Hot Stone Massage: What Can Go Wrong?

Hot stone massage is a restorative procedure that involves smooth heated stones, to carry out the standards of thermo-therapy (heat treatment).

The heated stones, usually basalt stones, are placed at vital points on the body to ease stimulation of the tissues and calm the tired muscles.


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This non-invasive heat therapy has no clinically observed side effects, however, people with specific medical conditions are advised against the massage. Additionally, the involvement of heat in the procedure may cause some discomfort or side effects.


The stimulation applied in the hot stone massage to promote circulation and flow of lymph may cause loss of water in the body. The heat and the pressure induce sweating, which may result in dizziness and temporary loss of consciousness. It is recommended to drink fluids before and after the massage. Furthermore, the massage therapist must be informed of physical discomfort, if any, in order to avoid complications. When your massage is complete, be sure to stand up slowly, and avoid sudden or quick movements.

Effects of medication

Some medications such as thyroid hormones and amphetamines may cause unfavourable reactions after the massage. These medications make you intolerant to heat. Hence, when heat is applied, there may be an increase in the heart rate and in blood pressure. The complete medical history and the list of medication should be shared with the therapist before the massage session.

Burning sensation

The massage stone may be heated too long sometimes, which may not be suitable for some types of skin. The extra heat may result in burns or injuries. Although, massage therapists are well informed to adjust the temperature of the stone, it is essential to tell the therapist, if any burning sensation or irritation is felt on the skin.

Other side effects

Some other side effects or discomforts that may be felt after a hot stone massage include:

  • Nausea or headache
  • Fatigue or tiredness due to the elimination of toxins
  • Frequent toilet visits to remove waste and impurities
  • Flared medical conditions
  • Skin spots as a result of dispensed toxins
  • Runny nose
  • Perspiration

How to avoid the side effects?

A few precautions may minimise the chances of any possible side effects and discomfort.

  • Consume plenty of fluids before the massage session.
  • Reduce or skip smoking and alcohol.
  • Relax before and after the therapy.
  • Avoid sunbathing or sun beds for 24 to 48 hours after the treatment.
  • Avoid heavy eating after the massage.
  • Avoid coffee, tea, and other stimulating beverages after the therapy.
  • Discuss the medical condition, if any, with the massage therapist before the massage session.
  • In case of any serious medical condition, consult the physician or a medical specialist before the heat massage.

Who should be extra careful?

  • People who have pre-existing heart conditions, Raynaud’s disease, varicose veins, pitted edema, and peripheral vascular problems
  • Diabetics: Diabetes often causes nerve damage, which reduces your ability to sense temperatures
  • People who suffer from Epstein Barr, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, or any illness that compromises the immune system
  • People who are recovering from a serious illness or are generally weak and unhealthy
  • People who have open wounds, cuts, sores, or inflammation; albeit if the wound is in a place where heat will not be applied, a hot stone massage may be okay.
  • People who have recently had surgery or have finished or are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy
  • People who have suffered an acute or severe infection in the recent past
  • Pregnant women who are in their first trimester should completely avoid a hot stone massage. Thereafter, a massage may be performed but only by a qualified and trained therapist and only after consultation with your doctor.
Hot Stone Massage: What Can Go Wrong?
Hot Stone Massage: What Can Go Wrong?
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