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Hot Stone Therapy

Hot stone therapy uses heated iron-rich stones to warm and loosen the muscles during a massage.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: September 28, 2012

Applying direct heat can help relax muscles so besides producing a state of deep relaxation, hot stone therapy can relieve back pain and muscle aches. The direct application of gentle heat to muscles can also improve circulation.

Benefits Of Hot Stone Therapy

The advantage of hot stones is that they allow muscles to relax without strong pressure. The heat also promotes better circulation and mental relaxation.

What To Expect

Hot stone therapy is similar to Swedish massage. Oil is always used, allowing stones to glide more easily over skin. Many of the same sliding strokes (called “effleurage”) are used as well.

Because the hot stones are placed directly on the body, clients lie on the massage table nude, or in underwear, beneath a towel or sheet. The smooth stones, heated by being submerged in 120 to 150 degree water, are placed on strategic points along the back, spine, and sometimes the belly, arms, and legs.

Some massage therapists also nudge the stones between fingers and toes. When a stone begins to cool down, a hotter stone is substituted.

Specialized equipment: The key element to hot stone therapy is, naturally, hot stones. Basalt river stones are the stone of choice—they are smooth and comfortable on the skin, and high in iron, which holds heat well.

The stones are heated in water to a temperature of aproximately 125 degrees. Stones should be cleaned and sanitized between uses.

Recommended sessions: There are no set number of sessions recommended for hot stone therapy, though the stones can be added to many different other modalities as necessary.

Preparation: Let the massage therapist know if there are any particularly painful muscles in your body so they can be appropriately treated with hot stones. In addition, make sure to let the massage therapist know if stones are too hot or too cold.


Overly heated stones can potentially burn the skin. Stones that have not been sanitized between uses can spread skin infection.

Who wouldn't benefit: Women going through menopause may not enjoy the heated sensation of stones on their body.

Find licensed and certified experts who offer Hot Stone Therapy near you