It’s quite natural for lizards and snakes to lie on hot rocks in the scorching sun, because they have to thermoregulate, but when middle-aged and elderly women in the Chinese city of Xi’an started doing it, people started raising their eyebrows in surprise.
It turns out lying on large stone boulders in the hot sun is this year’s summer health trend among the women of Xi’an. Elderly and middle-aged women can be seen hugging rocks or simply lying on them with towels on their faces all around the city, from parks to squares and pretty much wherever else large, sun-heated rocks can be found.
At first, people thought the women were engaging in some mysterious artistic performance, but local reporters approached them, they said it was a traditional medical treatment to help them cure various illnesses. One woman, identified only by her surname, Lo, said that she started lying on hot rocks to treat her synovitis and stiff muscles, after a relative suffering from similar ailments did it for an extended period of time and got cured. Apparently, the best time to practice laying on rocks is between 3 and 4 p.m., when the sun burns the hottest.
Women may sometimes be referred to as the weaker sex, when it comes to lying on burning hot rocks, they seem to be a lot more resilient than men. The Shaanxi Daily reports that men sometimes give the strange “medical treatment” a try as well, but they find the rocks too hot to bear. One woman told the paper that while she and her mother find the practice comfortable, her husband can’t even touch the scorching rocks.
Despite the curious popularity of lying on sun-heated rocks in Xi’an, doctors warn against the risks of the bizarre practice. They claim exposing the body to extreme heat can result in a series of serious health problems, from burns and boils to heat strokes. They also explain that the treatment is unlikely to have any health benefits on practitioners.
The doctors’ warnings appear to be well-founded, as one woman in her 70’s told the Shaanxi Daily that all she got out of lying on hot rocks was a painful boil on her abdomen.
The recent bad publicity the strange health practice has received in the media lately doesn’t seen to have had an effect on practitioners, though, as they can still be seen hogging rocks all around Xi’an city.
But lying on them isn’t the only bizarre way people are using rocks to improve their health. Just a few days ago we wrote about a man who has managed to drop over 30 kilograms of excess weight after walking with a 40-kilogram rock on his head for the last few years.