To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Body & Spa: Degrees of Healing—Hot and Cold Therapies to Relax, Relieve and Refresh,” , in the November 2010 issue. Article summary: In between boiling and freezing, there is a full range of temperatures, most of which could be deemed cold, cool, hot or warm. Massage therapists may choose to use temperature as a tool in the session room, because the varying degrees of hot and cold, when applied properly, can elicit beneficial responses from the body.

by Patricia Mayrhofer

Stone massage has long been misunderstood. It is not a fluff-and-buff treatment; rather, it is the best therapeutic tool a practitioner can have. Any technique therapists can perform with their hands can also be performed with stones—be it neuromuscular therapy, reflexology, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy or connective-tissue work.

Now more than ever, with the creation of the carved basalt and carved marble stones, therapeutic stone therapy is a very beneficial modality.

Massaging with hot stones helps to relax the skeletal and smooth muscles, fascia and connective tissue. It also increases vasodilation, which increases blood flow, creating a means for healing and stress relief. This allows you, as a therapist, to work deeper with less discomfort to the client and less stress on your hands.

Adding cold marble stones also takes your massage to a new level. The application of cold acts as a vasoconstrictor. The immediate short-term effect is stimulating. The prolonged use of cold decreases metabolism, inflammation, pain and muscle spasms. It can also increase muscle tone and has an analgesic effect.

The cold marble stones pull the heat and inflammation from the body, making it the perfect medium for cryotherapy. Ice is wet and can be uncomfortable, so the body seems to embrace the cold from the marble.

There are four stages of the application of ice: initial cold, burning, aching followed by numbness and removal. After a 10-minute application, ice needs to be removed to allow the tissue to return to normal and eliminate the possibility of damaging the skin. In comparison, when the cold marble is applied to the skin, it immediately begins to absorb heat from the body and creates no danger of damaging skin.

Your clients will embrace the results of your therapeutic work with cold marble stones, especially after an injury or surgery. As a therapist, you will be happy with the effortless results you will achieve working with cold marble stones.

Contrasting heat and cold causes blood vessels to alternate between dilation and constriction. The overall effect is a dramatic increase in circulation.

Realize your greatest stone potential; be informed, be inspired and be effective. Increase the number of satisfied clients in your book, which in turn will increase your income.

Patricia Mayrhofer is president and founder of Nature’s Stones Inc., an international massage-stone company. She has 14 years of experience, teaching for 11 of those years in such places as Italy, Austria, Dominican Republic and the U.S.