There are a number of massage therapy techniques that utilize stones to help rejuvenate the body and mind. Of them, one of the most unique is chilled rock therapy. The therapy has been used for years in conjunction with hot stone therapy providing a unique type of massage experience. Recently however, it has been used on its own with a great deal of success for certain situations.
The science behind a chilled rock massage is that it is a vasoconstrictor. What this means is that the process of applying chilled rocks to specific spots on the body constricts blood flow to that spot, which can reduce swelling and in that manner promotes healing. Add to that the gentle weight of the rocks and their ability to stay cold for quite a while and it creates a relaxing and therapeutic situation that allows your body to heal quicker.
The process can help gently press toxins out of muscle tissue as well, initiating a detoxification of your body. The stones also can be used to help make the lymphatic system work more effectively. The muscles around the lymphatic system tighten due to the vasoconstriction, which helps pump the lymphatic system and get things moving so they are processed and purged from the body.
A chilled rock massage can be used in conjunction with a number of other massage therapy techniques. Deep tissue, Swedish and even Tai massage therapists can use chilled rocks to supplement their normal massages, either before the normal massage begins, during or after the normal massage is over.
For example, a deep tissue may choose to use chilled rocks after a session if the client indicates they have a lot of pain and are concerned that they will have different pain from the massage therapy itself. This is a common complaint for some therapies; the client feels better but is sore from the massage. By adding chilled rocks to the massage at the end, the therapist can help eliminate some of that pain by immediately working on chilling the area and reducing any potential swelling that could occur.
Another use of chilled rocks is as a trigger point therapy. Instead of using an instrument or an elbow to initiate a trigger point on a client, the persistent gentle pressure of a chilled stone can have the same relief effect that normal trigger point therapy initiates without the pain that can be associated with it.
The rocks themselves are not just rocks you would pick up off the ground; unless you are in a marble quarry. The best chilled rocks are made of marble and are carefully chosen then hand manipulated so they are the correct weight and are completely smooth. Marble has excellent heat and cold retention characteristics which is why it is the preferred choice for most users of chilled rocks. It also releases heat or cold at a very uniform rate. This means that it stays closer to its original temperature better than some other rocks that are used for these types of treatments.