To understand what stone therapy really is one of the forms of treatment or quackery, you need to figure out what this practice is, what types of stones can claim the title of “medicine”, and then decide whether it is worth spending time and money on stone treatment.
What is it
Stone therapy is not a new trend at all, as it may seem. This practice was used thousands of years ago in various ancient cultures to treat many diseases. Ancient Egyptians and Tibetans knew about the benefits of massage with highly polished and well-heated stones. Chronicles show that the ancient Chinese used heated minerals in 2000-1500 BC to relax muscles and improve the functioning of internal organs. By the way, individuals of the imperial family were massaged only with green jadeite. And Japanese monks in ancient times tied several warm pebbles to their bellies in order to maintain a feeling of satiety longer. And even the indigenous tribes of America also treated muscle pain with sun-warmed stones. In general, in the traditions of many peoples, stones were used to relieve pain, they were used in various rituals, and they also believed that if you always carry a certain mineral with you, you can strengthen your health and protect yourself from diseases.
Today there are many methods of treatment with the use of stones. But what is commonly called classical stone therapy these days is a variant of the wellness practice used in Chinese medicine. This technique was adapted to modern needs at the end of the twentieth century by American cosmetologist and masseur Mary Nelson Hannigan.
That is, stone therapy is a kind of massage, which is done with the help of cold and hot stones of different weights. During the procedure, the specialist acts on certain points and energy channels on the client’s body, which help to improve the functioning of a particular body system. Stones for the procedure are selected in a special way. It is believed that different breeds will be needed to treat different types of diseases. In addition, orthodox stone therapists are convinced that it is important to select stones for massage in shape: it should resemble that part of the body or organ that requires treatment.
Advantages of stone therapy
Proponents of alternative medicine believe that stone therapy is especially useful for diseases such as:
- stomach ulcer;
- disorders of the pancreas;
- angina pectoris;
- diseases of the genitourinary system;
- vegetative vascular dystonia;
- sleep disorders.
It is also believed that after the procedure, the amount of endorphins in the body increases – chemical compounds that are responsible for a good mood, which makes it possible to consider stone therapy as one of the methods of treating depression.
In cosmetology, with the help of stone therapy sessions, they try to fight the aging processes of the body. It is believed that “stone” procedures help:
- improve skin tone and elasticity;
- promote the cleansing of pores;
- accelerate the elimination of toxins from the body;
- improve lymph flow;
- eliminate stagnation of blood in the veins;
- cellulite is treated.
Stonemassage specialists say that this technique is unique, as it allows you to influence the human body from the point of view of 5 important aspects:
- A person is influenced by the energy of the stone itself.
- It turns out to be a reflex effect, which is created by alternately pressing on bioactive points on the body.
- There is a mechanical effect – by kneading the tissues with your hands.
- There is a deep thermal effect – through the use of cold and hot stones.
- It turns out that vibration massage is achieved by tapping stones against each other.
Types of stone therapy
In ancient times, the selection of minerals for massage was approached with special scrupulousness. Now this is treated a little easier, although some rules should still be followed. In particular, in order for therapy to give the expected effect, it is necessary at least to understand which stones to use – warm or cold.
Hot stone massage
For this procedure, choose flat and smooth stones that can retain heat. They are lubricated with an aromatic mixture and heated to 54-62 ° C, after which they are placed on the body in the area of massage points. As a rule, warm stones are laid out along the spine, on the stomach, chest, on the palms, as well as between the toes. Warm minerals create a deep warming of tissues, including muscles and bones. The procedure is often combined with a manual massage technique.
This type of stone therapy causes deep relaxation and puts the patient into a meditative state.
The effect of heat on the human body:
- causes dilation of blood vessels;
- enhances blood circulation;
- provokes more intense sweating;
- causes rapid breathing.
- Short-term exposure to warm stones causes:
- muscle relaxation;
- hyperemia of the skin;
- dilation of peripheral vessels of the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
Prolonged exposure to warm stones causes:
- increased sweating;
- relaxation of smooth muscles;
- activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for relaxation);
- reduced heart rate;
- calming breathing;
- activation of metabolic processes;
- general relaxation and calming, up to falling asleep.
The advantages of such a massage
- Relieves pain. In principle, most types of massage create an analgesic effect. But if we talk about stone therapy using heated stones, then due to the heat it has an effect on deeper layers of muscles, so this procedure relieves tension in muscles, tendons and ligaments better and faster.
- Improves blood circulation. Poor blood circulation can cause a feeling of fatigue, lead to the accumulation of lactic acid and fluid in the muscles. Exposure to heated stones promotes vasodilation, which in turn activates blood circulation. As a result, muscle cells receive more oxygen, which relieves pain and other unpleasant sensations in the tissues. In addition, massage according to the oriental technique involves the impact on certain points that contribute to the recovery of the body, the removal of toxins from it, as well as increasing human activity.
