Tried gua sha and brushed up on body combing? Next on your wellness checklist should be bamboo tapping, another traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) self-care ritual having a revival.
That’s according to TCM practitioner Katie Brindle, author of Yang Sheng and founder of the Hayo’u Method, who says: “Tapping with bamboo is an ancient Chinese therapy called Pai Sha. Forms of tapping such as EFT have become extremely popular over the last few years – and these have their roots in this Chinese technique”.
Tapping along the body’s meridian energy points, or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) as it is known, is a technique author and life coach Jody Shields to treat stress and anxiety in her book, Self-Care for the Soul, though she uses her fingertips.
Bamboo tapping involves using a tightly bound bundle of thin rods of bamboo, that resembles the end of a narrow old-fashioned broom, to tap ares of the body. Brindle says bamboo has historically been used for its flexibility, and in Chinese medicine it is considered cooling and calming. So convinced of the benefits of body tapping is Brindle that she just launched her own bamboo tapper (£28), though other models are also available to purchase here.
What are the benefits?
Don Mei, of London-based Chinese medicine clinic Acumedic, explains, “bamboo tapping is similar to gua sha and cupping, which are used to intentionally cause surface capillaries of certain areas of pain to break in order to stimulate a healing response.”
The technique can help to boost blood circulation, he says, as, according to Chinese medicine “a lot of musculoskeletal pain can be attributed to blood stasis usually due to injury and posture.” It’s also thought to help release dampness or “phlegminess” from the area being tapped. In TCM “damp” is associated with feeling bloated, puffy and sluggish.
Brindle adds that it’ll also get your “qi” or “chi” (translated as live force or energy) flowing again – and good circulation of both is vital to health in Chinese medicine. “This can be disrupted or stagnant for any number of reasons; a sedentary lifestyle, stress, emotional upset or injuries.
“Tapping the skin on a daily basis enables the free flow of this all important circulation. In as little as one-minute a day, an all over body tap can clear areas of stagnation, support lymphatic drainage, release tension and encourage a smooth flow of blood and qi around the body,” she says.
“It’s a great antidote to feeling tired or sluggish. You can do it briskly and firmly in the morning to invigorate and enliven the skin or you can perform it gently and slowly to release tension and unwind at the end of the day.”
Brindle recommends spending between one and five minutes each day tapping.
The abdomen, where we have many lymph nodes, is a particularly good area to focus on as is the anterior elbow, which supports the heart and lungs, as well as the armpit to support the liver and the hip joints space, which connects with the spleen.
Here, Brindle shares her body tapping instructions:
1. Rapidly and firmly tap down the insides then up the outsides of the arms. Then, pat down the outsides and up the insides of the legs and onto the feet, finishing on the soles of the feet
2. Tap in a circle around your abdomen, followed by your thymus (in between your breasts)
3. Tap gently on your soft joints: the insides of your elbows, armpits, the backs of your knees and the inside of your hip joints, to each side of your pubic bone
4. Drink water after tapping to aid toxin disposal