In a hot stone massage, smooth basalt stones of different sizes are heated in a special warmer then placed in strategic positions on the body, especially the back, while the massage therapist works on other areas. The steady warmth of the stones works to gently ease tight muscles, allowing the massage therapist to work more deeply with less pressure. As the stones cool they are removed, and the therapist continues the massage in the areas prepared by the stones. Smaller stones are often used in place of the therapist’s thumbs or palms, increasing the effectiveness of the massage. The soothing warmth of the stones eases both body and mind, creating a tranquil state of complete relaxation. The benefits of hot stone extend beyond mere relaxation. Massage has been shown to both lower blood pressure and boost the immune system, and hot stone massage in particular increases circulation. The warmth of the stones dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the areas where the stones have been placed, which makes it a positive benefit for many issues from post-workout soreness to poor circulation.