Acupuncture and acupressure have been used in China and India for thousands of years. But unlike these acupuncture, which involves inserting tiny needles at various ace-points on the body, acupressure helps relieve aches and pains noninvasively. It helps diffuse your energy, or “chi” through touch and pressure.
Acupressure mats are like the modern interpretation of these ancient practices, except they are at your perusal anytime, anywhere (you don’t need to make an appointment to have a session).
How Acupressure Mats Work
Acupressure mats work by acting on various nerve endings and acupressure points along the spine to help eliminate tension and stimulate the production of hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins. The release of these calming hormones allows us to feel relaxed, at peace and in a better mood.
Research on Acupressure Mats
While anecdotal evidence of the benefits of acupressure mats floods the web, is there any actual research that has been done on these mats? To my surprise, yes.
A small 2011 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people were able to “subjectively relax” once they got used to the initial pain of sitting on the mat. Researchers didn’t find much difference in the participants’ saliva cortisol levels (a marker of stress) after using the mats, but they did state that lying on the mat elicited a “parasympathetic response” (1) (aka. they were chilled out after using the mat).
Another study in 2016 published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine looked at whether or not using the acupressure mats for two weeks would help people with chronic back pain (2). Immediately after using the mat, participants reported that a little bit of pain went away immediately, but there weren’t any improvements in their back pain overall.
7 Benefits of Using an Acupressure Mat
Acupressure mats release endorphins and oxytocin into the blood stream, which naturally allows our body to relax and relieve pain in different areas of the body. If you use an acupressure mat regularly, and for a long enough period of time, it has the ability to provide the following health benefits:
– Natural Pain Relief (fibromyalgia, arthritis, back and shoulder pain, headaches, sciatica, etc.)
– Better sleep
– Increased blood flow/circulation
– Helps lower your blood pressure
– Stress Relief and Relaxation
– Improves Immunity
– Helps clear acid from the body (great for anyone with joint or gut issues)
My Own Experience with Acupressure Mats
I was recently given the opportunity to try out the acupressure mat by Artree. I loved that it came in a cute little backpack with storage on the inside for smaller items like books, a phone, or whatever else you might need while you take a little relaxation time on the mat.
Because I’ve never used an acupressure mat before, I considered myself a beginner, so I kept my skin covered with clothes. I also didn’t lay on it for too long (only 10-15 minutes). After using the mat for a week at beginner level, I definitely felt my shoulder pain get better, and found that I felt more relaxed after use.
I started using the mat for longer periods of time weeks after that, and began testing it on harder surfaces so that my skin would sink deeper into the acupressure points. The effects were definitely more noticeable and now I can’t go a couple days without using the mat. I use a computer for many hours most days, which often results in a very stiff back and shoulders. Using the mat did seem to help my body ease out of the stiffness and knots in my back and shoulders.
You can use the mat when you’re at your computer, reading a book, watching TV, or meditating.
Some things I learned while using the acupressure mat by Artree:
– If your skin is really sensitive, place a thin cloth on your mat. While this will reduce the efficacy of the therapy, it will help your skin get used to the “nails” so that eventually, you won’t need to use a cloth.
– Use the mat every day if you want positive results – if you can’t do it every day, do it every second day.
– Breathe deeply while laying on the mat. This will allow your body to relax into the points, instead of creating more pain by laying on the points with a stiff body.
– Don’t do any high-intensity activity immediately after a session. Try to rest for a few minutes to allow the energy to flow evenly over your body – drink some water and chill out for a little bit.
– Lie on the mat for 10-15 minutes continuously. Once your body gets used to this time period, increase the duration to 20-25 minutes. If this is comfortable, increase the time frame.
While I never imagined that lying on something that resembles a bed of nails would lead to better relaxation, less stress and lowered body pain – it does. If you’re looking for a little relaxation and need some pain relief, I definitely recommend braving it too!
Who Shouldn’t Use Acupressure Mats?
The following groups of people should avoid, or be careful when using acupressure mats:
– Children under 7
– Children over 7 unless supervised by an adult
– Pregnant women
– People with high or low blood pressure should first consult their doctor.
Disclaimer: All views and opinions are my own. This particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer. However, the manufacturer did give me the product for testing and review purposes.