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Stone Massage

Stone massage


Stone massage is a form of bodywork that involves the application of heated or cooled stones (thermotherapy) to the body during deep tissue massage.


The use of materials of different temperatures on the body to bring about healing is an ancient technique. Stones have been used in many cultures, such as in the Native American sweat lodge, to adjust the temperature of the healing environment. Traditional lomilomi (Hawaiian massage) goes further and applies heated stones directly to the body.

Although stones have been used for many years as an adjunct to bodywork, their use was formalized in 1993 by Mary Nelson-Hannigan of Tucson, Arizona. Nelson-Hannigan developed a form of massage using a system of 54 hot stones, 18 frozen stones, and one room-temperature stone, which she calls LaStone Therapy. In addition to the use of stones as an extension of the therapist's hands in deep tissue massage, LaStone Therapy involves a spiritual element that opens energy channels (chakras) in the body, unblocks memories, and brings about spiritual healing.


Stone therapy has benefits for both the client and the massage therapist. For the client the application of heat and cold on the body:

  • Stimulates the circulatory system and promotes self-healing.
  • Softens and relaxes the muscles.
  • Helps to release toxins from the muscles.
  • Induces a state of deep relaxation that washes away stress .
  • Helps relieve pain and muscle spasms.
  • Creates a feeling of peacefulness and spiritual wellbeing.

Stone therapy also benefits the massage therapist. It reduces stress and strain on the therapist's hands, wrists, and arms so that the therapist can work longer and more efficiently. The stones do the heavy work, so that the possibility of repetitive stress injuries to the therapist's thumbs and wrists is decreased.


In many ways a stone massage session is similar to any other type of massage. The stones are heated (usually to about 130°F or 34°C) or frozen prior to the client's arrival. Massage oil is spread on the client's back and legs. The stones are then worked over the body. The client turns over and the process is repeated on the arms, hands, and fingers. The final parts to be massaged are the neck, head, and face.


The client needs no special preparation before receiving a stone massage. The therapist prepares the stones in advance and maintains them at the proper temperatures.


No special precautions are necessary in having a stone massage session. This type of massage is suitable for almost everyone.

Side effects

Generally a stone massage produces only the positive side effects of a feeling of peacefulness and spiritual renewal. No negative side effects have been reported.

Research & general acceptance

The use of stones to alter body temperature has been used for centuries. Little modern research has been done on its effectiveness, although it is a generally accepted technique.

Training & certification

LaStone Therapy offers its own certification for people already trained as massage therapists who complete specific courses in LaStone Therapy. Many of these courses are recognized for credit by the American Massage Therapy Association, the International Myomassethics Federation, Inc., the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, and the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals.



American Massage Therapy Association. 820 Davis Street, Suite 100. Evanston, IL 60201. (847) 864-0123.

LaStone Therapy. 2919 E. Broadway Blvd., Suite 224. Tucson, AZ 85716. (520) 319-6414.


Alaska Wellness. The Original Hot Stone Massage.

Tish Davidson

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