By Anna Lynn Sibal
Photo © Boris Djuranovic
You have probably seen this on TV or in a magazine, or perhaps experienced it for yourself – stones being placed on different parts of the body, often on the spine, on the palms and between fingers and toes, as part of a therapeutic massage. Such a massage technique is called hot stone massage, but more popularly, La Stone therapy.
La Stone therapy is a technique in massage that was invented and patented by Mary Hannigan in 1993. This massage technique involves the placement of smooth basalt stones, stones that are heated by water up to 120 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, on focal points of the body. As stated above, these focal points include the spine, the palms of the hands and between the fingers and the toes. Basalt stone is used because it retains heat a lot better than most stones, although some massage therapists also make use of zinc, black granite or malachite.
The idea behind La Stone therapy is that the heat emanated by these warm stones penetrates deeper into muscle tissue for a more profoundly relaxing effect. The heat loosens up muscles tightened and tensed by stress, thus taking away the pain and the cramping.
Moreover, the heat from these stones encourages the blood to circulate more properly within the body to provide more nutrients to individual cells. At the same time, the heat of the stone also stimulates the lymphatic system into transporting waste materials coming from individual cells more efficiently.
Another thing that the heat does is to release the energies of the body that are blocked by fatigue and stress, allowing these energies to flow more freely through the body. The nervous system is put into a calmer state, and thus relieves the mind of anxiety.
All in all, the heat of the stones used in La Stone Therapy rejuvenates the body and reawakens its ability to heal itself. It arrests the effects of stress in the body, as we know that stress is often a catalyst in the development of certain diseases.
Hand in hand with the heated basalt stones, pieces of frozen marble are also applied to the skin at certain points in the performance of La Stone Therapy. The frozen marble is supposed to control the dilation of the blood vessels. The application of heated basalt stones and pieces of frozen marble onto the skin is usually accompanied by a dose of Swedish massage.
La Stone massage can be done at home even if you are not a massage therapist. You cannot do this kind of massage to yourself, but you can certainly give and receive it with a partner. There are massage kits containing stones of different sizes for placing on the spin and on the hands and for insertion between the toes and the fingers that can be readily bought from health and wellness stores. One of the keys to performing this massage is communication between the giver and the receiver as to whether the stone is too hot or if it’s not warm enough, or if the pressure applied by the giver of the massage is too hard or too weak.
La Stone massage is a massage therapy that you should certainly try out.