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Hot Stone Massage Therapy

Hot Stone Therapy: Understanding This Massage Practice

By Fitness, Health No Comments

A Quintessential Complement to a Relaxing Massage

There are many known benefits of massage therapy, from improved circulation and reduced stress to stimulation of the lymphatic system and increased joint flexibility. Many medical resources encourage readers to get massages, including Mayo Clinic and WebMD, and the major reason why is because people seem to be noticing a difference.

As the practice of massage continues to expand throughout the Western world, many variations of the treatment have come to light. From deep tissue and sports massage to Swedish and Thai massage to craniosacral therapy, there is an extensive number of techniques along with qualified specialists who are skilled at their respective styles of bodywork.

One form of massage therapy, known as hot stone therapy, has become a restorative, relaxing, and rejuvenating favorite. In order to encourage a better understanding of this massage practice, in this article we discuss hot stone therapy, explaining what exactly it consists of, along with the potential benefits of this treatment.

What Is Hot Stone Therapy?

Hot stone therapy is the practice of using heat-retaining flat rocks, typically basalt, on specific regions of the body (often referred to as acupressure points.) Hot stone therapy often begins with deep tissue massage (such as Swedish massage) to loosen tight areas of the body. Then, flat river stones that have been warmed between 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit are aligned along the spine, palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, and close to the toes. Your massage therapist may place them in other regions of the body as well, but usually, the spine is the most common region of application.

The stones are warmed in a specialized stone heater, which looks much like a crockpot. This is done to better control the temperature of the rocks in order to prevent any chances of burns or scalding.

Massage professionals do not use hot plates, microwaves, or ovens to warm the rocks, so to avoid injury, be sure to look out for any mispractice that might take place amongst inexperienced massage therapists.

Hot Stone Therapy: The Benefits

Due to the immensely relaxing nature of hot stone therapy, it possesses a number of benefits. The primary way in which this treatment helps is by loosening muscles, which is ideal for those who have aches and pains on the body.

Although many do receive hot stone therapy because of the benefits it might provide, their accounts of success are more so personal for research is seriously lacking. That is not to say, however, that it does not exist.

Moderate-pressure massage, which hot stone therapy does qualify as has been said to assist with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. A 2013 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice reported that participants with arthritis felt less pain after a mere month of medium pressure massage.

In addition to physical pain, hot stone massage is also at times linked to potentially reduced stress, and in turn, reduced anxiety and an overall better mood. A study published Bowling Green State University in 1997 found that those who received a 15-minute chair massage during a break were reportedly less stressed than those who did not and merely rested on their break.

Although related specifically to the broad description of massage, a 2014 study published in the journal Sleep Science found that postmenopausal women who were dealing with difficult insomnia slept better after receiving a massage, expressing it is a promising solution for such applications.

In addition to potentially reducing stress or anxiety, improving insomnia, and lessening various aches and pains, receiving a hot stone massage is a pleasant experience, particularly for those who enjoy receiving rejuvenating bodywork and find it to be effective.

While these studies mentioned are all a start, they do not fully confirm that hot stone therapy is a treatment for any of the above referenced medical conditions. As always, communicate with your doctor first if you determine that massage or hot stone therapy is the right option for your medical needs.

 

How to Practice Hot Stone Therapy

The process of application throughout a hot stone therapy appointment is fairly straight forward and normally unfolds in the following steps:

You will arrive at your appointment and the receptionist will have you fill out a health questionnaire if you are a first-time client.

Someone will guide you into a dressing room where you can prepare for your massage by removing your garments. Begin to relax already, the massage will be soon.

Your massage therapist will greet you and have you get situated comfortably on the massage table.

The massage therapist will have heated basalt or smooth stones in a specialized stone warmer which will heat the rocks to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit typically.

Your massage therapist will likely begin the massage by performing some type of deep tissue technique, for instance, Swedish massage. They may then refer to an anatomy chart for stone placement or simply place the stones on the acupressure points along the body that are most tailored to you.

Your massage therapist will likely ask you how you are feeling throughout the massage, but you should always remember to speak up and ask for any adjustments as desired.

