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Bamboo massage is a technique that incorporates bamboo stalks of varying lengths and diameters to provide deep-tissue work. Some practitioners combine elements of Shiatsu, traditional Chinese medicine, Thai massage, lymphatic drainage, and sometimes the stalks are even heated and/or essential oils are incorporated into the massage. The massage itself promotes circulation, sensory nerve perception, and lympathic drainage and provides a deep sense of relaxation and well-being.
Stimulation of the tissue by the bamboo sticks is believed to relieve the "sluggish state" by dissipating the heat that results from an accumulation of toxins and poor circulation. Some recipients of bamboo massage have described these releases as a whole-body tingling.
Part of what makes bamboo hard and straight, yet flexible and light, is that its outer cell walls are covered with silica. This creates a crystalline-like matrix, much like that of a quartz crystal or our own connective tissue. Some practitioners believe that releasing tension or fascial adhesions held within this matrix can help restore and rebalance the body's electromagnetic field. Crystalline-like matrices are known to exhibit two very specific properties: Piezoelectricity and Pyroelectricity. Piezoelectricity is activated with pressure and Pyroelectricity with heat. On a physiological level, these two properties are believed to contribute to some of the healing effects seen in bamboo massage.
Piezoelectricity is the ability of some materials to generate an electric potential in response to applied mechancial stress or pressure across the crystal lattice. The word itself is derived from the Greek piezein, which means to squeeze or press. In the case of massage, pressure along the fascia, which is also a crystalline-like matrix of tissue, would generate this same effect.
Pyroelectricity is the ability of certain materials to generate an electrical potential when heated or cooled. The name is derived from the Greek work pyr, meaning fire. As a result of a change in temperature, positive and negative charges move to opposite ends or poles of the material, thereby establishing an electrical potential. Very small changes in temperature can, in fact, produce an electrical potential due to a material's pyroelectricity. Thus, heating a bamboo stick and applying pressure with it could create this effect. This pyroelectric effect is also present in both bone and tendon. These two properties could, therefore, be easily stimulated as pressure is applied using the bamboo sticks to penetrate deep into the tissues.
Bamboo Structure, Benefits and History
Long before paper was invented, the Chinese recorded their history on thin slivers of bamboo. In fact, the material was used in a multitude of ways. Since bamboo was incorporated into so much of daily life, it wasn't long before it was used as a form of creative and spiritual expression, which quickly took on a ritual and healing connotations.
Chinese, Indonesian, and Japanese festivals, rituals, and myths aboud with bamboo symbolizing life energy, prosperity, longevity, and fertility. In China, stalks of bamboo still symbolize eternal youth, strength, properity, and peace. What may seem like a new technique, bamboo massage, has ancient roots and perhaps deeper associations than simply bodywork.
Although bamboo matures fully in approximately seven years, most bamboo flowers only once in 60 to 120 years, with large heads much like those of sugarcane. After blooming, all the bamboo plants of the same species die, which occures worldwide at the same time. Overall, there are more than 1,200 species of bamboo, all of them related to the sugarcane and corn. Bamboo is, in fact, a giant grass: the bamboo stalk can be cut, leaving the root system intact for rapid regrowth. This makes bamboo a highly renewable resource. In a favorable habitat, it can grow as fast as one foot in 24 hours and will grow back to full-size in a few years.
One of the first people to develop a bamboo massage technique specifically for North American clients was Nathalie Cecilia, a certifited Thai massage therapist currently living in Sarasota, Florida. Cecilia, originally from France, came to the United States five years ago. She discovered this approach when one of her clients kelp asking for deeper pressure. Cecilia began developing ways to integrate bamboo sticks into her practice, eventually using sticks of varying lengths and compositions, creating what she now calls Bamboo-Fusion massage.
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