Hot stone massage vs. deep tissue massage

Massage & Relaxation

Tell your massage therapist where you have any painful areas on your body to avoid, where you would like them to focus and the level of pressure you prefer.

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Are hot-stone or deep-tissue massages best? 

Massages are on the top of lists related to self-care and wellness. When you are looking for a way to relax your mind and body, there is nothing better than a qualified person massaging you into tranquility. According to the Mayo Clinic, having someone loosen stress knots can increase relaxation, while decreasing pain and stress.

Sure, massages are known to be beneficial, but which kind of massage is best for you? Deep-tissue massages are meant to work out chronic issues in focused areas, whereas hot-stone massages relax tight muscles and help the body’s circulation.

Hot-stone massage

A hot-stone massage begins with smooth, circular stones being preheated in water prior to your arrival. After you are appropriately on your massage table, these stones are placed on either the front or backside of your body. The massage therapist will then provide a light massage to areas not being heated by the stones. 

Once the muscles in the body have absorbed the heat, the stones are removed and a light- to medium-level massage is provided to the warmed muscles. Once that side is complete, the delicate process of placing the hot stones over areas of the body is repeated on the other side. This is followed by yet another low- to medium-pressure massage that usually ends with the face and head. 

Hot-stone massage pros

The benefits of hot-stone massage are plentiful and noticed in real time. Hot stones serve to increase circulation throughout the body and to relax tense muscles. They encourage stress to melt away, while increasing your range of motion and overall physical health. Additionally, better sleep has been known to be a positive side-effect of hot-stone massage, because of the overall ease it provides the body.   

Hot-stone massage cons

Hot-stone massages are expensive, usually ranging from $80-$170, depending on the level of quality or city location. Furthermore, if you have a problem area or specific reason for getting a massage, it will not resolve the issue entirely. Hot-stone massages are meant for muscular maintenance, as opposed to repair. 

Best hot-stone massages

The best hot-stone massages will be performed by highly trained massage therapists who use quality hot stones in their practice. The facilities that support spectacular hot-stone massages are well kept and include an entire ambiance of calm including music, aromas and oils. 

Deep-tissue massage

Just like the name claims, this massage gets deep into your tissues to break up the fascia and knots that develop over periods of time. It begins with a lighter massage to warm the muscles and massage oil is sometimes used to make the experience more pleasant. 

Over the course of an entire massage, the therapist may identify several painful points on the body. As problem areas are noticed by the massage therapist, or indicated by the client, pressure is increased. It is important to remember to breathe in order to relax the muscles and allow the therapist to get the issue resolved.

Deep-tissue massage pros

massage gun

The benefits of deep-tissue massage are improved posture, increased mobility and decreased pain in joints. They can also decrease muscle pain and loosen tight, sore muscles. Moreover, if you don’t want to go to a massage therapist, you can perform your own deep-tissue massages at home with a proper massage gun

Deep-tissue massage cons

This massage is not for everyone, because it can be quite painful and exhausting. It is of a similar price range to hot-stone massages, about $60-$165, and typically requires multiple sessions over months or even years. 

Best deep-tissue massages

The best deep-tissue massages can depend on the massage therapist/client relationship. Deep-tissue massages require a lot of communication with the provider, so it is important to be aware of what injuries they should either focus on or avoid altogether. 

Should you get a hot-stone massage or a deep-tissue massage?

Deep tissue massages can be extremely beneficial to correct posture or chronic discomfort and pain issues. Proper massage of the tissue deep underneath the muscle can also be meditative, as it encourages focus on the body and allows the brain to rest.

However, hot-stone massages are healthy and beneficial to everyone. They are made for the average person who would like to relax and unwind from the week. Hot-stone massages are comfortable throughout the process and do not require any painful pressure to be applied in order to receive the benefits. 

No matter which massage you choose, be sure your skin is clear of any irritations before you arrive at your appointment. Deep-tissue and hot-stone massage therapists both discourage anyone with a skin issue or who may be pregnant from receiving them.


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Erica Redding writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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