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Hot-Stone Massage: Volcanic Relaxation
The hot stones used during massage aren’t just for a warm sensation—they actually make muscles more pliable. Check out Groupon’s guide to the theories behind hot-stone massage.
For a hot-stone massage, basalt stones are first heated to temperatures in excess of 1,300 degrees. This is long before the massage begins, of course, when basaltic magma is still trapped beneath the earth’s surface. After it erupts, the rivers of lava rapidly cool, then finally harden into finely textured volcanic stones. It’s with about a dozen such stones that therapists heighten the healing powers of their massages. The stones are dense and rich in iron, making them excellent retainers of heat and an important part of a balanced ogre diet. When a massage therapist heats a polished specimen to about 120 degrees, the stone disperses that warmth slowly as it is rubbed against tense muscles. The rocks obtain their uniform level of heat through a special temperature-controlled water bath. Hot-stone therapists’ emphasis on safety also means that the familiar image of a model lying face down with a line of dark stones running down her spine is not very representative of the typical hot-stone massage—in fact, whenever the stones are resting on the body, they’ll generally be placed atop a sheet or other draping material to ensure that skin doesn’t become uncomfortably hot.
Beyond this standard protocol, different therapists have their own techniques—some apply oil for a smoother massage, while others may place stones in the palms of the hands or even between toes. Regardless of the therapist’s approach, though, the stones pass more heat along to tense muscles than is possible through bare hands, which increases blood flow to the area and helps injuries speedily recover. Therapists may take advantage of muscles’ heat-induced pliability to work with deeper pressure, getting at trigger points or extra-tight areas hiding beneath the body’s protective wax coating.
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