Traditional Thai massage is a different experience if you’ve only ever had a Swedish or deep tissue massage. In Thai massage, you wear loose-fitting clothing (often provided by the massage therapist) and start by lying on a mat. Throughout the massage, the therapist moves your body into various seated and prone positions, which stretch and release your muscles and soft tissue. Although your body is moving, the therapist is doing all the work, making it feel similar to supported yoga. The massage therapist will bend, stretch, and compress and lengthen your body using their hands, forearms, elbows and even feet. Don’t be alarmed by the feet! Many studios have overhead supports that allow the practitioners to safely walk on your back, releasing tight adhesions and promoting ease. Thai massage can be both invigorating and relaxing. It is an excellent option for keeping your muscles in good health if you regularly work out, or if you want to overcome a lack of flexibility. Studies show that Thai massage can increase blood circulation, improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension and enhance mental well-being.
During a hot stone massage, the therapist heats as many as 50 basalt stones of varying sizes to 120–140 degrees fahrenheit, rubs them over your oiled body, and rests them on top of and beneath you. The therapist places the stones on your stomach, in your palms, and on your back. The stones’ warmth enhances the relaxing effects of the pressure. Some people believe the stones have healing, grounding qualities, which makes hot stone massage a more profound experience than your basic massage. The therapist will leave some of the smooth, heated massage stones in contact with your body and use others to massage you. Cold stones are sometimes incorporated, especially on the face, where they have a firming effect. Hot stone is a feel-good treatment found on most spa menus. Hot and cold stone temperatures have said to be like the ‘vascular gymnastics’ of the circulatory systems, the system that controls self-healing in the body. The heat of the stones has an immediately relaxing effect, and the therapist will glide them along your back and limbs. They should never be uncomfortably hot or nudge a shoulder blade or the spine. If they do, speak up. You may be asked to lie down on the hot stones, which looks potentially uncomfortable but isn’t as long as they’ve been carefully arranged to make contact with soft tissue. Read more about Hot Stone Massage in Spafinder's post, What is a Hot Stone Massage? To help you find the massage that fits your specific needs, read Spafinder's guide to Which Massage is Right For You?, or select one of the links on this page for a different massage type.
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