The world of massage is a melting pot of philosophies. The beauty of this dynamic is it permits for a personalized approach to our profession. This lesson accounts for professional uniqueness by integrating your existing methods with the stone massage experience.
The Stone Massage Experience
Hot stones sliding against our skin can feel fantastic. They can send us to a fantasy land of beautiful pleasure, a peaceful place that melts away our stress and allows us to rest. An amazing hot stone massage is more than moving oiled rocks over someone’s back. It is an extension of our fingers, flow and technique. It requires precision, practice and exploration to help our clients feel like they’re on vacation.
The hot stone experience is designed to subtly alter the client’s perception of our pressure and to give them the treat of soothing heat. It is an extension, not a replacement of your massage. Though it may require some adjustment it is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel, use the tried and true methods of your regular massage with each stroke.
The stones add a level of inconvenience and complexity to the massage that will disrupt your flow. This disruption is caused by the awkward pauses and non-massage movements interrupting your regular routine. This leads to reduced contact with the client and may make your massage feel sloppy and awkward. The way we avoid this is with practice and exploration, so find a friend and massage them to hone your skills. A mediocre massage can feel magnificent with fantastic flow. a
Flow is a cocktail of client anticipation, a therapist’s smooth strokes and predictable patterns. Slow methodical movements feel marvelous and when combined with hot stones they become heavenly. Ultimately the secret is in our speed, when combined with precision we can guide our client to sleep.
Effective Stone Work
Effective stone work requires a healthy relationship between your hands and the tools. Safety must be your primary concern while performing any kind of massage, especially hot stone. The stones you use and why you use them are governed by your approach to massage and the size of your hands. If a stone is uncomfortable, don’t use it. We only have one body, don’t damage it to conform to someone else’s body mechanics. We are all different, one size does not fit all. Our pain and discomfort is a warning system used by our central nervous system to protect us from injury, use it to protect yourself and live the highest quality of life you can.
Know your tools
Maximize the results of your massage by investigating the tools at your disposal. Spend some time with your equipment before the massage to ensure you have everything you need to get the job done right. Organize your work space to optimize the flow of your routine and to ensure your work space is safe.
- What shapes and size stones are available?
- Which will fit in your hand comfortably?
- How many will you need to get the job done?
- How will you organize the warmer to find the stone you need when you need it?
- Is there safety equipment available to collect the stone from the water without burning your hand?
- Is there a bowl to fill with water to cool an excessively hot stone if needed?
The use of good body mechanics is essential to a long, healthy massage career, your hand is a part of your body, keep it safe. Start by picking a stone and cradling it in your hand. Is your hand comfortable? If it doesn’t feel right put the stone away and avoid using it. You must feel comfortable holding and using every single stone! Go through all the stones and find the right ones for you. This is how you build a collection catered to your body that will help you perform the perfect massage.
Avoid squeezing the stone. Gripping it tightly will put strain on your forearm muscles. Hold it loose enough to avoid strain but firmly enough to establish control. If any area of your body hurts while using the stone find a better way to hold it or search for a more appropriate size and shaped stone for your hand.
Performing the Massage
The Stone Massage experience may be performed with stones that are hot, cold or at room temperature. As mentioned before, safety should be your primary concern, don’t burn or injure your client. Avoid using stones hotter than 104*F or those that burn your hand. When applying the stones maintain communication with your client, let them know they are in control.
Sometimes the stones will be excessively hot when removed from the warmer. For this reason have a water bowl nearby to dip the stone in to absorb some of the heat. Have a towel nearby in case water drips off the stones so you may quickly wipe it off the client.
You may need to be more liberal with your lubricant, this is because the stones do not secrete oil like your skin does.
Special Considerations during the Massage
- Do not place and leave the hot stones directly on a client’s skin. This can lead to serious injury; these stones are very hot and could burn someone.
- Do not apply firm pressure against bonye landmarks. Massage therapists often mistake boney landmarks for a knot, acquaint yourself with these locations to avoid unnecessary discomfort.
- Use less pressure than you normally would. A stone is harder than your finger, arm and elbow, remember this when applying your strength and body weight.
- When we are using the stone there is a disconnect between our body and the client’s. Use your other hand to guide the stone and gauge the level of pressure.
- Empathize with your client, imagine how this experience feels like to them. How would this kind of pressure and heat feel like to you?
- Get to know each stone and assign it a purpose. The way another therapist uses it isn’t how you have to. You are an amazing massage therapist, use your magnificent mind to masterfully craft an incredible stone massage experience.
- Remain aware, test the hot stones to ensure they won’t hurt anyone.
- How the stone feels to you isn’t the same as it will feel to the client. It is important to develop tactics to test the sensations of each technique in addition to how hot the stone may be. Your hands are not an effective thermometer because they adapt to the heat of the stone. They will start feeling colder than they are, so apply the stone to your inner forearm to discern its heat.
- When using the stones keep them moving. If a stone is hot it will feel less intense if you continuously slide it over their flesh.
- Be empathetic, observant and communicate with your client. The awareness they have with their body is infinitely better than our interpretation of the massage experience. Maintain open communication to navigate the map of their body. When we listen to the needs of the client we can let go of our ego and become the better versions of ourselves.
Practice and Exploration
- Safely place the hot stones against your flesh and describe how the stone feels. It is important to acquaint ourselves with these sensations, so we can more effectively empathize with our clientele.
- Experiment and explore the stone at varying temperatures. Start with it at room temperature to determine how you want to hold and use the stone.
- Use your knowledge of anatomy and physiology to explore the body with the hot stone. Have a partner vocalize how each area feels. If your partner is a massage therapist have them perform the exact same techniques on you. This will give you an idea of how it feels.
- Practice as often as you can. Find yourself a practice buddy and try new techniques and ideas with them. We might be working on dozens of clients in a week, but that isn’t the same as practice and exploration. Hone your craft in your downtime so your client gets the quality they deserve when paying for it.
- Be honest with your evaluations when working with another massage therapist. When something is always candy coated we can never taste its actual flavor. Work with your peers to encourage a strong industry. When your fellow massage therapists provide an amazing massage it supports the value of our product. Let’s work together to make sure the public knows massage is magnificent!