It’s hard to find a person that isn’t dealing with a lot of stress in this day and age. Relationships and work are often the two most prominent causes of stress in our lives. Muscle tension and stress can lead to some serious health issues, which is why you should dedicate a part of your day to relaxing. One of the best ways to relax your muscles, overall body, and mind is to get a massage. A hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy that helps you relax, eases muscle stiffness, and increases metabolism and circulation. It is a natural therapy in which warmed stones are positioned on different parts of your body. They are usually placed along your spine, on your chest, face, stomach, feet, and palms. The use of these hot stones is what makes this type of massage unique. The stones that are used are typically made out of basalt, which is a material known for retaining heat. This type of massage has been popular for a long time. In fact, Native Americans used to treat aching muscles by placing hot stones on them. The stones used for this massage are very smooth and just the right temperature, so this therapy isn’t painful. If, however, you sense that the stones are too hot, let your massage therapist know right away. Caution Although this is a great therapy, it is not suited for anyone who is on medication that thins the blood, nor is it suitable for people who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Pregnant women should also avoid this therapy. In fact, if you’re suffering from any type of illness, make sure you consult your doctor before deciding to get a hot stone massage. This therapy may start with some classic massage technique in order to prepare your body’s muscle tissues. The therapist will then apply massage oil to your body and use gliding movements to move the stones along your muscles. The therapist will also place the stones on specific parts of your body and leave them there for a specific time period. This type of massage usually lasts somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes. Just like any other massage therapy, this one will also provide you with some great health benefits. Muscle Relaxation Your massage therapist will be able to manipulate your deep tissues much more effectively after your muscles relax properly thanks to the heat of the stones. Pain Relief Although generally all massages are known for relieving pain, a hot stone massage does a better job than most. Considering the intense nature of this massage, you will experience much greater pain relief during it. The massage therapist will be able to penetrate deeper thanks to the fact that this therapy incorporates heat. Improved Sleep Some people get massages as opposed to taking sleeping pills in order to fight insomnia. This shouldn’t be too surprising, seeing as how massages are known for promoting relaxation. Mental Benefits Most people are so stressed out every day that they have no idea just how much anxiety and stress has built up inside of them. Having mental clarity and peace of mind is something that most people think is hard to achieve. However, know that you can easily achieve it just by getting a quality massage. In fact, a hot stone massage may also combat certain symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. Improved Circulation As soon as the massage therapist starts putting heated stones on the trigger points of your body, the heat will start penetrating through your skin and into your deeper body tissues. Once this happens, your blood vessels will open, thus improving your circulation. If your circulation is good, more oxygen will be delivered to your muscles. This will help ease muscle pain and aches. General Relaxation and Stress Relief A hot stone massage, like many other forms of massage melts away stress, and the accompanying aches, pains and mental turmoil that it brings. The relaxation response elicited within the body through hot stone massage helps the body heal and brings calm to the body, mind, and spirit to counteract the many negative effects of stress.B
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study examining the effects of Swedish massage. Just one session had a positive effect on the body’s immune function and hormonal response.
The researchers concluded that just one session produces biological effects that are measurable and may have a positive effect on the immune system.
Of course, besides all the numerous benefits for the health of mind, body, and spirit, massage simply feels great! It can help elevate your mood and relax you, to promote happiness and a general sense of well-being.
The Swedish massage is probably the most well-known and common type of massage. It falls under the category of relaxation massage, and this technique uses long strokes, deep circular movements, vibration, kneading, and tapping.
There are various techniques that may be used in one Swedish massage session, including hot stones and reflexology. Every therapist will operate differently, but it’s vital that you get your massage from a licensed and trained therapist. You may choose to have a gentle and relaxing session, or a more vigorous and bracing massage.
If you are looking to have a specific pain issue worked on you should look for a clinical massage, or sports therapy. Swedish massage is designed for stress relief, and relaxation.
Every massage is different, and each type is defined by the strokes and style that is used. Every Swedish massage starts with your skin being lubricated with massage oil or lotion. Some therapists choose to use lotion rather than oil, because it provides better traction to grip the muscle tissue.
The initial strokes will warm the tissues and work them at the same time, breaking up any knots and releasing muscle tension.
According to WebMD, Swedish massage therapists use five different stroke techniques during the massage.
• Petrissage is a technique that uses kneading and squeezing- it works deep into the muscles, breaking up those nasty knots.
• Effleurage is those long, sweeping strokes over the entirety of your body, rather than focusing on one area. This is usually the stroke that begins and ends the session.
• The percussion technique is the tapping or chopping motion.
• Stretching is used for the therapist to manipulate your limbs into various positions to stretch those muscles.
• The friction technique is a series of short strokes, or circular strokes, generating heat. These strokes follow the muscle fiber lines or go against them to break up tight areas in the muscle tissue.
Swedish massage is very popular because it has so many benefits that range from improved emotional wellbeing to physical health.
The physical benefits include:
• The breakdown of knots in your muscles
• Improved blood circulation and flow
• Pain relief
• Release of lymphatic and metabolic wastes from the tissues
• The Mayo Clinic points to a number of conditions that can benefit from massage, including digestive disorders, headaches, anxiety, fibromyalgia, soft tissue injuries, insomnia, and more.
In terms of the mental benefits…
• Swedish massage provides relaxation
• Reduces stress – Because of the reduction in stress, it has an effect on your physical health, too, by increasing your immune system’s ability to fight illness and disease.
• Boosts positive mood and general feelings of wellbeing
If you feel run down, or you are constantly stressed, you are dealing with depression, or you have trouble sleeping, then Swedish massage is the perfect choice. We are surrounded by stress every day, but it’s how our body can handle it that makes the difference between poor health, and your body’s ability to bounce back.
With a reduction in stress and a stronger immune system, you will find it easier to fall into a healthy sleep cycle.
A good night’s sleep has an important effect on your immune system too, as sleep is when your body heals and your mind gets to rest and de-stress.
Make sure to find a reputable and licensed massage therapist. It is also very important to advise the therapist of any medical conditions you may have, and it is proper practice for them to ask. Massage therapists offer private services at your home or you can visit a spa. You typically have the choice of a male or female therapist.
If money is an issue, massage schools offer very low rates for massages delivered by students and it’s a great way to save money and still reap the benefits of Swedish massage.