Thursday, 14 November 2013

Stoned At Home - Part 1

I have been using hot stones for the past eight years at Cornerstone Therapies, and I love my set of 50 basalt stones and 30 marble beauties. They work with me every day and I couldn't be without them! A common question from clients is 'did you name the business after them?'. The answer is no, I didn't, the business started two years before hand, but I am ever grateful for finding LaStone Therapy, Jane Scrivner and latterly The Jing Institute of Advance Massage, all of whom showed me how to use my stones to great effect within my treatment room.

Now I want to pass on my personal knowledge, passion and interest in stone work to all you guys at home!

My clients are wonderful; ever creative, interactive and switched on to their own personal journeys to find great ways to support their own full body wellness. Lately a few have been letting me know that they have picked up their own basalt stones from places they have travelled to; either seeing beautiful stones in rivers or on beaches, that they have taken home to use in-between treatments but once back they don't know where to start. Others have invested in stone kits from the internet and have not been happy with the stones or heaters that they have been sent.

So, this new mini-series is set out to help all you guys at home with your stones. It's time to get you stoned at home!

I am going to endeavor to create a couple of YouTube posts to go along side these so that you can follow along the set up of your stones at home as well, so hopefully these blogs and the videos will give you all the information you need to get cracking. But first we need to know why hot and cool stones are used in massage therapy both at home and in the treatment room so we know why we are looking at them as an important tool.


I use these black beauties - Baslat Stones
for my hot stone massage. 
Classically we use heat to help chronic soft tissue based pain ease. Chronic simply means that there has been pain experienced for more than three months. Heat allows a flow of blood, lymph and nutrients to rush to the site of pain and allows a flush into to the area. This means that the stagnant old scar material that may have collected there can be refreshed and taken away to the lymph nodes or broken down by the blood cells. The garbage collectors can take all the rubbish away. Also, heat is very nurturing and can be a soft analgesic to the muscle, so if you are wanting to ease the joints and tissues, it can feel wonderful and aid in taking the bruising pain down to a manageable level.

In practice -  I have found that heat also helps with fascia release, so I use hot stones on the body as placement tools to allow the fascia to melt and release a little before I actually get my hands in there. There is also a great effect in my massage as the stones create a lot more flow in a short period of time than my hands ever could. This means that I can get a lot more work down in an hour than if I didn't use the heat. You guys come to me for effective and personal measured results, not for me to simply spend ages rubbing some heat into you! I have also developed ways of working with trigger points and stretching with the use of my hot stones and I find they give me space in my client's bodies when I work.

At Home - There are many hot tools that you can use at home, (not least a hot water bottle), but for those who like to incorporate massage into your close knit relationships with family and friends, stones can help bring warmth and nurturing effects by just being placed onto the body. Clients of mine also enjoy just heating their stones up and using them as hand warmers in their pockets on walks, and placing them around their bodies as they watch TV rather than a wheat pillow.


I use cool marble to help not only calm acute injuries,
but also to energize and refresh the mind. 
I often feel sorry for cool work as people tend to shy away from it as they think it only means freezing acute injuries with ice pack. It's true, for an instant treatment to injuries ice is great as it contracts everything and keeps the injury safely in control, reducing pain and decrease the amount of swelling. However after the first five days, people enter the vague and grey area of Sub-Acute, which means that there is still tissue pain, but the scaring needs to be flushed away.

The text books say that Sub-Acute is three months, but seeing as I have never had a client that resembles anything the text books say, in my experience sub-acute can last for any amount of time. My shoulder is a great case study for this. I injured it years ago and sometimes it's a chronic pain and heat really works, but after a day in the garden it can nag me as is it's a fresh injury; so I grab some heat on chronic days and then cold on others.

The point is that you can use cool stones either on their own or with your hot stones. Only use them for 3 minutes at a time, but do embrace them!
  • You can use them in water with ice in it for the really cool work, 
  • in cold tap water that has been in the fridge, 
  • or just tap water for a not such a big freeze. 
Also, if you are in sub-acute you can mix and match your heat treatments: 
  1. 3mins of heat
  2. 3mins of cool
  3. repeat up to five times and end with heat (because it's nice!). 
Why use stones at all? Why not just use a hot-water bottle and a bag of peas?

Stones are always used when they have been in water and are thus seen as a 'wet' treatment. Whitney Lowe's book 'Orthopedic Massage Theory and Techniques' has a great reason for using heat treatments to stimulate the healing process, which can be read and applied to the concept of stones: 

"Regardless of whether the thermal modality is producing its effects from heat or cold, it is important to understand heat transfer. Heat is a form of electromagnetic energy, and when this form of energy moves from one location to another there is a transfer of energy regardless of whether the end goal is production of heat of cold."
"... Moisture in these heat packs helps improve the conduction of heat from the hot pack to the body". 

To help bridge the gap between the treatment room and home, I hope these two videos help you! 

We are all set up with the theory of Stone Work, so in the next blog we can start looking at great kits to use at home so you don't waste time and energy on investing in products that may not work quite so well. 


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