How To Identify when Hot Stone Massage is Contraindicated

Many people find hot stone massage a better form of massage than the regular kind.  Both hot stone and regular massage methods are effective in giving you relaxation, but some people respond better to hot stone massage.  The other side of the story is that hot stone massage is also dangerous to some people, especially those who have certain health conditions.  Particularly, hot stone massage is contraindicated in people who are very sensitive to temperature increase, as well as those who have overly sensitive skin.

In this article, you will learn some tips on how to identify when hot stone massage is contraindicated so that you can advise your client not to undergo the procedure.

  • Ask for information from your clients.  You should have a standard form that asks for information that can give you an idea of their health condition.  The form should let your clients state their skin conditions (especially allergies and existing skin problems), cardiovascular problems (e.g., hypertension), or disorders of the nervous system.  If the client has medical conditions, the form should also require the client to state whether she or he is taking medication for those conditions and what those medicines or treatments are.
  • If your client is pregnant, do not proceed with the hot stone massage.  The increase in temperature caused by the hot stones can cause stress on the body of the pregnant person, and consequently, can potentially cause fetal distress.
  • Clients with diabetes or varicose veins should not be allowed to have a hot stone massage.
  • If your client has numbness in some body areas (loss of sensation) or inflammation in certain areas, you can proceed with the massage but should avoid the numb or inflamed areas.
  • For hypertensive clients, you have to be very careful.  If the client is taking medication or is undergoing medical treatment for high blood pressure (i.e., if hypertension is under control), you can proceed with the hot stone massage.  Otherwise, never allow a client with untreated hypertension to undergo hot stone massage.  If the hypertensive client uses pain relievers or muscle relaxants, you can allow hot stone massage, but be extra cautious as the client may have lessened sensation and may have difficulty feeling when the stones get too hot.
  • If your client has a contagious skin disease, or has certain dermatological problems such as acne, or has wounds or sores, you can proceed with the hot stone massage, but avoid the areas.  You must also wear gloves to protect yourself from contracting the contagious disease.
  • Before beginning the massage, talk to your client and ask him/her to discuss other matters that the client may be concerned about.  Some clients don't want you to treat certain parts of the body, especially those that are painful or sensitive.  While performing the massage, always remind the client to let you know if the stones are making her or him uncomfortable.  Closely monitor the skin while massaging and be alert to gestures or nonverbal expressions of discomfort.

As a general tip, most of the conditions that contraindicate regular hand massage are also conditions that contraindicate hot stone massage.  It is important that you are familiar with the contraindicating conditions so that you and your patient can have a safe massage session.


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