Do Acupressure Mats Work to Relieve Pain?
If you are dealing with back pain, headaches, or stress, an acupressure mat might help. It can be an effective and all-natural way to ease your symptoms from the comfort of your home. Instead of a practitioner using their hands to apply pressure on specific spots, the mat does the work for you.
Acupressure is an offshoot of acupuncture, a therapy that originated in China over 3,000 years ago. Less invasive than acupuncture — which uses thin needles — acupressure puts pressure on trigger points. Although the practice is ancient, the use of acupressure mats is more recent. And it could help you in more ways than one.
What is an acupressure mat?
An acupressure mat (also called a spike mat or needle stimulation pad) is a pad that is covered with spikes made of non-toxic plastic. They are made to press into the skin without puncturing it. Depending on your intended use, you can sit, stand, or lie on the mats.
The concept is simple: the mats apply pressure to specific body parts — called meridians, pressure points, or acupoints. It works the same way that acupressure or acupuncture does.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, applying pressure to these points helps diffuse the blocked meridian, restores balance, and relieves pain. Western practitioners believe that putting pressure on these points boosts circulation, eases muscle tension, and stimulates endorphins to help relieve pain.
What’s more, the mats come in different sizes to fit your needs. You can lay your entire body on larger mats. And you can use smaller mats directly on targeted pain spots, such as your foot or neck. You don’t need a doctor’s prescription to get an acupressure mat. It can be bought online or at many retail or wellness chains.
How do acupressure mats work?
Most people can use acupressure mats. But some groups should avoid using them or take caution to avoid piercing the skin. This includes people with diabetes, thin skin, open wounds, bleeding disorders, or poor circulation. If you are pregnant or have heart disease, cancer, or arthritis, talk to your provider before using an acupressure mat.
Once you know it’s safe to use an acupressure mat, you should be good to go. Most acupressure mats look like yoga mats with spikes. Some come with a rounded cervical pillow for your neck.
To use your mat, follow these suggestions:
Spread your mat out on the floor or a bed.
You can also start by laying it over a chair and sitting on it.
You may want to wear a lightweight t-shirt or use a thin sheet as a layer for the first time to get accustomed to the feeling.
Slowly lie down on the mat, keeping your weight evenly distributed.
After you get accustomed to the mat, remove your shirt or wear a sports bra. Bare skin provides the best results.
Studies have shown that pain peaks in 30 seconds and then should diminish. You may feel tingling, warmth, or a pulsating feeling.
Take slow, deep breaths and try to relax.
Start with 5 to 10 minutes and work up to 20 to 30 minutes daily.
Don’t wiggle or shift too much to avoid scratching yourself.
Allow yourself to relax, but don’t fall asleep on the mat.
To stand on your mat, try these suggestions:
You can start with socks and work up to bare feet.
Stand still on the mat.
You can also sit down in a chair and place your feet on the mat to start.
Start with 5 minutes and work your way up.