by Pat Mayrhofer
Hot-stone foot and hand massage has grown tremendously in popularity. Even though it was originally designed for nail technicians, it is being implemented by many massage therapists, reflexologists and estheticians.
Adding hot stones to pedicures and manicures has been a successful modality for nail technicians. The hot stones provide a way to raise the level of what a nail technician can offer clients. Clients enjoy the added warmth and the focus on massage that this modality provides. Spas, hair salons and nail boutique owners have been delighted with the increased revenue their nail department has been able to produce because of this service.
Implementing hot-stone massage for the feet and hands can be just as successful for massage therapists. There are many opportunities for massage therapists to use this modality to increase business for spas, salons, boutiques, dental and doctor offices, health centers and health clubs where they are employed, as well as increasing their own book of business.
Hot-stone foot and hand massage can be a stand-alone treatment offered to individuals who prefer not to undress because of body type, a recent surgery, scarring, a skin condition, medical condition, or for people who have limited time, do not want to get their hair disheveled or have a particular problem with either their hands or feet. This modality gives massage therapists the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their stone massage skills on prospective clients. Hot-stone foot and hand massage can be an introduction to how wonderful a full-body, hot-stone massage can feel.
In hair salons, while patrons sit with their hair color processing, there is a perfect opportunity to utilize idle time. Massage therapists could offer a hot-stone foot or hand massage to help pass time for the client. The individual will likely be happy to receive two treatments at the same time.
In dental offices, a massage therapist could offer hot-stone foot massage to help relax the anxious patient in the dental chair. Many dental procedures are long and stressful, and working with hot stones offers deep relaxation. The American Dental Association recommends any techniques that reduce stress and encourage relaxation.
In health clubs, patrons may overwork their arms and legs during a workout. Massage therapists can offer special treatments with stones, hot and cold, to relieve problems like plantar fasciitis and carpal tunnel. The therapist can take it a step further and work the legs and arms to address such problems as shin splints, tennis elbow, golfers elbow and shoulder problems, as well as hip and low-back problems.
Massage therapists can take their hot- and cold-stone massage expertise to doctors specializing in foot and hand problems. Many doctors are open to employing massage therapists who have specialized skills.
Reflexologists are learning how helpful stones can be at relieving stress and strain from their fingers. They are also realizing the advantage the stones have in reducing discomfort in their clients. Reflexology can affect the health of the client, and now with hot-stone reflexology, can be more efficient. One important point is the solar plexus reflex. This point is credited with storing all of our stress, so when this point is pressed, it can release stress and transform our body into a more relaxed state. Decreasing stress allows the circulation of blood to flow unconstrained and to better cleanse the toxins and waste from the body. As a result, the blood can carry oxygen and nutrition to the body’s cells.
There are 7,000 nerves in the feet; therefore, massaging the feet can be extremely pleasurable and relaxing. Therapists, reflexologists, nail technicians and estheticians can help a client alleviate anxiety by bringing on a state of deep relaxation.
Research completed by Ron Melzack and Patrick Wall suggests that when you rub an area that is hurting, you are basically preventing the pain message from being sent to the brain. Massage is also credited with helping the body to release naturally produced chemicals or painkillers, such as endorphins. Additionally, research has shown that foot and hand massage can significantly reduce pain after surgery.
The benefits of foot massage are many, and recipients say they are more than worth their weight Hot and cold stones are the therapist’s and technician’s best friends; the stones share the workload and save the strain on the therapist’s hands. The old adage applies here: “Learn to work smarter, not harder.” Therapists and technicians can let the stones help bring them new business, more satisfied clients and a wider variety of techniques.
Please look for future articles on www.MASSAGEmag.com, as I explore the exciting arena of stone massage. I will write about safety issues, contraindications, the expansion of stone therapy to different modalities, the evolution into cold-stone therapy with marble stones and now the resurgence of stone massage with the innovation of carved basalt stones. I will also discuss accessory products, such as massage oil, essential oils, heaters, textiles, DVDs and seminars. I look forward to an ongoing conversation with you.
Pat Mayrhofer is president and founder of Nature’s Stones Inc., an international massage-stone, and education and supply company. She is a massage therapist with more than 15 years of experience, having taught for 13 of those years in Italy, Austria, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Mayrhofer and her staff have created a comprehensive series of live, hands-on training programs, educational DVDs available for distance learning and a line of associated stone and textile products. For more information, visit www.naturestonesinc.com.