LaStone Therapy is trademarked style of massage that uses both hot and chilled stones to massage the body. While cold stones may not sound appealing, they feel refreshing on your warmed skin and have a beneficial effect on the body. Called contrast therapy, alternating hot with cold stimulates the circulatory and lymphatic systems, helps detoxify the body. It also relieves pain and has an invigorating effect.
LaStone Therapy is similar to, but not exactly the same as hot stone massage, which is a generic phrase that can be used by anyone, or lava shell massage. LaStone uses 54 hot stones, 18 chilled stones, and one room temperature stone. LaStone can only be performed by someone who is certified to be a LaStone therapist. This is good because insufficient training is sometimes a problem with hot stone massage.
Why LaStone Therapy Is Better Than Most Hot Stone Massage
Many people have had mediocre hot stone massages, where the therapist was heavy-handed with the hot stones. It's not that easy for the therapist to maintain their sensitivity to touch with a big rock in their hand! And the body can start to overheat, so the chilled stones are a good idea.
Who Developed LaStone Therapy?
LaStone was developed in 1993 by Mary Nelson, a massage therapist and native of Tucson who began to get visions and verbal guidance from her Native American Spirit guide.
"With each day's work, I was intuitively led to use more stones, and developed a method of progressively opening up the energy channels (Chakras) of the body," she says.
The idea quickly caught on and was adapted to become hot stone massage, a treatment that is now found in almost every spa. LaStone involves a more spiritual or metaphysical component than simple hot stone massage.
In LaStone Therapy, the stones themselves are called the "Stone Clan People" and are considered to have healing properties.
What Happens During LaStone Therapy
LaStone therapy begins with gentle stretches and Swedish massage to warm up the body's muscle tissue. You sit up and the therapist places two rows of warm stones on the treatment table in alignment with both sides of your spine. The therapist covers them with a soft towel to protect you from the heat, then assists as you lay back down on them.
Then he or she places stones of varying weights on the body's key energy channels, including the seven main chakras. Pebble-sized warm stones are placed between your toes and medium-sized flat stones are placed in your palms. The therapist also uses both hot and cool stones as an extension of his or her hand while doing Swedish massage.
Alternating between heat and cold both stimulates and relaxes the circulatory system, which is very detoxifying for the body. In cooperation with heated stones, chilled marble stones create a dramatic movement of fluids within the body.
The best hot stone massage I've had, by far, was LaStone Therapy. It may have just been the individual therapist, but she was highly skilled with the stones, which really did seem to come to life in her hands.
If you're a massage therapist, you can get training in LaStone Therapy massage.
As always, speak up if anything is uncomfortable during your LaStone Therapy massage.