From The Stone Age
Other traditional healers used stones from river beds and heated them in thermal pools or with hot coals. In Bali it is believed that the Batu stones are filled with “vitality and energy of the water that flows over them in an eternal stream”.
In some European cultures, hot stones or bricks were wrapped in cloth and placed over a person’s injury for relief. In China, hot stone therapy was used as early as 1500 BC as a method for relieving muscle aches and tension.
For the origins of the use of heated and cooled stones by modern-day massage therapists, one needs to look to the southwestern United States. In August of 1993, Mary Nelson, a massage therapist in Tucson, Arizona, had an intuition to incorporate several heated stones into a massage treatment. Although stones have been used for many years as an adjunct to bodywork, their use was formalized in 1993 by Mary Nelson of Tucson, Arizona. Nelson developed a form of massage using a system of 54 hot stones, 18 frozen stones, and one room-temperature stone, which she calls LaStone Therapy. In addition to the use of stones as an extension of the therapist’s hands in deep tissue massage, LaStone Therapy involves a spiritual element that opens energy channels (chakras) in the body, unblocks memories, and brings about spiritual healing. Mary found that basalt, a type of volcanic stone, held heat the best.
Soon she incorporated cooled marble stones as well, bringing in the full spectrum of temperature. Through self-treatment, on-going experimentation with her clients, prayer and dreams, she grew in her work with the stones. Within a few years, she began to teach what she had come to call LaStone Therapy. Miraval, a well-known spa in Tucson, made LaStone their signature treatment and it soon garnered national attention. The rest is history. LaStone Therapy Inc. now has instructors around the globe. All good things get copied, and this has certainly been the case with LaStone Therapy. Massage therapists who wish to study stone massage now have numerous choices of classes and videos. As well as being the Original Stone Massage, LaStone Therapy continues to offer the most thorough training and is one of the only forms that emphasize the use of both heated and chilled stones. Cool stones balance out heat imparted to the body by the basalt stones, and, as hydrotherapy has long recognized, it is far more therapeutic to skillfully use both polarities of temperature, hot and cold, than one or the other. I was trained and certified as a LaStone therapist, and much of what is taught in that class is still what I look for in a good hot stone massage.
Every culture has its own traditions and healing rituals in which stones were used including: laying the stones in patterns on the body, carrying or wearing stones for health and protection, using stones in the diagnosis and treatment of disease or during ceremonies such as sweat lodges or in medicine wheels. Today, many of us carry stones for good fortune or for healing; we even use pumice stones on our feet to soften the hard dry skin.
Today, hot stone therapy is used much in the same way as it was centuries ago and for the same benefits. One session can help you to relax, release, and rejuvenate. No wonder Hot Stone Therapy has been one of the fastest growing therapies in the USA, Europe and around the world.