Durable construction. Similar to acupuncture in that you receive tactile therapy with rounded plastic "nails." Portable; place it on a bed, chair, couch, or the floor.
More expensive than some other mats, though many users swear by its benefits.
Mat and pillow set with acupressure points for therapy and relief. Inexpensive.
The pillow doesn't seem as contoured as those in similar sets.
Butterfly-shaped mat takes up little space; easily stow it away or pack it in a suitcase. Addresses foot pain in heel, ball, toes. Inexpensive. Some find plantar fasciitis relief.
If you have tender or sensitive feet, you'll want to ease yourself onto this mat slowly.
Includes an acupressure pillow for neck and shoulder issues. Carrying case is well-designed.
The firmness of the acupressure points may cause discomfort.
Insomnia, stress, headaches, neck and back pain. These conditions are practically synonymous with modern life and all too familiar to many people.
Pain relievers or tranquilizers might bring relief, but what if there was a way to reduce those unpleasant symptoms without taking medication?
One method you may not have tried but that just might be your ticket to feeling better is an acupressure mat.
This do-it-yourself acupressure treatment is said to offer a variety of health benefits, mostly in the form of pain and stress relief.
If you’re intrigued but wondering how to choose and use an acupressure mat, we’re here to help.
We've talked to experts and gathered feedback from owners of acupressure mats.
If you just want to purchase an acupressure mat and start reaping the benefits, check out our recommended products.
If you’d like to learn more about these mats in general, including how to choose and use them, read our shopping guide.
Acupressure has been used for thousands of years in Asia to relieve pain, promote healing, and induce relaxation. The therapy involves deep, focused pressure to specific points along the body’s energy pathways, called meridians. In traditional acupressure treatments, the pressure is delivered by the therapist’s fingertips, knuckles, or elbows.
According to Eastern medicine, stimulating the meridians helps balance energy flow – called chi – throughout the body to restore and maintain the proper function of all body systems.
Western medicine tends to explain the benefits of acupressure as coming from the release of endorphins and the boost in circulation through the treated areas.
Acupuncture follows similar beliefs and guidelines, but the treatment involves piercing the skin with very thin needles carefully placed in acupoints along the meridians. When done correctly by a trained practitioner, acupuncture is not painful. In fact, many studies have shown that acupuncture is quite effective at relieving various painful conditions, such as migraine, chronic back pain, and arthritis.
Basically, an acupressure mat is a device that allows you to reap the benefits of acupressure on your own, without a therapist. The mats are made of foam, fabric, or most often, a layer of both, and studded with hard, round, plastic “rosettes” liberally covered with short spikes.
You’ll find acupressure mats in a range of sizes and many different colors.
When the user lies, stands, or sits on the mat, the sharp spikes stimulate the acupoints, thereby helping relieve any energy blockages along the body’s meridians. Because acupressure mats have so many spikes, you don’t need to know acupressure or acupuncture methodology to use them.
You’re pretty much guaranteed to stimulate several important acupoints just by lying on the mat.
There are quite a few acupressure mats on the market. These guidelines will help make your decision easier.
There are lots of fun colors to choose from, so go ahead and choose your favorite.
A carrying bag makes it much easier to store or transport your acupressure mat.
The foam padding of your mat helps make it comfortable. Preferably, it should be a nontoxic foam, not polyurethane.
Some brands use plant-based or eco-friendly foams to avoid any potential off-gassing, chemical sensitivities, or odors. You’ll also find some acupressure mats that use coconut fiber instead of foam.
Many acupressure mats have a fabric covering over the foam. The best mats use a natural, breathable fabric, such as cotton, linen, or hemp, and not a synthetic fabric.
The plastic spikes on your mat should be made of nontoxic ABS plastic, not plastic containing BPA.
A full mat that provides stimulation to your entire back should have several thousand spikes.
Most quality acupressure mats have from 6,000 to more than 8,000 spikes. Small mats made just for your feet should have at least 1,000 spikes.
Some acupressure mats include an acupressure pillow for treating your neck and head.
A few brands include a spiky massage ball, which is great for rolling under your feet, over your lower back, or on any other painful body area.
Cheap acupressure mats have spikes that are attached with glue. Choose a mat that with spikes that have been attached with heat for sturdier construction.
The packaging or advertising copy should indicate if it’s a glue-free mat.
Acupressure mats are not usually large enough to fit your whole body.
Most are large enough to fit under an average-size person’s upper back, neck, and head because those are the most common treatment areas. You’ll also find small mats intended just for feet and mats sized just for backs.
The right size for you depends on what parts of your body you want to treat.
Wear a thin T-shirt for your first treatment. If you’re using your acupressure mat for the first time, or if you haven’t been using it long, wearing a T-shirt lets your skin develop some tolerance to the spikes. Once you’re used to the feel of the mat, you can use it on bare skin.
Stretch your mat out on a flat surface. If you’ve been using the mat for a while, lay the mat on the floor. If you’re a beginner, you may find it less painful initially if you lay the mat on a bed or couch.
Lie down slowly. Position the part of your body you want to treat evenly across the acupressure mat.
Adjust your body until you’re comfortable. If you’re treating your lower back, place a small pillow or bolster under your knees for extra support.
Breathe slowly and deeply. The first few seconds or even minutes might hurt a little bit, but the pain should soon subside as your skin adjusts to the spikes. If the pain is too great, lay a towel over the spikes to relieve some of the pressure.
Use the mat for 20 to 40 minutes. A typical treatment session lasts about half an hour. Don’t sleep on your mat or extend your treatment time much beyond 40 minutes.
Position a small bolster or pillow under your neck. If you’re using your mat to treat headache or neck pain, place a small bolster or pillow underneath the top of the mat, and rest the back of your neck on top of the elevated mat.
You can choose to lie face down. You can lie face down on the mat to treat pain on the front of your body or simply to relax.
Stand on the mat. Give your feet a good acupressure treatment by standing on the mat. This stimulates many acupoints and is said to relieve painful conditions throughout the body.
Use the mat before bedtime. If you’re using the mat to help with insomnia, do your treatment before bedtime. If you’re using the mat for pain or other conditions, any time of day is fine.
You’ll find acupressure mats that cost anywhere between $15 and $60.
Small mats for the feet generally cost between $15 and $25.
You can find acupressure mats for as little as $20. However, these mats are likely to have glued-on spikes and lower-quality foam and fabric.
For a quality mat, expect to pay between $20 and $50. A very large mat might be as much as $60.
Q. Do acupressure mats actually work?
A. Although they haven’t been studied extensively, small studies have shown that acupressure can be an effective way to relieve pain, nausea, insomnia, and tension. There are very few studies specifically on acupressure mats, but presumably they should provide similar results. One small study carried out in Sweden found that users of acupressure mats did have significant relaxation responses.
Q. Does it hurt to lie on an acupressure mat?
A. While the amount of pain depends a great deal on your own tolerance, in general, yes, most people find the mats painful for at least the first few seconds. After that point, most users get accustomed to the sensation and find it either neutral or even pleasant. That’s when the benefits of pain reduction and tension relief usually start to kick in.
Q. Are acupressure mats safe?
A. While acupressure mats are safe for most people, you should not use them if you have very sensitive skin, any type of skin inflammation or infection, are pregnant, or have a serious medical condition that requires a doctor’s care, including clotting disorders or the use of blood-thinning medication. These mats are for adults only. Keep your mat safely away from your toddler or preteen.
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