Hot stones may be one of your client’s favorite aspects of massage. Now that she is pregnant, she may be reluctant to give up this little pleasure. Is it safe to continue using stones on these clients? Following some basic precautions, stones can offer significant benefits for expectant mothers and may also help you as you work to relax and relieve tension and stressed muscles.
Pat Mayrhofer, president of Nature’s Stones, Inc., says, “I have worked on expectant mommies from day one all the way through to delivery. My personal feeling is if a woman is accustomed to receiving massage, there is no reason not to continue to do so. The mommies feel it helps them to relax through delivery.”
She notes that all contraindications for using stones on pregnant women are the same as they are for any other type of prenatal massage, although she does offer some valuable advice. Before you begin, make sure to test the stones. “The temperature of the stones should be at the client’s comfort level, the same as in any massage,” Mayrhofer says. “Many women experience feeling warmer than normal and enjoy cold marble stones under their neck and in their hands.
Mayrhofer adds that the stones should not be so hot as to raise the core temperature of the client. “Use cold stones to neutralize the heat from the [hot] stones,” she notes. “To maintain neutral temperature in the body, the therapist could also place booties with cold stones on the feet. Marble is best to use because it doesn’t deposit cold, but helps to absorb the heat from the body.”
While it’s important to maintain the most appropriate temperature during stone massage, Mayrhofer does issue some other cautions. “Avoid the abdomen and never use hot stones below the umbilicus. Be very cautious on the legs. Do not use deep pressure on the legs. Long, gliding stokes will aid in relaxation,” she says.
Mayrhofer also advises therapists not to do a full body treatment with hot stones. “Only do spot treatments. The low back is the most common complaint,” she reports. “Most women enjoy low back, shoulders and neck work.” Based on the intake, you’ll be aware of particular trouble spots and concerns to address.
Using stones can make your job easier as well. “Stones can really aide the therapist, which can be used hot or cold or alternating for the most effect. Alternating cold marble and hot basalt increases the circulation, which carries more oxygen to the area and helps to relax the muscles more effectively,” Mayrhofer says.
“Stones are a wonderful way to relax muscles with little pressure. As a mommy gains weight, her body has to work harder to maintain its balance,” Mayrhofer points out. “Therefore, there is strain on her back, legs and neck. Using the stones – hot or cold – helps to achieve a deeper muscle relaxation. Special attention from someone who is caring helps to ease the mommy’s discomfort.”