A massage therapist gives stone massages with special heated or chilled stones to treat a range of complaints. The therapist places the stones on particular points of the body, such as the neck, spine and back. She may also move the stones around on the body, using them as massage tools. Hot stones treat conditions such as arthritis, relieve stress and encourage relaxation. Cold stones ease inflammation and help injured muscles. A massage therapist chooses massage stones based upon their heat or cold retention, their mineral qualities and their smoothness.
Massage therapists often use basalt stones in their work; they are the most common type of massage stone. Basalt, a type of igneous rock, forms from the hot lava of an erupting volcano. It hardens and then weathers in the open. Depending upon the type of climate and degree of weathering, basalt stones can be black, gray or green. Therapists prefer basalt stones that are flat and smooth so that they lie on the body correctly. Once the basalt heats, it will remain hot for a long time, which is ideal for massage.
Some therapists prefer to use sedimentary rocks, such as marine stones, limestone and sandstone, for their healing mineral components and their heat-holding properties. Marine stones form from plant and coral sediments on the ocean floor. They are not only mineral-rich, but may be smooth enough to use on the body without the application of oil.
A therapist will usually give a cold stone massage with shaped and polished marble stones. The client is given a cold stone massage to relieve inflamed tissue or to soothe. Marble, a metamorphic rock, holds cold extremely well and is easy to chill in ice water. Slate, jade and other metamorphic rocks may be suitable for massage as well.
Minerals and Gemstones
Therapists use some minerals, such as white quartzite, as a substitute for marble when giving a cold stone massage. A massage therapist may choose special minerals to give a crystal massage, a form of stone massage that focuses on healing, balancing and energizing the body. Quartz is often used as a massage stone, as are topaz, tourmaline, obsidian, hematite and amethyst. Some therapists select gemstones in colors corresponding to the chakras, the spots on the body corresponding to energy centers in ancient Indian tradition. These gemstones include garnet, diamond, pearl, turquoise and various kinds of quartz. Other therapists choose massage stones based upon their color, which can indicate certain therapeutic qualities. Light pink quartz, for example, is considered by some therapists to energize the body, while blue stones promote cooling and black stones are healing.