By Taryn Gauley, RMT

This is a question frequently asked in the clinic. We see the advertisements for this type of treatment but are never really sure what it consists of or what it helps with. It is offered at massage therapy clinics and spas predominately, sometimes by an RMT and sometimes not depending on where you go.

At its most basic level, Hot Stone Massage is exactly how it sounds: Basalt stones heated to a certain temperature and then used to massage muscles. The relaxing form of HSM is usually a full body massage from head to toes covering back, neck, shoulder, arms, hands, legs and feet in both the face down and face up positions. The heat is soothing and can be even more relaxing to some than traditional massage. This type of HSM would be available from any location offering the service.

On a deeper level, HSM can be used more therapeutically by a RMT with different effects. HSM can be used on areas where muscles are overly sensitive to pressure, where traditional techniques would be painful to the client. In this case, the warmth of the stone is transferred to the muscles encouraging them to relax without the need for deep or even moderate pressure that would be used in traditional massage. The heat provided encourages all types of tissue to soften when used in either stationary or flowing patterns which can lead to an increased ability to stretch and increased mobility, particularly for areas with scar tissue. It can also be used to encourage the healing process to activate in a specific location from a solitary stone or to loosen a joint complex when a few stones are placed in close proximity on targeted muscles for chronic issues, fascial restrictions, or decreased mobility. This type of HSM is not provided by non-RMTs at all and only by some RMTs. Ask your location of choice how their HSM therapists work to make sure you get the type of treatment you are looking for.

As with all massage therapy, there are some conditions that are not good candidates for HSM and should not receive HSM. These include uncontrolled or very high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, advanced kidney or liver failure, acute pneumonia, those with a high fever or a contagious or infectious condition or any acute condition requiring medical attention. There are other indications that HSM should not be provided to a certain area which should be discussed with your therapist prior to your session. Also be aware that providers use an oil or a mixture of oil and lotion to provide enough glide with the stones, so ask beforehand if allergies are a concern. Many therapists will have a non-allergenic oil or an option of different oils to accommodate sensitivities and provide the best massage possible.

For any further questions or desire to book a session, contact Taryn at Kneaded Touch Massage Therapy Barrhaven 613-825-2225 or Merivale 612-226-1900 or email at

Reference: Hot Stone Therapy by Hazel Millar and Roseann Pikelin