Hot Stone Massage

The History of Hot Stone Massage

Hot Stone MassageThe history of hot stone massage can be traced to thousands of years ago (Mayrhofer, 2010).

Hot stone massage may have originated from the ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda as far back as 5000 years ago in India (Lipoff) [note: (Ayurveda: "a holistic approach to health orginated in India" (NCCAM, 2005; University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011). More information on the two articles Ayurvedic Medicine: An Introduction and Ayurveda. Smooth stones which were taken from river beds were warmed or cooled for use in healing and massage (Lipoff).

The Japanese also used stones to warm their abdomens to improve digestion about 4,000 years ago(Brixton Therapy Center).

Ancient Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago to improve the function of internal organs (Mayrhofer, 2010).

Native Americans used hot stones during rituals and in sweat lodges (similar to modern-day saunas) hundred years ago and are still using them today. During ceremonies, hot stones were heated using "the four elements - water, fire, air, and earth and then passed around to rub against areas of the body with ailments" (Lipoff). The stones were also used on the lower abdomen to relieve cramps (Hahana Stone Massage).

Hot Stone MassageHawaiians have used hot stones for massage and healing for many years (Lipoff). Heated lava stones are placed directly on the body to increase blood circulation (Lipoff).

Stones were also used for healing in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt by laying them on the body, carrying or wearing stones for health and protection, and using stones for diagnosis and treatment of disease (Mayrhofer, 2010).

The use of heated stones in massage was recently reintroduced with the introduction of LaStone Therapy, created by Mary Nelson, in 1993 when she accidentally used hot stones to massage her niece when they were having a sauna (Mayrhofer, 2010; Hahana Stone Massage).She combined the use of hot stones with her massage therapy and treatment to create her own style of massage technique called (cite)LaStone Therapy(/cite) (Lipoff). Nelson later assembled a team of therapists to teach hot stone massage all around the world (Pat Mayrhofer, 2010). From then hot stone massage gained popularity all over the world (Mayrhofer, 2010). for more information about history of hot stone massage)

What Is Hot Stone Massage?

Hot stone Massage is a type of massage "where a therapist uses smooth and heated stones, either as an extension of their own hands, or by placing them on the body while they massage other parts of the body" (Brown).

Types of Stones and Equipment Needed:

stonesBasalt stones:

The stones that are used in hot stone massage are usually basalt, a type of rock that has been smoothed by natural forces in the river or sea and also is rich in iron so that they absorb and retain heat well (Brown).


The stones are immersed in water and heated in the heater until they are within a certain temperature range (Brown).

Massage OilMassage oil:

The massage Oil is used to help hot stones glide across the skin more smoothly (Brown).


hand towels, foot tub, tongs, and a thermometer (Florida School of Massage, 2012)

Health Benefits

Hot Stone MassageThe heat of the stone can warm and relax the muscles, which allows therapist to apply deeper pressure if necessary (Wong, 2012).

Some massage therapists place stones on points that are considered energy centers of the body to "rebalance the body and mind" (Wong, 2012).

Hot Stone Massage is also helpful for improving health conditions and has an effective impact on relieving back pain, osteroarthritis and arthritis pain, insomnia and depression (Wong, 2012).

Other benefits of Hot Stone Massage include promoting deep relaxation, stress reduction, release of toxins, improved circulation and increased range of motion (Florida School of Massage, 2012).

Lori Hunt is a professional massage therapist in Advanced Massage Clinic in Gainesville, Florida,. With 20 years experience in massage therapy, she specializes in Hot Stone Massage and has practiced it for about 10 years. She loves Hot Stone Massage and is very passionate about this modality.