Acupressure mats came on to the self-massage tool scene a few years ago. But do acupressure mats work and are they a viable alternative to having professional treatment from a professional therapist? These are the questions I will book answering during this article.
What are acupressure mats?
Acupressure mats are tools in which the user applies acupuncture to their bodies. They use a mat covered in hard plastic discs with spikes sticking out. That’s the easy and short way of explaining what an acupressure mat is.
The idea for the acupressure mat came from the practice in Asia by Yogis and Gurus who used to lay on a bed of nails. They did this for healing and meditation purposes and swore by it’s effectiveness.
I think you will agree that laying on a bed of nails is less than comfortable. You’re more likely to see it as a feat of strength and will-power nowadays than a form of meditation.
The first acupressure mat is believed to have been created by a Russian music teacher who suffered with serious chronic pain. He had poor circulation and muscle spasms in his limbs, and was in a lot of pain daily.
He first found acupuncture to be a way of soothing the symptoms. But with treatment to expensive to have daily he needed an alternative. This is where his idea for a mat that performed acupuncture on himself was thought of.
He found that by placing a lot of pins into a rubber sheet allowed him to lay on the spikes and receive similar relief as he did from acupuncture. News travels fast when a new invention is so effective. It wasn’t long before acupressure mats were being produced.
What Are Acupressure Points?
Acupressure is an ancient form of healing through using finger pressure on key pressure points on the body. It was discovered that through targeting these key points, also known as meridians, the body can be stimulated to heal naturally.
Acupressure Trigger Points
Acupressure trigger points are pressure points that are distant from the pain that’s being relieved. So if pressing a point on the hand relieves pain in the legs for example, this is a trigger point. This works by the healing energy travelling through meridians.
Acupressure Local Points
Acupressure local points are the points that the pain is and is also being treated. So using pressure on points in the hands and treating pain in the hands for example is a local point.
What are Meridians?
Meridians are pathways that connect between acupressure points. These pathways cannot be seen with the eye, but are used to channel energy between organs and pressure points.
Meridians are believed to be an important part of the communication system in the body. Connecting the emotional, physiological and sensory aspects of the body.
How Acupressure Mats Work with Meridians
As explained, stimulating one area of the body can channel healing messages to other parts of the body. This is where acupressure mats can prove very effective.
With the thousands of pins on acupressure mats you can stimulate large areas of your body. This can promote healing all over your body. For example, a lot of people report using a mat on their back, and relieving pain in their legs and hands.
Do Acupressure Mats Work
As far as scientific evidence goes there isn’t a lot of conclusive evidence to cite. We do know that there are over 100 acupressure points on the back. Using an acupressure mat will stimulate some of these points and there is a real effect to this.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has published papers backing up the effectiveness of acupressure therapy. Numerous tests with subjects using both an acupressure mat, and a normal mat were compared.
Subjects using the acupressure mat showed signs of increased blood circulation. Their heart rates slowed down, and the subjects reported healing effects. So to answer, do acupressure mats work – yes, there and there is evidence to support this.
Another study showed that subjects suffering with back and neck pain found relief by using acupressure mats. With just 15 minutes a day laying on a mat patients experienced a significant reduction in pain.
So if you’re looking for a yes or no answer. Yes, acupressure mats do work. The effects everyone experiences will vary, but there are some serious health benefits. Backed up with some credible studies and testimonials.
The mats are also known to help patients suffering with insomnia. By stimulating better blood flow and an deeper sense of relaxation. Patients often find insomnia and sleeping disorders are treated.
I have used a few different acupressure mats and can confirm they did work for me. Although I found the experience a little difficult at first. Once I was used to the feel, I used a mat for 10-15 minutes a day and felt a lot better for it.
Pains I was dealing with in my lower back and leg were almost immediately resolved. I found the sessions incredibly relaxing, and combined my time with some mindfulness and meditation.
Benefits of Using an Acupressure Mat
Acupressure mats are designed to heal and treat a wide range of physical and mental problems. The mat was created by someone suffering with chronic pain and muscle spams. It’s been refined since then, but the results are the same.
The most common issues targeted with acupressure mats is back and neck pain. Something that affects a large percentage of the population. So having a cost-effective and easy solution you can do at home is a great help.
Acupressure mats improve the blood and oxygen supply in the body. These has a lot of natural healing properties, not to mention the energy being stimulated and travelling through the body’s meridians.
Some of the more common health issues treated include:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Sleeping disorders
- Stress and anxiety
- General joint pain
- General muscle pain
These mats are easy to use and get started with too. There are some helpful videos online, and I will include one in this post. But there isn’t much more to it than applying pressure to the area of your body you want to use.
The real benefit is is using the mat on an regular basis. Set a routine daily and stick to it. This way you will get the maximum benefit and your body will become accustomed to healing.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat
It’s not difficult to use an acupressure mat. They are very user-friendly, the only downside is that he pins can hurt a little at first. But this is a necessary part of the healing process.
You don’t have to just use the mat on the floor either. You can place it on a chair, sofa, or anywhere else you will be applying pressure. The key thing is that you are comfortable and able to stay still for 10-15 minutes.
The best time to use the mat is believed to be in the morning. I use mine in the evenings however, and think this is just as good. They usually roll up and fit in a carry bag. So no excuses for not taking it with you if you’re travelling.
The best way to use a mat and gain long-term relief is to use the mat daily and keep up a routine. 10-15 minutes daily is usually enough, but depending on specific conditions you may need to do longer sessions.
If you find the mat too painful to lay on at first try using a thin towel or wearing a shirt. A few sessions like this and you will be ready for bare skin. Just remember, it’s designed to be used on bare skin and will not do any damage.
Keep hydrated before and after using the mat. Drink plenty of water and make sure your mind is in the right place. Keep calm and treat it like a meditation session. Focus on your body, your mind, and your health.
So do acupressure mats work? Yes they do. Acupressure mats are very effective at helping with all the physical, mental and emotional conditions as highlighted throughout this article. All you have to do is use the mat correctly to make the most of it.
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.