Bamboo has always been able to lend a helping hand with clothing our bodies, furnishing our homes, and even filling our stomachs. Yet, who knew it could also help release our tension and ease our aching muscles?

Bamboo and massage

Bamboo massage is a technique that utilizes pieces of bamboo of varying lengths and diameters in deep tissue body work. 

Some practitioners incorporate elements of shiatsu, Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine. Bamboo has also been used to help drain the lymphatic system in some Thai disciplines. Some choose to heat the sticks and apply essential oils during the session. Bamboo helps to improve circulation as well as reduce the strain on the hands of the therapist. Unlike stone massage, bamboo is easy to clean and does not need a crock pot of water or additional equipment to maintain.

Properties of bamboo

Being strong, flexible, and sustainable, the grass is an excellent tool for massage. There are those who believe that the silica surrounding the cell walls of the plant also help to restore the body’s electromagnetic balance, similar to the effect of quartz crystals on connective tissue. The electric potential created by the mechanical application of the bamboo to muscles may help restore the health of abnormal fibers and bone.

Heating the sticks also produces an electrical charge, allowing ions to polarize the material, further amplifying its healing potential. The pressure provided by the pieces of bamboo and hands of the therapist help to release toxins, relieve excess heat surrounding areas of the body, and improve poor circulation of blood and fluids. Acupressure techniques are often used in conjunction with the massage.

Buddha and Bamboo for good luck

Ancient traditions and New Age practice

One of the first to fuse bamboo and massage in the United States was Nathalie Cecilia, a French Thai massage therapist living in Florida. She began using bamboo after a larger male client requested more pressure for shoulder work. Having previously used a long bamboo pole to help with her balance for Thai massage, she decided to use the tool for his sessions. 

After a positive response, she began to develop what is now known as Bamboo-Fusion massage, an entire massage routine that uses bamboo and rattan pieces of different sizes. She describes the treatment as exotic and luxurious. The series is now approved by the NCBTMB and has been taught to many practitioners across the country and overseas.

“While doing traditional massage, I experienced pain in my thumbs and wrists after only two months of opening my business,” Cecilia says in a statement to Massage Therapy. “The Bamboo-Fusion technique allows you to easily adjust the pressure, making deep-tissue work easy. I can effectively palpate using the bamboo and am able to easily locate muscle tension and treat trigger points. Using bamboo is now like a continuation of my fingers. There is also a beautiful quality to the material; it has a luxurious feeling and both you and the clients feel very energized and revitalized, but also relaxed. Aesthetically, I’ve also noticed that the skin actually becomes more supple.”

We would love to hear from those who have had a bamboo massage. What was your experience like? How does it compare to traditional deep tissue work? Who are your favorite practitioners?

Alternative therapies

Traditional healers, especially in the Far East, have long been aware of bamboo’s nutraceutical properties. Bamboo leaves, high in silica, make a delicious, therapeutic tea. Fresh bamboo shoots, common in Asian cuisine, are also packed with vitamins and minerals. And Chinese medicine makes use of all these beneficial properties.

In the age of COVID, the interest in alternative treatments is greater than ever. And nothing has made me more skeptical than the strict alignment of so-called medical opinions with political ideologies. But in India, they are turning bamboo groves into “oxygen parks”, where convalescing COVID patients can stroll through the grass and luxuriate in the highly oxygenated atmosphere.

We’ve long known about how relaxing it feels to walk through a forest of bamboo, listening to the soft rustle of leaves and the gentle knocking of canes. Spiritual followers have even ascribed esoteric properties to this magical plant. But now, scientists like Dr. Barathi of India are measuring the air quality and finding significant differences in areas packed with bamboo.

So it’s not just a lot of hippie-dippy baloney; bamboo really does have the power to heal, not only the planet but also our bodies and spirits.

Go deeper with bamboo

If the thought of bamboo massage helps to ease some of your inner tension, feel free to share this story with your friends. You’ll also enjoy these other articles about bamboo and natural healing.