It is hard to determine where the modern treatment of hot and cold stone therapy actually came from however, by taking a look at how ancient civilisations used stones, we are able to imagine how the act of using hot and cold stones has developed throughout the years.
It is said that stones were used by the Arabs as a contraceptive and that they would place a stone in a camel’s womb to prevent pregnancy so that they could tolerate long distance journeys.
The Japanese would wear hot stones on their stomach in a bid to aid the digestion by warming the abdomen.
The Native American Indians are said to have used hot stones to aid menstrual pain by placing one hot stone at the feet of the client and one hot stone on their abdomen.
Ancient Chinese healers would use hot stones in the treatment of disease and muscular pain by applying hot stones to the body.
The Romans are said to include the use of cold stones after a traditional roman bath, whereby a person will lay on a bed of cold stones to cool off.
Going back five thousand years to the ancient Hindu healing traditions in India, hot stones were used regularly in the treatment of general body discomfort.
In ancient Hawaii, the Kahunas traditionally used hot stones as an antispasmodic and to relieve tension in the body. They would do this by wrapping the hot stones in leaves before applying them to the affected area.
Hot stones were traditionally used in sweat lodges by early Native Americans. This culture also used heated stones on the abdomen for the treatment of stomach cramps and other abdominal pains.
The modern use of hot and cold stones in massage; known as hot and cold stone therapy, first became popular in Arizona. This is where the “LaStone” technique was first introduced by Mary Nelson. Mary D. Nelson is the founder of “LaStone Therapy the Original Hot and Cold Stone Massage” (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mary-nelson-lmt-mlsti-rm/9/894/766). She has been travelling the globe for sixteen years teaching her method.
Hot stones (basalt stones) are water heated and applied quickly to the surface of the body to penetrate heat to the muscles and surrounding fibres; ready for massage. The body is then massaged using hot or cold stones, depending on the desired effect as hot stones help to loosen the muscle fibres and ease tension while cold stones (marble) act as an analgesic over painful areas.
Marble or marine stones are traditionally used as cold stones as they naturally have cold properties and will stay cool for a lengthy period of time. Basalt or desert stones are typically used as hot stones because of their ability to hold heat for a sustained period of time.
Stone therapy is great for a balancing effect and for grounding. This is a therapy which has the ability to provide a deep sense of relaxation and nurture.
As with other massage therapies, stone therapy can be provided using various techniques to manipulate the soft tissues of the body and penetrate deep within a muscle to relieve tension. Massage with or without stones can have a massive effect on the systems of the body including:-
Blood Vascular System
Digestive & Urinary Systems
Any form of massage may act to stimulate the systems of the body and temporarily increase the body’s metabolic rate. Stone therapy is a treatment which penetrates deeply and is far more powerful than manual massage. Stone therapy stimulates the lymphatic system to encourage the release of toxins as a result of improved circulation, which has a knock on effect on the digestive and urinary systems as these toxins are secreted. The blood vascular system is affected as the circulation is improved as a result of the expansion of the blood vessels. This makes massage techniques more effective at eliminating toxins and improving circulation. However, when working with cold stones on an area of pain, the blood vessels in that area are affected by the cold and become constricted. This de-congesting effect works to reduce inflammation. As the stones have their own properties because of the energy within them, their energy can also affect the client on a psychological level as this energy creates a sense of calm and relaxation within the client. This is one of the ways in which stone therapy can help to alleviate stress, anxiety and tension.