- Relieves stress. Massage is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress. The procedure using heated minerals helps not only to relax and calm down, but also has a beneficial effect on metabolic processes in the body. Chinese stone masseurs are sure that this kind of therapy helps to cope with anxiety disorders, improve the state of the cardiovascular system and prevent hypertension, which can occur due to stress.
- Promotes good sleep. Tension, anxiety, discomfort or painful sensations in the body worsen the quality of a night’s rest. But these problems can be avoided thanks to stone therapy, which ultimately contributes to a better night’s rest.
- Improves overall health. You can try to alleviate the symptoms of some autoimmune and chronic diseases with the help of stone massage. The procedure has the most noticeable positive effects in diseases associated with muscles and nervous tissue. Hot stone massage also helps to normalize the amount of the hormone arginine-vasopressin, which regulates blood pressure and water retention in the body. And thanks to proper blood circulation, toxins are eliminated from the body faster, the immune system is strengthened.
Cold stone massage
Although cold stone massage is less well known, it is also effective for relaxation and health promotion. In particular, cold stone therapy helps with headaches and diseases of the nasal sinuses. For the procedure, small smooth pebbles are usually used, the temperature of which is significantly lower than room temperature (it can be from +10 to 0 ° C).
The effect of cold on the human body:
- activates the processes of tissue metabolism;
- provokes the release of adrenal and thyroid hormones, which increases heat generation;
- causes contraction of blood vessels;
- reduces blood flow to the skin;
- the surface of the body gives off less heat, keeping its reserves in deep layers.
The result of short-term exposure to cold stones:
- enhancing cellular metabolism;
- dilation of coronary vessels;
- accelerated breathing;
- increased heart rate;
- weakening of the peristalsis of the digestive organs;
- reduction of sweating.
The result of prolonged exposure to cold: activation of the parasympathetic nervous system; outflow of blood from internal organs; the splitting of brown fat in the body begins; the splitting of glycogen reserves in the liver is activated.
The advantages of such a massage
- Relieves the symptoms of sinusitis. The cause of sinusitis can be a viral or bacterial infection, autoimmune diseases or allergies. Also, this condition can occur due to a curvature of the nasal septum or other structural abnormalities, polyps or even a dental infection. Sinusitis is usually accompanied by headaches, fever, swelling and pain around the eyes, ears or teeth. There are different methods of treating this disease, one of them is stone therapy. Cooled stones are placed on the forehead and around the eyes. In this case, exposure to cold helps to relieve puffiness and facilitate nasal breathing.
- Elimination of headaches. The use of cold therapy narrows blood vessels and reduces inflammation, so cold stone massage is considered useful for headaches. In addition, the cold creates a slight freezing effect, which also contributes to the dulling of painful sensations.
- Pain relief for injuries. Massage with cold minerals gives an effect similar to compresses used to relieve pain after injury. Cold stone therapy temporarily slows down blood flow, and also affects the inflammatory process and the work of the nervous system, which eventually helps to slightly relieve pain caused, for example, by a sprain or bruise.
- Improves mood. Stone therapy using cold is a good way to relieve stress, eliminate anxiety, increase concentration and even improve mood.
Using hot and cold stones at the same time
In many cases, stone therapy procedures are carried out with the simultaneous use of cold and hot stones. Heated minerals in contact with the body cause the expansion of blood vessels, and cold ones have the opposite effect. Their alternation creates an effect akin to a contrasting shower, which improves blood circulation and promotes the elimination of toxins from the body.
What types of stones are used for massage
The effectiveness of stone therapy largely depends on the correct choice of material for the procedure. So for hot stone massage, it is important to choose those that are able to retain heat for a long time. For cold massage, minerals are chosen, the physical characteristics of which, on the contrary, do not allow them to heat up quickly. Rough stones are used for deep cleansing of the skin and detoxification of the body. Smooth ones are chosen when the main purpose of the procedure is relaxation. It is also believed that polished pebbles are more effective in the treatment of headaches, to increase immunity, accelerate metabolic processes in the body, as well as to relieve fatigue.
Types of stones for stone therapy:
- Igneous rocks. This is a group of rocks that were formed from molten magma. The most commonly used igneous rock by masseurs is basalt. The color of basalt stones depends on their chemical composition. But most often they are black, gray or green. This rock is characterized by a high content of iron and silicon dioxide, which allows it to retain heat perfectly. Due to this characteristic, magmatic stones are successfully used for hot massages. Basalt is a rather heavy material, rough in natural conditions. Therefore, for massage purposes, it is usually ground and adjusted to the sizes and shapes convenient for massage.
- Sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks are formed on the surface of the Earth’s crust due to physical and chemical influences (precipitation from water, weathering, the influence of microorganisms and thermodynamic conditions). These are well-known sandstones and limestone rocks. In stone therapy, sea stones are most often used. Sandstone and limestone retain heat well, so they are mainly used for hot procedures. In addition, sea stones can be formed from coral and plant deposits. Such stones have a rich mineral composition, therefore they are considered more useful.
- Metamorphic rocks. When existing rocks are exposed to incandescent magma and pressure resulting from tectonic shifts, new materials are formed – metamorphic rocks. In other words, these are modified igneous or sedimentary rocks.Massage therapists use stones of this category for cold stone therapy. Usually, marble, slate or jade are chosen for the procedures, which are easily cooled and keep their temperature for a long time. Stones of this category are always amenable to careful grinding and shaping.
- Minerals and precious stones. In some spas, precious stones or minerals are used for stone therapy instead of metamorphic ones. In such cases, the choice is often determined by the healing properties attributed to the breed. The most popular in this regard are amethyst, topaz, obsidian, tourmaline and various types of quartz. But such materials as diamond, pearl, garnet and turquoise, as a rule, are used by specialists working with the client’s chakras. It is believed that the stones of this group are able to charge a person with vital energy. In addition, specialists select the type of stones for the type of disease. For example, lapis lazuli is usually used to treat inflammation. For suppurations, ulcers and skin diseases – amber. To increase skin tone – pearls. Diamond helps to slow down aging, remove wrinkles and flabbiness. And for good relaxation, the masters use rock crystal.
What does the stone therapy procedure look like
When a person first hears about stone therapy, most likely, he immediately remembers the popular promotional photos of spas, which depict girls on whose bodies polished black stones are laid out in smooth lines. But this is not the only technique used in stone therapy. Depending on the technique, from 2 to 60 stones can be involved in the procedure.
- Combined technique of massage with hands and stones. In this case, the stones are used as a massage tool. There can be from 2 to 10 of them. During the procedure, there may be no direct contact of the stone with the skin – in order to avoid burns. If the client does not suffer from allergies, then aromatic oils can also be used, which enhance the beneficial effect of massage.
- Massage exclusively with stones. This type of stone therapy is a kind of symbiosis of acupressure and a hot water bottle. During the procedure, heated stones are applied to certain points on the body. For example, with cholelithiasis and cholecystitis, heat affects the spine. With angina pectoris, warm stones are placed on the left collarbone. For the treatment of urinary incontinence, heat is placed on the upper part of the sacrum. During this procedure, the master can use about 60 stones. The classic set is 20 marble and 40 basalt.
The duration of one session of stone therapy is about 60 minutes. But in order to achieve a visible cosmetological or therapeutic effect, the procedure is advised to take courses.
What you need to know before the procedure
People often underestimate the effect of massage on the body. Nevertheless, a massage therapist should be chosen as carefully as a doctor. An improperly performed procedure (too intense or too soft, pressing on the wrong points) can cause unpleasant side effects. If this is a manual massage, then after improper manipulations, a pinched nerve may occur, and after poor-quality stone therapy, you can get burns or even more severe inflammation. Hence the first rule of stone therapy: the procedure should be carried out by an experienced specialist.
It is also important to pay attention to how much the salon or clinic adheres to the rules of cleanliness. All items that will come into contact with the client’s body must be disinfected. Do not forget: fungal disease and all kinds of infections are transmitted very easily.
In addition, heavy food should be avoided immediately before and after the procedure. On the contrary, after the massage, you need to drink a lot of clean water. Stone therapy improves lymph flow, and in order for toxins to be easily excreted from the body, it is necessary to maintain hydration at the proper level.
Contraindications for stone therapy
Stone therapy, like other types of massage, can bring not only benefits, but also harm. Before deciding on the procedure, it is important to find out what contraindications there are for stone massage.
First of all, the procedure is contraindicated during an increase in body temperature and infectious diseases. Also, you should not go for a massage in the presence of cuts or other skin damage – there is a risk of infection. Stone therapy may be contraindicated after a recent operation, pregnant women, people with cancer, varicose veins, heart disease, in the presence of edema, as well as persons with reduced pain sensitivity (for example, paralysis).
Mankind has believed in the mysterious power of stones since ancient times. They were used in magic and healing. Even today, amulets for happiness are made from minerals, and some are convinced that the energy of the stone can affect a person’s well-being and even character. But even those who do not believe in the mystical power of minerals are convinced that stone therapy is a great way to relax and improve the work of the whole body.