History and Background of Hot Stone Massage

Introduction

Massage is perhaps the oldest form of hands-on-healing known to humans, easily pre-dating written records. For millennia, people from virtually every culture have used a combination of touch, heat (thermotherapy) and stones as therapeutic tools. It’s pretty safe to say that almost every culture has either used heat and/or stones to have some sort of healing effect on the body – whether it’s using stones directly on the body like we do in a Hot Stone Massage, or indirectly, similar to a structure like Stonehenge affecting the body energetically.

Most therapists who incorporate heated stones into their massage routine agree that the Chinese, Native Americans and Hawaiians have played a major role in how Stone Therapy is applied today (although the Egyptians, Ayurvedic Medicine, Pacific Islanders and many other cultures are also said to have used stones in their healing arts).

Traditional uses of stones

One of the first recorded uses of stones for healing was by the Chinese. Prior to the invention of metal acupuncture needles, ancient Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) practitioners regularly used various shaped and sharpened stones to treat disease. These stones were known as ‘Bian Stones’, and were used to prick, pierce and bleed various points on the body (as well as lancing boils and performing other superficial procedures). The Chinese also used heat, in the form of ‘moxabustion’ (burning ‘mugwort’ – a dried herb – over acupuncture points), to increase the yang/heat in the body and have a healing effect on patients. Moxabustion is still used today by almost all TCM practitioners.

Undoubtedly, both Bian Stones and moxabustion were used together in the same treatment; however there are differing opinions when it comes to the specific use of stones to massage the body. TCM practitioners did ‘scrape’ various muscles and meridians with jade tools (and other hard objects) to treat different diseases. This was/is known as ‘Gua Sha’, and is still practised today.

The Native Americans had many rituals which involved the use of stones. One of the more well-known rituals involved placing heated stones (generally basalt) into a tepee-like structure, otherwise known as a ‘Sweat Lodge’. This practice was used to cleanse and heal the body and mind. Several other cultures, including the Romans, had a similar idea, leading to the development of modern-day Saunas. Another Native American ritual used a heated stone that was wrapped in cloth/bark. This warm stone was placed onto the lower abdomen of a woman who was menstruating, in order to relieve cramps (women today employ this same principle when they use a hot water bottle).

Heated stones were perhaps even more frequently used in traditional Hawaiian healing practices. Customary uses included wrapping heated stones in ‘ti-leaves’, a special type of leaf with therapeutic properties. These wrapped stones were then placed on sore areas of the body in order to reduce pain – similar to using a heat pack or poultice. Hot stones were also placed in shallow pits and covered with these same leaves. The patient would then lie on top of the leaves, allowing the healing properties to infuse into the body. 출장마사지

Volcanic stones are also said to have been rubbed over the body after a traditional Hawaiian Kahuna/Lomi-Lomi massage (in the Hawaiian language, Lomi-Lomi simply means ‘to knead/rub/massage’). Due to the coarseness of the stones used, this was perhaps less of a massage technique and more of an exfoliation. The Hawaiians are one of the most closely linked cultures to modern-day Stone Therapy.

There are also endless references to the use of gems, crystals and other types of stones by many cultures throughout the history of healing.

About modern-day Hot Stone Massage

Modern-day Stone Therapy, a truly unique style of massage, has been gaining popularity throughout the world after being ‘discovered’ in the United States in 1993. The story revolves around a massage therapist named Mary Nelson, who was suffering from repetitive use injuries in the shoulders/wrists. She was having a sauna with her niece who was about to receive a massage, and was ‘called’ to use the stones. Mary chose some of the smoother stones and used them in the massage. It felt great (for the client as well as the therapist) and thus Stone Therapy as we know it today was born. This first style of modern-day Stone Therapy was/is called ‘LaStone Therapy’.

 

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