Stress-relief bamboo – please stop selling me sticks and calling it a lifestyle

Thanks to touchscreens, we’re all tapping, all of the time. It’s literally my job. Tapping. You’ve probably just done it. Tap. Tap. Tap. An onomatopoeic word, gentle but insistent.

We’ve always tapped fingers out of boredom, relieving a build-up of stress hormones. We tap our feet to music. Around 2009, the phrase “tap that” was in common parlance, expressive of erogenous intent. “Did you see the new Speaker of the House of Commons? I’d totally tap that.” This week, we’re going back to an even earlier usage – the ancient Chinese energy practice of tapping, related to the theory of acupressure points. You see, I’ve been stimulating my meridians with the Body Tapper by Hayo’u (£28), a lightweight self-massage tool. Or, if you prefer, a bunch of barbecue skewers attached to a handle.

The idea is that lightly smacking yourself along the arms and abdomen relieves stress, boosts circulation and releases muscle tension. “Ancient wisdom for modern life,” is the Hayo’u motto, the ancient wisdom presumably being: “People will do anything to avoid the gym.” Bamboo dowels, just over a foot long, splay lightly outward from a bamboo handle. It’s rustic looking, yet appealing.

In use, it’s weirdly compelling: the smooth rods are loudly percussive, but not painful. The sensation is springy and diffuse. The temptation is to hit oneself harder than necessary because it sounds so satisfying and isn’t uncomfortable. Every morning, I whack my extremities, like a self-flagellating monk. I do feel more awake, which isn’t really a surprise – I can see how this would get the blood going. Not sure I feel any less stressed throughout the day, though.

Seeking alternative opinions, I get my tapper out at a social gathering to see if it’s of interest. In fairness, it is. After giving it a go, assessments are not good. My carpenter friend Charlie holds the product while regarding it with a distant pain. The design of the packaging – a golden starburst on a thick tube of white card – mimics expensive skincare or premium alcohol, he observes. In his large, craftsman’s hands, the tapper looks like nothing more than a bundle of kindling. “Is it about £30?” he asks. “Yup.” Charlie nods grimly to himself, as if his worst suspicions have been realised. Olga, an enthusiast of tai chi, chai tea and porridge made of borage, is more open to it. She even has experience of tapping from her martial arts classes. “You can just use your hand,” she chuckles.

She’s right. There are many online videos demonstrating how to tap your meridian points by hand, which, incidentally, have terrific names such as Liver 3 and Spleen 10. (While researching this, I discover there are whole different levels of tapping. EFT, or emotional freedom technique, is a new and bananas self-help method that involves tapping away limiting beliefs and negative emotion. It’s somewhat based on the Chinese method, but rather than having the benign aim of stimulating body energy, it bills itself as a treatment for serious trauma and auto-immune cases. I mention it so you can avoid it like the plague, while sparing a thought for my personalised YouTube feed.)

Back to the bamboo tapper. “Made in Asia,” reads the tube. I’m not looking for a postcode, but a country would be nice? My friends have a theory: that the company is avoiding the phrase “made in China” because of pejorative associations, even though its products are based on Chinese medicine. (Hayo’u’s company address is in Covent Garden.) This mismatch between simplicity of product and aspirational packaging sums up the wellness industry, and is why it rubs me the wrong way. (Rubs, taps, whatever.) Stop selling me a bunch of sticks and calling it a modern lifestyle. If you believe in meridian points, go all in and have a professional stick needles in them – or save the money and just use your hands.

If you need to boost circulation, see me

On the website, the product is listed as “limited availability” due to being “sustainably sourced”. I thought bamboo grew faster than head lice in a primary school? I’ve got some japanese knotweed they could have for free.

Wellness or hellness?

Bamboozling. 2/5


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