The hot stones will be placed along the body and then rubbed into the tissues and muscles of the body to further stimulate healing, recovery, and rejuvenation. Because of the oils and application, the smooth rocks will slide with ease and the experience is often said to be comforting.

Some things to note:

Consider arriving a bit earlier to your appointment. Allow sufficient time to speak with the receptionist if need be, as well as prepare mentally and physically for such a relaxing experience. Spas often require you to fill out a questionnaire if you are a first time client, so you do not want to feel rushed or in a hurry right before your treatment. Arriving well in advance (10 minutes is plenty) will save yourself from any extra stress.

Communicate clearly with your massage therapist. Are you experiencing pain? Are the stones too hot? Speak up and let your specialist know right away! Hot stone therapy, although at times a little intense, should not be painful or uncomfortable. Although sometimes deep tissue massage can feel overwhelming, it should not leave you suffering. Your massage therapist wants your experience to be as pleasant as possible and this can be further achieved with a straightforward transmission of how you are feeling.

Drink plenty of water after your treatment! The heat from the stones can be at times dehydrating, and in general, it is important for the body to rehydrate after any form of bodywork. Opting for an herbal, caffeine-free tea is also a delightful and health-inducing way to unwind after a massage.

Use Your Discretion with Hot Stone Therapy

Hot stone therapy is not right for everyone. In fact, those who have heart disease, migraines, arthritis, decreased pain sensitivity, metal implants, tumors, diabetes, or high blood pressure should not agree to receive hot stone therapy. Please consult your doctor beforehand if you intend to get hot stone therapy and have a medical condition.

Understanding Hot Stone Therapy: Final Words

Overall, many clients experience hot stone therapy as a pleasant and refreshing body treatment that helps knots, aches, and pains release because of deeper applied pressure and increased heat. Although not the right option for everyone, those who are fond of deep tissue massage and intense application of pressure generally really enjoy hot stone therapy, and some claim the heat from the rocks is comforting and soothing.

Interested in becoming a licensed massage therapist? Searching for massage schools or career colleges in San Diego? ICOHS College is a non-profit vocational school offering a Professional Massage Therapist program. Our dedicated educators are passionate about supporting students on their journey towards reaching their career goals.

Reach out today and request more information to learn more about the Professional Massage Therapist program.

Epigenetics, Meditation and Massage – by Norriah Mease

By Health No Comments

For one moment, close your eyes. Go into the dream space, allow yourself an opportunity to imagine. What does your perfect life look like?
What does vibrant health feel like to you? Invite yourself a few moments to simply bask in this radiance pouring out from within.
Now, I invite you to come back into your body, back into this room. How did that feeling differ from your state of normal?
Is this state in another world or is it part of your everyday experience? If this seems foreign and unfamiliar, and is not a part of
your daily living, admit that to yourself. You may have negative associations with this truth, however, not all hope is lost. What if I told you,
that new research has proven, there is an affordable way to get there, it starts with your desire to do so. Before you allow that wave of discouragement,
or hopelessness wash over you, thinking to yourself, “I’ll never get there” take a few moments to absorb this information.

Invite the overwhelm to turn into open space for learning. That part is simple, it is a one-word answer: Epigenetics. Let’s begin with
understanding what exactly Epigenetics is.​Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological traits, or the external and environmental factors,
that turn our genes on and off, and in turn, define how our cells actually read those genes. It works to see the true potential of the human mind,
and the cells in our body​.

[1] In other words, within each one of our cells, we have a genetic blueprint of our complete make-up. From the color of our eyes, to the height of our bones, the sound of our voice. Our cells carry our entire DNA strand in every single one of those nuclei. Every tiny cell in our body carries the exact information of who we are. The only differing factor for these cells instructions lies in gene activation or gene silencing. ​Gene silencing refers to a mechanism by which cells shut down large sections of chromosomal DNA. It is generally used to describe the “switching off” of a gene by amechanism other than genetic modification. That is, a gene which would be expressed (turned on) under normal circumstances is switched off by machinery in the cell. Gene silencing is done by incorporating the DNA to be silenced into a form of DNA called heterochromatin that is already silent.

