To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “A Touch of Japan: The Hot Stone Meridian Technique,” by Pat Mayrhofer, in the July 2011 issue. Article summary: The Hot Stone Meridian technique involves the artful application of pressure via warmed stones along the body’s energetic pathways, or meridians.

by Bruce Baltz

As a traditional clinical practitioner, I used to think stones were just a massage tool when I first started working with them. My intensions started to change as my studies became more earth-based and I realized how grounding the stones could be for my clients and I.

This evolution started for me when I was accepted in the LaStone Therapy teaching program where, in my first stone class, I was told the stones were alive. I must say, that teaching was hard for me to wrap my New York City brain around. Mary Nelson, founder of LaStone, was the first person to offer this idea, which, looking back, was a changing moment in my career as a massage therapist.

I have been teaching stone massage since 1999, and although I did get to the place where I could accept this new way of thinking–that the stones are alive–I thought there must be a way for science to support this understanding.

After living in Miami, Florida, for a few years, I had the opportunity to speak to a research scientist and a geologist about this. They explained to me that stones consist of a matrix, so this means all stones are porous. Even a diamond is porous, just much less than other stones. Since all stones have a vibration and we work with oil or some kind of lubricant, very often soap and water alone are not enough to clean them.

What I was told is that if oil gets into the matrix of the stone, it can affect its vibration and its ability to get hot and retain heat. So I would recommend after washing your massage stones you put them outside, which provides a deep cleanse by drawing out the impurities that soap alone cannot effect.

Another effective way of cleansing massage stones is to put them in a large container of dry salt. I personally use Epson salt or sea salt, but any salt will work. Only do this with basalt stones, which are the ones you heat. For therapists who work with marble for cooler applications, do not put them in dry salt because the stone is too soft and it could pit and become rough.

You need to store your stones somewhere, so it might as well be either outside or in salt to ensure the effectiveness of their healing assistance. Otherwise, the stones eventually start to lose their ability to remain hot and you will have to turn the heater up higher to get them to a working temperature.

No matter which method you use, if your massage stones are taken care of on a daily basis, they will assist your client in his or her healing process at the highest level.

Bruce Baltz, L.M.T., is vice president of education and business development for Bon Vital’.