Bamboo and Other Strange Massages

If you've been getting massage for years, you might be ready to go beyond Swedish, deep tissue and hot stone.  Here are a few interesting massages you may not have tried -- and what to expect when you get them.

  • 01 of 03

    Bamboo Massage

    bamboo massage
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    If you ask massage therapists to go deeper… DEEPER….bamboo massage is a good choice.  A set of specially designed bamboo tools give the therapist the leverage to go as deep as you want, without resorting to elbows.  Surprisingly, bamboo holds heat even better than hot stones, which helps warm the muscles for deeper work.  

    Bamboo massage is good for athletes and heavily muscled people who have a hard time getting enough pressure from just hands and elbows. Larger bamboo sticks deliver long strokes, while smaller, solid rattan sticks pieces fit in the therapist’s palms for more detailed work.  The therapist takes a couple of sticks with padded heads for a refreshing round of playing you like a drum — a massage move known as known as percussion or tapotement — before turning you over for the other side.  

    If your thighs are tight and you want deep work on these big muscles, this is your treatment.  Bamboo is a great tool for stripping the muscles — a massage technique where deep pressure applied either quickly or slowly — to clear out adhesions, or adhered scar tissue. But bamboo doesn’t have to be a deep massage, it’s just easier for the therapist to go there with the tools if you request it.  It might even be the one time you say….”Please!  Lighten up!” 

  • 02 of 03

    Che Nei Tsang

    Che Nei Tsang or abdominal massage
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    Have you ever had a therapist ask, “Is it okay if I touch your stomach?”  That’s the whole point of a Chinese massage called Che Nei Tsang, which involves massaging your internal organs.  Ellen Ronis, a massage therapist for 30 years, is one of two therapists who offers the treatment at Bodhi Spa in Hudson, New York.  Che Nei Tsang means “working the energy of the internal organs.”  Ronin recommends it to people with intestinal/digestive issues, fertility issues, post-surgical scars and lower back pain.  

    Bodhi owner Melinda Macchiaroli tried Che Nei Tsang after giving birth to a pair of twins who arrived rather late, and were fairly big.  “I literally felt like my organs were all moved around,” says Macchiaroli .  “Ellen manipulated my organs and basically put everything back where it needed to be.”  

    The treatment is said to help loosen and clear physical and energetic blockages in the organs, where we store “undigested emotions,”  while it energizes, detoxifies and strengthens the internal system.  You don’t have to have a major issue, however.  “Sometimes it just feels good to have your organs untangled and unknotted and to breath deeply,” says Ronis.  “This treatment can be very relaxing.”  

  • 03 of 03

    Myofascial Release Therapy

    Myofascial Release Therapy
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    Have you ever found your muscles tightening back up soon after a massage?  The problem might be restricted fascia — the collagen-based web of connective tissue that interpenetrates and surrounds our bodily structures, including muscle tissue.  “When healthy, fascia is fluid and muscles slide past each other easily,” says massage therapist Tony Schelin.  “With time, injury and stress, the fascia gets tougher and starts to adhere.” 

    Enter Myofascial Release Therapy (MRT), a highly effective but not well known treatment popular with athletes and massage aficionados.  “It’s not their first massage,” says Schelin. He starts by warming up the body with traditional Swedish massage before turning to the slower, deeper techniques of MRT.   He will “touch” the whole body during the service, but the MRT technique — which involves holding the fascia until it starts to soften — will focus on the area of complaint, usually shoulders and back but sometimes hips, knees or ankles. 

    Because it takes time, Schelin recommends the 90-minute service. “It’s a deep technique that takes the fascia from a solid state and melts it into a liquid state," says Schelin.  “As a therapist, I can see the physical change.”  One client’s shoulders were hunched around her ears when the session began.  Ninety minutes later, her shoulders had dropped and her pain was gone.