A hot stone massage performed by a well-trained and skilled therapist is probably one of the most amazing massages you will ever experience. You will feel totally nurtured as your muscles melt as the warmth cocoons your body. It’s like lying on a warm beach with sun caressing your body and feeling totally relaxed and contented. The heat from the stones allows the therapist to work a lot deeper in the muscles whilst still providing a relaxing experience. Ensuring you get the right hot stone massage therapist can make this experience either a great experience or one of your worst! Again, there is a big difference between a therapist using random stones picked from the local beach and warmed in clunky, crock pot in comparison to a skilled hot stone therapist. There are many styles of hot stone massages. I’ve had some where the stones are enclosed in linen with herbs. (Nice idea, but failed to really heat the body the way I thought they would) and other styles where therapists just use the stones without any special body placements. These techniques are usually used by therapists whom haven’t been professionally trained and some techniques just leave the stones stationary on the body. The best hot stone massage will provide a comfortable, and correctly placed spinal layout for you to lie on whilst the front of your body is getting massaged. The warmth of the spinal layout stones deeply penetrates the back muscles giving a more relaxing and therapeutic experience. This also has the added benefit that the back is already warmed up when the client turns over, therefore allowing a deeper back massage into all those muscles that need the extra work? Additional volcanic, smooth stones are then placed to different parts of our body; these parts of our body are called the energy points (chakras) for these areas also need to feel the warmth and be healed. These pre heated volcanic stones are then placed under the palms, which feel like having your hand held by a loved one, in between toes. The stones are also being pre heated in a controlled temperature to consider the skin condition as well. Sometimes the skilled massage therapist will also use the stone to perform a massage to certain parts of the body, the warmth of these hot stones will go deep into our muscle which can remove body aches and can improve the function of our nervous system as well. A hot stone massage therapy can also improve our body’s blood circulation which will make us feel relaxed and restored at the same time. I’ve had good hot stone massages and terrible ones, so here is a quick list to ensure you get a nicely flowing massage, without the therapist making loud clunking noises to disturb your peace or alternatively placing the stones on the body when they are too hot so you nearly jump out of your skin. So, here is a quick check list when choosing a therapist, alternatively check out the qualified practitioners list for recommended therapists. Check List for a good hot stone massage Professionally trained – Hot stone massages need to be performed accurately and precisely to ensure that the temperature is correct and that the massage flows and their isn’t any discomfort. Make sure your therapist has been professionally trained rather than self-taught or by watching DVD’s. Professional therapists go through rigorous training and have to complete case studies to get customer feedback. Not gaining this feedback from case studies results in therapists not fully understanding this technique to give a safe and comfortable massage. Training Provider – Did they complete their course through a training provider or was it through a DVD or self-training. There is a big difference in the kind of experience you will receive. Seeking a therapist with professional training is a must. Date of completion of their hot stone course – its worthwhile finding out when they completed the course and how often they perform hot stone massages. (This is a polite way of finding out how experiencing they really are) and inexperienced hot stone therapist results in a disjointed, not flowing massage and frequently with a disruptive clunking of the stones throughout the massage. How many case studies/clients have they performed a hot stone massage on? – Again this will have an impact on the quality of the massage. The more hot stone massages they have performed the better. What types of stones are used? A therapist really needs to be using Basalt stones, the reason why that is these smooth stones hold the heat a lot better. If you use any other type of stone they tend to lose the heat more. This means for you, a disconnected massage because the therapist will constantly have to get more stones off the heat. Ask the therapist to describe what is entailed in the hot stone massage. An experienced therapist should be able to give a confident description of this beautiful technique. If they don’t sound confident talking about it, it’s more than likely the therapist won’t feel confident performing this style of massage. What type of heater is used? A professional heater allows the therapist to quickly respond to your needs, if you want the stones hotter or cooler. Using a crockpot (which are often noisy as well) or frying pan is not having the right equipment to give a professional job. These heaters are difficult to increase the temperature of the stones during the massage, or decrease the heat. Professional heaters designed for hot stone therapy are the best heaters to use. I hope this helps, and I have to say that the hot stone massage is one of my favorite massages to receive. It leaves you feeling on cloud nine for days and even though it can feel quite gentle, it’s amazing how deep that heat really works to release tension in the muscles. Some of my favorite practitioners are listed on my web-site if you would like my personal recommendations. Lynda Johnson Director & Trainer Sacred Stone Massage