I am a massage therapist who specializes in Geo Thermal Therapy. Geo means Earth/Stone (think ‘geology’) and thermal means temperature (think ‘thermometer’). Geo Thermal therapy is essentially treatment of the body with stones and temperatures. I love offering this type of therapy to my clients, and I really feel that working with stones offers many profound benefits to the therapist, as well.
I went through massage school in 2003. After graduation, I started doing massage on a part time basis. Despite my best efforts and attention to the things that I was taught in school about proper body mechanics, stretching and maintenance of my body, my forearms and wrists hurt on an increasingly regular basis. This became especially true as my practice transitioned into an emphasis on doing more deep tissue work in my practice.
A few years after beginning on my massage path, I was intrigued by stone massage (which at the time was the hot new craze in the industry) and I attended an Original Body workshop offered by LaStone Therapy. In Original Body, we learned about how temperatures affected the body and how we could use those temperatures in a treatment to bring greater healing and wellness.
Original Body had taught me the basics of working with stones in my sessions. I started using with them, but still felt somewhat unsure and hesitant. Working with stones does take practice, and I was just in the beginning stages of my stone walk.
It was at this time that I got an e-mail from LaStone Therapy about a Stone Medicine workshop happening near me. This was the call that I had been waiting for. I didn’t understand why, but my intuition told me that I had to be there.
Stone Medicine deepened my understanding of the spiritual nature of the stones and of the sacred ceremony that offering healing to another body is. It expanded my understanding of the effects of heat and cold on the body.
I started consistently using my stones with my clients, and I never went back. I use stones in every session now, and I can’t imagine doing massage any other way.
One of the reasons that I love using the stones so much in my work is because of the way that the client’s body reacts to them. The warm stones begin to soften the muscles and help to open the body up for healing. The cold stones make areas of the client’s body that are tight release like ice melting. Loosening the muscles makes my job as a massage therapist easier. Deep tissue work and digging is greatly decreased and the time which it takes to release stubborn knots is also decreased, allowing more time to get to other stubborn knots and make greater progress during sessions.
The loosening of the body is am outward symptom of the physiological changes that take place in the body and tissues during geothermal therapy sessions. The warm stones relax the body and increase circulation and the cold stones go to battle to fight inflammation and pain. The great thing about this is that it is a two way street. Because you are holding the stones in your hands as you work on the client, you overworked hands are receiving the physiological benefits of the contrasting temperatures as well as your client.
Because of the softening effect that the hot and cold stones have on my client’s muscles and the anti-inflammatory effect that they have on my own hands and wrists, I rarely have hand and wrist pain anymore (and if I do, I just take a few minutes to stretch and apply some cold stones and it generally goes away.) This helps to ensure that I will be able to do massage for as long as I enjoy doing it because it keeps me far away from the repetitive stress injuries that prematurely end the careers of many passage therapists.
I weave the stones into the session in a dance that feels so natural that many times, my clients cannot even tell that I have warm stones in my hands. A client asked me the other day how I made my hands so warm!
The stones provide so much more than just physical comfort for your client. Placing warm belly stones and hand stones and tucking stones around your client helps them to feel safe and anchored.
When someone comes in for a massage, they are in a vulnerable position. The stones help them to feel more secure and protected (and help to make the draping feel more secure, as well.) Warm stones placed on and around the body help your client to feel secure so that they can stay relaxed during the session, even when you are working a little deeper trying to relieve their tight spots.
Offering stones in all of my massage sessions also gives me an advantage in that I have created my own little niche in the over saturated market of massage therapists in my area. Clients come to me to get something that they can’t get anywhere else. There are a lot of therapist that offer stones, but they generally don’t come as a standard part of the session. Because of my training with Stone Medicine there are very few therapists in my are that offer the comprehensive style of stone massage that I do.
Many massage therapists offer hot stones, but the level of stone work that is taught by Stone Medicine is above and beyond what is taught in most basic hot stone massage courses. Many clients have told me that they have never received stone work like I do; that in the past, the therapist has maybe laid some stones on the body and maybe they used them a little bit on the clients body, but that the rest of the massage was done primarily with the therapists hands without stones.
Stone Medicine teaches the therapeutic use of heated and chilled stones for loosening muscles and healing the body, not just laying stones on the body while you work on the clients hypertonic muscles with your overstressed hands.
I love doing healing work, and cannot imagine doing it now without stones in my hands. The stones have given me the gift of being able to offer a deeper level of healing and wellness to my clients. They have taught me through learning Stone Medicine how to live my life as a walking ceremony, and that everything in life is sacred and connected. They have connected me with other geothermal therapists all over the world. Stone Massage has deeply changed my life and influenced the way that I think and the type of healing that I offer to my clients.
The stones have real healing power when used in Geothermal therapy applications. Because of the temperatures that geothermal therapists work at to bring true therapeutic benefits to their clients (more than just placing a few warm stones around the body) they also have the potential to hurt your client when they are used improperly. When stones are used improperly, at best, they will feel uncomfortable for your client and they will be unlikely to come back. At worst, they can cause serious burns and professional training is necessary before using stones on your clients.
Offering therapeutic temperatures to your clients with stones is a delicate dance between oil, temperature, pressure and speed. Each client and each part of the body is different in what temperatures are comfortable. Because of the therapeutic temperatures being applied in the session, there are contraindication that are unique to geothermal therapy and different from offering standard massage without stones. It is important to have a thorough understanding of all of this before offering this modality to your clients.
If you are interested in learning to incorporate stones into your massage and healing sessions in a way that goes deeper than just watching a video or taking a one day workshop, Stone Medicine courses are being taught world wide.
I am available to teach Stone Medicine geothermal therapy courses in any location. Please visit www.SacredStoneMedicine.com for upcoming courses or e-mail me at Shanna@creaturecomfortsbodywork.com for more information.