From the MASSAGE Magazine article, “There’s A New Stone in Town: Carved, Quarried Basalt Massage Stones,” by Pat Mayrhofer, in the March 2010 issue. Article summary: Finding that perfectly shaped stone has always been a challenge when harvesting oceanic and river basalt, the type of stone from which most massage stones have—until now—been created. But carving from quarried land basalt results in massage stones of precise shapes that can reach all the nooks and crannies of the human body.

by Leslie Bruder

Three-dimensional hot stone massage takes an already superb art to an entirely new level. This form of hot stone massage is a dance of fluidity and reverence, where stones seem to appear out of midair and the client is effortlessly moved in space, undulated like seaweed in water. Stones cradle and embrace the body from both sides at once.

Working three-dimensionally enables the therapist to take advantage of the force of gravity and the weight of the client’s body to create pressure against the stone. When the weight of the body is allowed to drape over the stone, the muscle softens and opens much more easily than when the stone is pushed in from above.

Because a three-dimensional hot stone massage lifts the body in space and works both sides at once, it does not require the client to sit up or roll to one side for the therapist to remove stones from underneath the body. As the graceful elegant movements occur, the stones are flawlessly removed without interruption.

In addition to the fluid dance-like nature of this massage, a novel stone-management system is employed, enabling the therapist to stay with the client 10 times longer than a normal stone-retrieval system would allow. This affords a seamless flow of stone use with virtually invisible stone entrance.

Underlying three-dimensional hot stone massage are many principles that add to its exquisite nature. Revisiting body parts; entering the muscle in its shortened position; overlapping strokes; using momentum; paying attention to the way in which the stone makes contact with the body; matching speed and depth with the client’s inner limits; listening deeply; and holding a reverent and sacred space for the heart to feel safe are all part of the three-dimensional aspect of this work.

“It felt as if I was being massaged by the very wave that softened and smoothed the stones being used against my skin. There is nothing flat about this massage … it feels as if the stones are massaging you everywhere at once. It is truly a dance unsurpassed by the very limits of ordinary hot stone massage,” said Ric Breese of Boulder, Colorado.

Leslie Bruder is the founder of both Three-Dimensional Hot Stone Massage and Phenomenal Touch Massage ( She is the founder and director of the Institute for Phenomenal Touch Massage, located in Boulder, Colorado. She is the author of many articles in MASSAGE Magazine as well as the recently published book, Hot Stone Massage: A Three-dimensional Approach, published by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.