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I purchased these heat therapy stones a couple of years ago when I had a slightly naïve idea of creating my own home spa. Stone therapy originated approximately 5000 years ago in India where heated stones were used for therapeutic massage. The idea is that by placing heated stones at strategic points of the body, they can not only provide a sensual treat but also aid relaxation, ease muscle tension and assist with such conditions as back pain, fibromyalgia, stress, insomnia and depression.
This set consists of nine smooth black stones which come in a small, draw-string pouch. The stones vary in size and thickness, some being thinner and flatter than others. The three largest stones have the words 'body', 'soul' and 'relax' printed on them in gold lettering, which looks quite attractive against the black. The six smaller stones look less appealing, however, and have a few scratches and cracks, which is a bit off-putting.
The stones come with a leaflet on how to use them. On the front of the leaflet there is a photograph of a woman lying face down on a bed that looks like it has been strewn with rose petals. She is surrounded by candles and the rocks are positioned up the length of her spine. This was the Zen-like state I was hoping for. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.
My Experience with the Hot Rocks
The first problem is that these rocks are a bit of a palaver to prepare. How much simpler it would be if you could just put them in the microwave but there is a firm warning in the instructions that you must under no circumstances do that. Instead you have to fill a pan of water, add the stones, bring the water to the boil, remove the pan from the stove, pour off the water and put the rocks on a towel. You then dry them, wait until they are a safe temperature (i.e. warm as opposed to boiling hot) and then place them on your body. When it comes to applying the rocks to your body, you are likely to need another person on hand to help you with most of the recommended positions. I was particularly keen to try the spine positioning, as demonstrated by the serene woman on the front of the booklet. There would be absolutely no way I could have placed the rocks on my own back. I did try but in the end had to ask my husband to come and help me. I told him to position the rocks at regular intervals up the length of my spine, the idea being that this would apparently aid energy flow through my entire body and make me feel rather pleasant. I'm sure it would have been very pleasant indeed if the rocks hadn't kept falling off. I don't know if I just fidget too much, or if my husband was just being a bit clumsy, or maybe the rocks weren't flat enough to balance properly. I tried to stay still but even normal breathing was enough to unbalance a rock and make it fall off. Although my husband did keep repositioning the falling rocks, they quickly lost their heat with all the faffing around and as I tried so hard to stay still so that the rocks stayed put, it somewhat defeated the purpose of a relaxation exercise when you want to take long, slow deep breaths rather than hold your breath and keep rigidly still. So the attempts on my spine were pretty disappointing. On another occasion we did apply the rocks to my shoulder and the base of my neck area, where I do suffer from a bit of posture-related stiffness, and this was a bit more successful, but I had the same problem with the rocks falling off and having to be repositioned, which certainly interrupts the relaxation process somewhat.
The leaflet suggests that the smaller rocks can be positioned between the toes. I tried this but didn't find it a pleasant sensation at all - quite painful in fact. You can also place them up the length of one arm, positioning one of the larger stones in your palm. I haven't tried this but I imagine it might be worth a go after one of my marathon typing sprees when my fingers and arms are aching.
I have to admit that, although the warm sensation is enjoyable, it doesn't last very long. Frankly, if I want a relaxing, therapeutic massage I would much rather feel warm hands upon me than warm rocks. In the instruction booklet it does suggest that the stones can be combined with conventional massage if warm oils are first applied to the body and then the stones are moved around, with the massseuse applying light pressure. I still think I'd prefer hands alone.
I have found these rocks handy now and again when I have had tummy ache and have found them soothing to place over my lower abdomen when I've had period pain or cystitis. In my opinion though it's a lot less trouble just to fill a hot water bottle or put a wheat pack into the microwave (or indeed to swallow some paracetamol) When you're feeling unwell the last thing you want to be doing is boiling stones in a pan.
Sadly, I had to give up on the idea of turning my home into a spa. These days I keep the rocks in the fridge instead where they come in handy if anyone needs to treat a bruise. The variety of different sizes is useful for treating different areas of the body. I have had more use out of them as a cold treatment than a hot one. They do soothe inflammation. In the instruction booklet it suggests alternating hot and cold stones to stimulate the circulation, but this is not something I have been tempted to try.
I am not too impressed with these Hot Rocks. An added irritation for me is that the velour pouch they come in is a real dust trap. After mine had been sitting in the bathroom for a few weeks it was absolutely covered in fluff. (Although, to be fair, that might be more a reflection on my bathroom than the product.) The three stones with the words written on in gold are quite pretty and I'm almost tempted to just use them as ornaments, as they would look nice amongst my bowl of healing crystals.
At £5.93 from Amazon they make a cute gift but aren't really that practical, in my experience. They are also a bit dangerous as you can burn yourself quite badly with them if you aren't really careful to let them reach a safe temperature. There are simpler ways to ease pain, tension and aid relaxation.