What Is Lava Shell Massage?

Heated Shells Provide A Relaxing Massage Experience

Lava Shell Massage
••• A real Tiger-striped Clam shell is used for heated Lava Shell Massage. Photo by Spa Revolutions

Lava Shell Massage is a relaxing massage that uses heat, like hot stone massage and La Stone Therapy.  The therapist gently massages your body with Tiger-Striped Clam shells from the Philippines. The shells used to be thrown away after people ate the clams, so it's an eco-friendly move to turn them into a massage tool.

Some spas are offer Lava Shell Massage instead of hot stone because the preparation and clean-up is much easier.

 A Lava Shell Massage only uses four shells, as opposed to dozens of stone, all of which have to be sanitized after the treatment.  Also, with Lava Shell there is no need to heat up the stones in a big electric cooker filled with water.  

The therapist simply inserts a sachet of minerals, dried sea kelp, and algae into a hole in the shell, adds sea-water and plugs it up again. The chemical interaction between the ingredients creates heat inside the shell that lasts one to two hours.  

While a Lava Shell massage has some similarities to hot stone massage, in particular the element of heat, it also has some important differences.  It's primarily a relaxing, soothing massage, warming and soothing the muscles without a lot of pressure. If you want deeper work, hot stone is a better choice.

What Is a Lava Shell Massage Like?

When I got a lava shell massage, the therapist lightly massaged my body, using the long traditional strokes of Swedish massage while holding the shells.

What I liked was how the clam shell fit into the palm of her hand, so I could feel both the heat of the clam shell and the touch of her fingertips. They are also highly polished, so they glide easily over the skin and feel very nice.  I also liked the fact that the Lava Shells held their heat longer than stone, so she didn't have to interrupt the massage to switch out the stones as often.

A few quibbles: the Lava Shells were a little too hot when they first touched my skin, but cooled quickly. The shells get hot the more they sit, and cool off when they are used, and it can be a little tricky to control the temperature.  As always, you should speak up if the shells are too warm, especially at the beginning.  I'm also sensitive to noise and noticed a hissing sound that was slightly distracting and turned out to be the two Lava Shells waiting to be used.  

How Does Lava Shell Compare To Hot Stone?

The Lava Shell massage was very soothing and gentle, and is a good choice if you like heat and just want to relax. I wouldn't get it if I had specific muscle aches and pains that wanted the therapist to address.

Most therapists use hot stones to warm up the muscles, then work more deeply with their hands. They also place the stones on your belly, in the palms of your hands, even between your toes. I love hot stone massage when it's done well, but it is highly dependent on the therapist's technique. Some therapists just grind away at you with the stones, and very little sensitivity.

Lava Shells are easier to master because they're smaller and the therapist is just gently gliding them over your body.

So get hot stones if you want more of a deep tissue massage. Try Lava Shells if you want to relax.