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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

4 Differences between hot and cold stone massage


4 Differences between hot and cold stone massage

1. Stone types


Short Answer: Hot Stone Massage is usually done with basalt (lava) stones that are slightly porous so they absorb and retain heat well. Cold stone massage is usually done with stones made of marble which naturally stays cooler than body temperature and stays colder longer when chilled.

More details: Wether hot or cold, the stones used during massage are usually a natural, organic material. A small amount of oil, either scented with essential oils or not, are used to help the stones glide more easily over whichever body part they are being used on. Hot basalt stones are often able to be used in their natural form with maybe only a small amount of smoothing and polishing. Marble stones are usually formed and cut into specific shapes since it is a little more difficult to find a perfectly small, flat, round piece of marble in "the wild".


4 Differences between hot and cold stone massage

2. Temperature


Short answer: Hot Stone Massage utilizes heated stones to relax muscles and improve blood flow while Cold Stone Massage uses chilled stones to reduce inflammation and alleviate muscle tension.


More details: Hot Stone Massage is typically performed with basalt stones, originating from volcanic lava, known for their slight porosity which allows them to absorb and retain heat efficiently. These stones, heated to around 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit, are strategically placed on the body and used in massage strokes to relax muscles and enhance blood circulation. In contrast, Cold Stone Massage uses marble stones, which naturally remain cooler than body temperature due to their high thermal conductivity. When chilled, marble stones retain their coldness for extended periods, making them ideal for reducing inflammation and soothing acute muscle pain by constricting blood vessels and numbing affected areas.



4 Differences between hot and cold stone massage

3. How they feel


Short answer: Hot Stone Massage provides a warming, soothing sensation that helps relax tight muscles and improve circulation. Cold Stone Massage offers a cooling, refreshing sensation that can help with inflammation and pain relief.


More details: Hot Stone Massage delivers a comforting, warming sensation as heated basalt stones penetrate deeply into the muscles, helping to relax tight and tense areas while simultaneously boosting blood flow and oxygenation throughout the body. This enhanced circulation aids in reducing muscle stiffness and promoting overall relaxation. Conversely, Cold Stone Massage offers a crisp, cooling effect using chilled marble stones, which are effective in reducing inflammation and alleviating pain. The cold constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity in targeted areas, providing immediate relief from swelling and discomfort, making it particularly beneficial for acute injuries, migraines, and sinus congestion.


4 Differences between hot and cold stone massage

4. Purpose


Short answer: Hot Stone Massage is primarily aimed at relieving muscle stiffness and increasing circulation while Cold Stone Massage focuses on reducing swelling and soothing irritated tissues.


More details: Hot Stone Massage primarily targets the relief of muscle stiffness and the enhancement of circulation by using heated basalt stones. The warmth from these stones penetrates deeply into the muscles, promoting relaxation and flexibility, and increasing blood flow to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to tissues, which aids in healing and reduces muscle tension. On the other hand, Cold Stone Massage is centered on reducing swelling and soothing irritated tissues with chilled marble stones. The cold therapy helps constrict blood vessels, which decreases inflammation and numbs sore areas, providing effective pain relief and calming irritated or injured tissues, making it ideal for treating acute injuries, post-exercise soreness, and inflammatory conditions.



4 Differences between hot and cold stone massage

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