For a type of massage therapy that uses the calming properties of warmth to loosen tight muscles and improve the flow of energy in the body, many massage practitioners seek out stone therapy training.
This technique uses warmed flat stones and sometimes also cool stones; these are placed on the body to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and relax the muscles, which helps make the massage more effective. Some therapists also use hot stone therapy as a part of energy healing.
Stone therapy training is useful not just to massage therapists, but also for physical therapists, reflexologists, estheticians, and many other types of bodywork practitioners and spa workers. During a typical stone therapy massage session, the therapist first sanitizes and heats the stones. Techniques used during hot stone therapy include massaging or stroking the body with a heated stone, or leaving heated stones at key points on the body such as the spine, the palms of the hands, and between the toes. Cold stones may be used on areas of inflammation or muscle injury. Sometimes, the practitioner may also administer a more traditional massage, such as Swedish massage.
Training and Education
What You'll Study in Hot Stone Therapy School
At hot stone therapy school, you'll learn about the history and theory behind stone therapy; proper techniques of stone therapy massage, including body mechanics; how to clean and maintain the stones; and how to incorporate stone therapy training into your practice as a massage therapist or other practitioner.
Average Length of Study
Basic training in hot stone therapy massage usually takes place during a one- or two-day workshop—about 18 hours of continuing education. More advanced or master-level training may take up to 100 hours or more.
Most individual courses or workshops that provide stone therapy training cost between $300 and $500 per course. Some beginning courses include a basic set of stones. However, most stone therapy massage professionals also need to purchase a stone heater and other accessories, which may cost up to $400 in all.
Hot Stone Therapy Certification
Stone therapy massage is usually practiced by licensed massage therapists as a specialty technique. Massage therapist licensing is regulated in most states and may require a minimum number of training hours; be sure to check the laws in the state where you plan to practice. Certification by an industry group such as the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) can demonstrate that you have attained professional-level training. Specific certifications in hot stone therapy are also available, showing that you have completed stone therapy training.
Job prospects are very good for massage therapists and other practitioners with stone therapy training. Many jobs are available in full-service salons, spas, physical therapy clinics, and other settings that offer a wide variety of bodywork treatments.
Is a Hot Stone Therapy Career Right for You?
Hot stone therapy training can enhance the practice of massage therapists and bodyworkers as well as personal care workers such as nail technicians. Stone therapy massage is a popular option at spas, resorts, wellness centers, and traditional massage therapy clinics, so if you plan to work in this type of setting, you may benefit from attending hot stone therapy school.
Sources: LaStone Therapy, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, T.I.R. Massage Stone