The use of heat as a therapeutic modality has been around for centuries. You will have certainly used a hot water bottle to soothe your belly when you had a stomach ache. We often naturally turn to heat when we are in pain: e.g. hot baths, hot water bottles, wheat cushions, compresses and jacuzzis.
This much can be said for certain about hot stones: they are deeply relaxing, and they enable the massage therapist to work much deeper, improving the outcome for the client. Heat can be used as inexpensive self-care at home (no stones required!). When applied before trigger point work, acupressure and stretching the results can be truly amazing.
Heat can be used very effectively in all cases of chronic pain. The positive effects of using heat are:
- Heat makes us feel nurtured, relaxed, cared for and positive
- Heat helps the body to relax, enabling the therapist to work more deeply
- Heat has a direct effect on tight tissues, reducing muscle tightness and pain
- Heat increases circulation, thus improving the healing time of soft tissues
- Heat helps to increase the pliability of fascia
Research has shown that heat can be an overwhelmingly positive modality for people who suffer from lower back pain, arthritis, neck pain, wrist pain, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, Fibromyalgia, digestive problems, menstrual pain and insomnia. Furthermore, heat can help to free up the fascia and improve ‘range of motion’ of joints, for example, when suffering from a frozen shoulder. I use hot stones every day in my work and have found them to be a tremendously powerful modality bringing clients relief from pain, better range of motion, relaxation and a sense of wellbeing. If you have never tried them, why not give them a go and experience for yourself the power of hot stones!
Fairweather, R. and Mari, M. S. (2016) ‘The warm-up act: the power of hot and cold in advanced clinical massage’, in Massage Fusion. The Jing method for the treatment of chronic pain, pp 73-84. Handspring Publishing, Edinburgh.