Hot stone massage: Dealing with the painful effects of stress.

Feeling stressed, tired, achy?  Do you suffer from back pain or chronic pain associated with conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis or soreness associated with increased activity? These are all situations when massage therapy may be of benefit to you.  Evidence has been found that massage therapy, compared to no therapy at all is a good option for the management of pain.  Pain can have a psychological and physical element.  Massage therapy can have a beneficial effect on both these components and help patients manage their pain and discomfort.

First, let’s talk about stress, and how it can manifest in psychological and physical components of pain.  When someone is stressed, the first experience is excitation of the sympathetic nervous system. This is the system responsible for that “fight or flight” feeling. We know that this can make someone feel anxious, on edge and uncomfortable. Now if you are in pain and this system is stimulated, it may increase your perception of pain.  Secondly, when stressed, there is a non-specific series of events that happens in the body, which includes an increase of a chemical called cortisol. This chemical, along with other neurotransmitters are carried in the blood stream and have been shown to have adverse effects on pain management.

Now let’s talk about that pesky muscle soreness.  Ever wonder where that comes from?  Notice it after you had to trim the hedges last weekend, shovel the snow, did a great new workout or ran a 5 km race?  Without getting too technical, after an increase in activity, there is something known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) that sets in within 24 – 48 hours after said increase. It’s normal and happens to everyone as the body adjusts to the more strenuous activity level.  Muscle spasms are something different, and they are often a result of the body protecting itself from injury. Often a muscle spasm occurs when the surrounding structures are damaged and the body goes into guard mode. Almost like when you bump your elbow and are quick to grab it with your other hand.

So why are we talking about all this ?!?! You’re probably thinking … I thought this post was going to tell me why hot stone massage is good for me?!?! Well, you see, heat and massage used in conjunction has been shown to help with all of the mentioned components of pain and discomfort.  Firstly, let’s talk about the physical effects heat can have on our tissues. A slow increase in the temperature of the tissues, that elicited by the placement of the hot stones, increases blood flow in the area. This helps with the removal of any lactic, uric or other waste products that have built up in the tissues.  This is said to produce an analgesic (pain relieving) effect. These physical relaxation effects along with the positive mental/emotional effects of massage therapy make hot stone massage a good option for treating chronic pain. Heat therapy, combined with the benefits of a massage performed by a skilled registered massage therapist (RMT), has been shown to reduce the levels of circulating cortisol (stress hormone) in the blood.  This helps with a deeper relaxation throughout your treatment session.  Hot stone massage is a favourable alternative treatment that can be used in adjunct with other therapies to minimize your pain and discomfort.  

A hot stone massage appointment promotes this deeper muscle relaxation, through the placement of water heated river rocks on the treatment area. The therapist will adjust the placement of the rocks throughout the session as they work on the tension in your muscles through skilled tissue release.

Please contact our office at (905) 726 – 2252 or by email at  if you have any questions about this awesome new service we are offering.

And remember to live balanced, live well and be you at your PRIME ! 

Amanda Homen
Resident Physiotherapist