[2]. New research is now pointing to the ability humans carry to silence predisposed genes (such as cancer) and even reverse the effects of these
genes through self-care and meditative practices. Science is just now discovering what we have known all along and this is that we are ​truly​ in charge of our health and happiness. Unfortunately, with this understanding it is now more clear that this is not how the average american, or even the average human is living their life. The environment of cells cannot thrive in high pollution. Pollution is beyond filling our lungs with CO2 emissions and fossil fuels. It delves into all aspects of pollution, to include toxic chemicals in our water systems, processed foods, and even in our soil. In order to achieve max potential on a cellular level,we must first start with cleansing its environment. Detoxing our bodies through organic healthy eating, drinking pure water, and exercise can be your step one. The body has a natural healing capability, but it needs help in order to achieve this. Without deep restful sleep the body cannot function properly, and without a healthy lifestyle and routine, the body will not rest. It is working overtime to rid itself of toxins. The cycle will continue to feed itself until something breaks the chain.

There are several gateways to implement mindfulness into your life. Some common practices include, but are not limited to, yoga,
dance, meditation, cooking, and even singing. Among the most popular are yoga and meditation. The potential health benefits of yoga include: ​Stress reduction.​ A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. ​Improved fitness.​ Practicing yoga may lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. ​Management of chronic conditions.​ Yoga can help reduce risk factorsfor chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Yoga might also help alleviate chronic conditions, such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

[3] Meditation benefits and types are extremely varied and vast. There are loving and kindness meditations used to align the heart and the mind taught by the heart math institute. Guided meditations which are similar to vision quests led by teachers. Kundalini yoga which uses a combination of breathwork, chanting, and postures to bring one into a meditative state. Zen meditations where the student allows their mind to become empty, returning themselves to a state of “nothingness”. Of course our favorite, meditations to provoke epigenetics, which allow the power of meditation to reverse disease, anxiety, and any “dis-ease” in the body.

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of mindfulness meditation. The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author​ ​Richard J. Davidson​, founder of the​ ​Center for Investigating Healthy Minds​ and the William Jamesand Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where themolecular analyses were conducted. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

There are many leading scientists all fascinated by this work. If meditation truly is our key to success, how CAN we teach ourselves to get
out of this over-stressed, over-stimulated reality we are in now. We can take a look on how to connect all of these beautiful practices and
teach ourselves to enter the world of stillness and unlimited potential waiting in the quantum field. The most effortless segway into inducing the
parasympathetic state and implementing a solid self-care plan I can offer you is receiving regular massages. Massage is widely used in all cultures
to evoke feelings of deep relaxation and reduced anxiety. The anxiety-reducing and mood enhancing benefits of massage are probably related
to changes in EEG activity, decreased levels of cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which acts automatically
to calm the body and brain during​ ​stress​. Numerous studies show that moderate pressure massage is more effective than light pressure massage for reducing pain associated with different medical problems including fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Moderate pressure massage also improves​ ​attention​ and enhances the body’s immune response by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Functional brain imaging studies show that changes take place in many areas of the brain involved in regulating emotions and stress response including the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

[5] Receiving regular massages can train your nervous system how to release and relax. Paired with a movement class you can relax your way into a meditation practice that ultimately leads to unlocking your true potential, living your healthiest life.

In conclusion, your potential lies in your hands alone. There are various tools such as nutrition, mindful movement, breathwork, yoga,
and regular massages that can lead you into a consistent meditation practice. Once you learn the techniques of stillness and mindfulness,
your hard work and consistency will be the key to telling your DNA which genes to silence and which ones to express. You can choose to live a full
life of radiant health and unlimited joy. This entire journey can begin with one tiny step as simple as booking your first massage, and wouldn’t that
be a fun chapter to write.

Reference Page

[1] Lipton, Bruce (2019) What is Epigenetics? Retrieved from https://www.brucelipton.com/what-epigenetics

[2] Zhang Y. (2013) Gene Silencing. In: Dubitzky W., Wolkenhauer O., Cho KH., Yokota H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Systems Biology. Springer, New York, N

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff (2018, October 04) Yoga: fight stress and find serenity. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/yoga/art-2004 4733

[4] Sakai, J. (2014, December 04). Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation. Retrieved from https://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/

[5] Lake, J. MD (2018, October 19). Massage therapy for anxiety and stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201810/massa ge-therapy-anxiety-and-stress

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