would adapt the massage to suit the clients needs as everyone is an individual and have different problem areas needing more concentrating on or just having the massage to aid in relaxation, what ever the reason you would always be changing and adapting the massage in order to achieve the client outcome of the massage. There are many factors that could change the routine of the massage:
Weight: weight of the client is a factor as this will determine the size of the stones, amount of oil needed and the area the therapist will be working on, you may find that people with endomorph body types maybe sensitive to heat and pressure but have good muscle tone as with someone with ectomorph body type maybe able to stand a lot of heat and deeper pressure.
Muscle Tone: clients with good muscle tone will feel the heat off the stones in the muscle in which this will help eliminate any tension in the muscle fibres, younger clients tend to have better muscle tone than older clients as with age the elasticity in the skin and muscle tend to weaken in which when lying down you may not see a lot of muscle areas but more boney areas in which you have to be careful not to cause the client any discomfort as the massage is meant to be both relaxing and enjoyable.
Age: age is a big factor in determining the pressure of the massage and the heat of the stones, younger client will have more elasticity and collagen in the skin which helps with the stone to stretch the skin and a smoother gliding motion over the surface, they will be able to stand more heat on the skin and tend not to bruise from the pressure of the stones on the muscles, older clients have less elasticity and collagen in which during the massage the skin takes longer to go back during the massage in which the skin may bundle up and cause the client discomfort, the client may bruise a lot more easily and more quickly due to age and clients may be more sensitive to the heat from the rocks.
Health: if the client is in good health they will and has a good diet stone therapy
4. Describe in detail stone therapy massage techniques and how these may be adapted to suit your clients considering general body types, muscle tone and skin conditions.
Taking into consideration the clients body type, you may find they don’t have much muscle on their back if they have an ectomorph body, if they are mesomorph they will have defined muscles or if they are endomorph they may have a bigger frame but not a lot of muscle, client can fall into more than one of these categories, when starting the massage with effleurage you can manual and visually assess the client body type to get a good a idea of how much pressure you should apply during the massage although some clients with a small build may like a firm massage while others with a bigger build may not be able to handle the pressure.
Effleurage is used for spreading the oil over the client’s body and warming the muscle and tissues, this technique is used to begin the end the massage. Begin with your hand and stroke with superficial effleurage along the area to be massaged first, this is a good movement to manual check the muscle tone and skin condition of the client, while still doing effleurage pick up the stones and introduce the texture of the stone to the skin. Take care over bony areas and that you can do more transverse effleurage, down the body, working along the length of the muscle fibres.
A gliding stroke is often performed with the outer edge of the stone, which reduces the amount of pressure applied, and it is really useful for finishing the movement at a lymph node to aid drainage.
This is a deep, intense stroke using the stone on its edge, working the muscle along its entire length from its origin to its insertion. This helps pull the muscle fibres outward and removes tension, and is best performed when the stone has lost some of its heat, so use this after the first round of effleurage to create a deep release and stretch of soft tissue.
Pressing and releasing of the tissue that you would achieve with the hands can be achieved with the stones either flat or for deep concentrated work using the edges. Though you do not have as much contact with the body as you do with manual massage and cannot judge the extra depth, which the stones give. These kneading movements can be very deep always be aware they can cause bruising, clients may think that pain is part of the treatment and that they must put up with it, there is a certain painful but relaxing feeling in having tension knots removed, it should not be continuously sore. The client should not feel tender afterwards, if they do this is a sign you are going too deeply into the tissue.
Frictions can be simulated with stones by using the edge of the stone, to give mild pressure for a soothing feeling or more concentrated pressure to stimulate the nerve endings. This will entirely depend upon the client, whether they just need tension released or deep tissue manipulation. Alternatively you may miss this movement out altogether if the client wants to fall asleep. Piezoelectric effects or vibrations can be achieved with the stones very successfully. Vibrations can also be achieved by rhythmical tapping of two stones together creating sound – one stays in contact with skin while the other taps it at the top. This causes a transfer of energy to electrical vibration that should gently remind the client of the noise. This method is effective at removing tension knots.
The stones are placed on or underneath the body, covered by a towel or sheet to prevent burning. Never place stones directly onto the vertebrae or placements before the massage, placement should be after the massage continuing the good relaxing work of the stones and keeps heat in the muscles.
The heated stones can be held in the hands to keep the client warm during treatment or for any specific problems in any region. It is good to keep checking with the client that the stone isn’t to hot for them or burning their hands and keep referring back to the client to check that they are comfortable.
5. Research and explain two pre-blend aromatherapy oils used in stone therapy massage and the effects each blend will have on your stone therapy massage.
Stimulating: is recommended for people who feel sluggish, tired and emotionally drained. The benefits and use of this pre-blend is used for strengthening the immune system, uplifting, relieves bloating and indigestion, helps with high blood pressure and asthma, ect.
Lemon, Cedarwood, Juniper, Prunus, Citrus Peal, Peppermint and Juranium.
Anti Stress: is recommended for people who feel stressed, used for stimulating the lymphatic system, helps reduces headaches, helps reduces cellulite, relieves aches and pains, helps reduce insomnia, respiratory problems, helps reduce panic attacks and anxiety, helps improve self esteem
Sweet Orange, Sweet Almond, Lavender, Mandarin, Avocado, Weedjurm, Grapefruit, Petitgrain, Ylang Ylang and Margarin.
The effects that the pre-blended oils have on the body when using with stone therapy massage, they will affect the body much quick and spreads though out the body much faster due to the heat stimulating the muscle fibres and blood circulation, the heat enhances the overall effect of the massage faster then manual massage as one movement with the stone massage is equal to ten movements with manual massage. Other benefits of pre-blended oils are: Dramatic improvement in general health and well being, increase in vitality, improvement in the colour and texture of the skin, positive effect on mood and thought, relieves stress, stimulates or soothes the nervous system, eliminates toxic waste from the skin and muscle system, stimulates blood and lymph supply, relieves muscular tension and warms the muscles.
6. Create a client information/after-care advice sheet, to explain the post-treatment restrictions, after-care advice and use of homecare products for stone therapy treatments.
There are many physical and emotional benefits to regular stone massage. Stone massage will soothe away stress and tension, leaving you feeling peaceful, relaxed, revitalized and energized and it is becoming a very popular treatment, perfect for promoting a calm mind, balanced emotions, a stress-free body and for maintaining optimum holistic health. Stone massage feels wonderful and healing, it is relaxing and has a positive effect on the mind, emotions, nervous system, circulation and muscles. After your massage you will usually feel relaxed and be enjoying the benefits of the treatment, however to gain maximum benefit it’s a good idea to follow a few simple guidelines for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours after you receive your massage. Try to relax and avoid strenuous activity for the rest of the day Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks and those containing caffeine Eat light meals and avoid heavy or spicy foods
Avoid heat treatments (hot baths, saunas etc)
Avoid smoking or cut down as much as possible
Following your massage you may experience some of the following symptoms for up to 48 hours Aches, pains or mild flu like symptoms
Stuffy, runny or blocked nose
Tiredness or fatigue
Increased visits to the toilet
Slight worsening of symptoms
Irritable or weepy
These symptoms are quite normal and are simply a sign that your body is going through a healing process so try to embrace them as something positive and know they won’t last long.