To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “The Migraine Miracle: Cold Stones and Aromatherapy Take the Pain Away,” by Kelly Lott, in the April 2012 issue. Article summary: Each year, approximately 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches. As stress levels, hormonal imbalances and environmental toxins reach an all-time high, this number is predicted to steadily rise. As a massage therapist in today’s marketplace, it is important to understand what causes a migraine headache and the treatments available to help your clients.

by Pat Mayrhofer

Stone therapy is not just about hot stones anymore; working with cold marble stones can be very beneficial to a therapist in deep-tissue corrective massage as well deep relaxing massage. Unlike with ice, the client’s body embraces the cold from marble stones.

Even though the marble tends to feel 11 degrees colder than its environment, the body accepts the cold from the marble with ease. Cold marble stones seem to draw the heat and inflammation from the body, instead of depositing cold, as with ice or artificial cold products.

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 spasm; it can also increase muscle tone and has an analgesic effect. Depending on the specific temperature, cold applications can increase or decrease circulation.

Therapeutically, cold marble stones are extremely beneficial directly after an injury to help reduce swelling. During a deep-tissue massage, the cold massage stones can soothe the irritated area, helping to prevent bruising and reduce isolated stress for the client.

Like their hot-stone counterparts, the cold marble stones can relax tension and release restrictions in muscles. Alternating the effects of the cold marble and hot-massage stones are dramatic, causing the blood vessels to vacillate between constriction and dilation. The application of heat and cold causes predictable physiological changes in the body that can have powerful, positive therapeutic effects. The application may be general or local, and of short or prolonged duration. We like to call this effect vascular gymnastics.

Surprisingly, the cold marble stones can be relaxing. Two wonderful examples are the Cool Lift Face Rejuvenation and the Executive Stress Release treatment. The Cool Lift Face Rejuvenation creates a temporary face-lift by incorporating manual massage with hot-stone and cold-stone massage to create a sensual and relaxing treatment.

In the Executive Stress Release treatment, the client is supine on cold marble stones, while hot and cold stones are alternately placed strategically on the body. Unlike in a hot-stone treatment, lying stationary on the marble stones will not damage the skin.

After a relaxing face, scalp and foot massage, the client turns over and is massaged with hot and cold stones. The result is dramatic: The client feels as if she has had a great back massage, while feeling relaxed and energized at the same time.

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

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