Health & Wellness

What Is An Acupressure Mat And Why You Need One

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This article may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Privacy Policy.

Chances are you have heard of acupuncture before. Acupuncture has been around for over 3,000 years and first originated in China but is practiced worldwide now. This traditional Chinese medicine practice is typically done by inserting tiny needles on your bare skin in specific areas to help alleviate some sort of pain. Acupuncture has been known to help people with everything from pain relief, morning sickness, headaches, fibromyalgia, sciatica and the list goes on. It is also known to help with depression and anxiety. 

I am a sucker for a good deep tissue massage, and a few years ago, I decided to give an acupressure massage a go. This is a combination of acupuncture and a massage in the same visit, and it is glorious. I always left my appointments in a state of euphoria. No matter how much muscle tension I had built up, it melted away after my visits. But then the pandemic hit, and wellness centers across the globe had to close. Even if they are slowly opening back up, I am unsure if I am ready to dive back in quite yet. 

If you are like me and yearning for an alternative from the comfort of your own home, because let’s be honest, we all still have stress and need a way to unwind. Or say you aren’t quite ready for someone to stick a bunch of needles into your body; you will want to grab an acupressure mat and create your own DIY experience from your home! 

An acupressure mat is excellent for newbies, veterans or anyone looking for a sweet little release. 

What is an Acupressure Mat?

An acupressure mat looks similar to a yoga mat, except it is covered in hundreds of tiny plastic spikes. An acupressure mat has almost 9,000 acupressure points. And most of them come with a pillow set with an additional nearly 1,800 acupressure points to help release any tension or neck pain. 

Related: Amazon’s 7 Best Yoga Mats [For Channeling Your Inner Yogi]

How to Use an Acupressure Mat

First, find a spot to put your mat. You can also set up your mat on the ground, couch, bed or chair, wherever you feel most comfortable. Beginners tend to opt for a soft couch or bed, and as you get used to your mat, you can move it to a harder surface like the floor. 

Get comfy and lay on your back on the mat for 20-30 minutes each session. You can also start with sitting on your mat to get used to the feeling and slowly lay back. In the beginning,

I suggest wearing a shirt or putting a sheet in between you and your mat; it will be more comfortable. Once you are used to the feeling of the mat, you might choose to put your bare skin directly on the mat.

If your mat comes with an acupressure pillow, you just place that at the top of the mat and lay it down. You might be a little intimidated by putting all of your body weight on what looks like a bed of nails, but trust me, it isn’t bad. And if you suffer from lower back pain, you will forget all about the scary needles once you feel the sweet relief. Also, it is important not to make sudden or quick position changes as it can pierce or scratch your skin if you move too fast. 

If you want to start slow and only lay down for 5 minutes to start, that is okay! 

Five minutes on your mat will still get your blood flow circulating and offer relief to any soreness you are dealing with. Like anything in life, consistency will be the best when it comes to reaping the benefits of acupressure. It is not a one-and-done miracle; you will need to stick with it to see a difference. Carve out at least 10 minutes a day dedicated to acupressure, you will thank yourself. 

Benefits of Acupressure Mats

There are a myriad of benefits from acupressure, but they are not for everyone. It is no surprise that acupressure mats help with blood circulation and help you feel free-flowing energy. If at any point you feel severe pain, stop immediately and talk to your doctor. This is supposed to help you, not make it worse. I will also go over the most common ways acupressure mats can help offer you some sweet relief. 

Pain 

The older we get, the more pain most of us seem to have pop up out of nowhere. Even something as minor as sleeping the wrong way at night could cause you to wake up with some weird neck pain you’ve never had before that lingers for a few days. 

According to a neck and lower back study done in 2012, individuals who used an acupressure mat did report less pain after use. You can use both the pillow or mat for neck pain relief, whatever is most comfortable to you. 

If you go the pillow route, you can either sit in a chair or on the couch and position the pillow where you need it. Or you can sit in a tall chair and use a pillow. After about 20 minutes or so, you should feel some much-needed release, and any pain or tension should slowly lessen. If you opt for lying down on your map, make sure to roll up a towel to place underneath your head for maximum comfort. You can lie on your mat for up to 40 minutes or whenever you start to feel a reduction in pain or tension. 

Acupressure mats are also known to help alleviate menstrual pain, headaches, dental complications and help reduce cancer pain

Sleep

I could definitely use more sleep and I bet you could too! 

If you are hoping an acupressure mat can help you get into a deeper sleep, you will want to lay on your mat for at least 20 minutes. However, do not fall asleep on your mat; you might put too much pressure in one area or puncture your skin, which will completely defeat the purpose of helping you get a deeper sleep. 

You use your acupressure mat the same way for helping with sleep or back pain. Simply position your pillow in between the bottom of your head and your shoulder (also known as your neck crevice) and relax.

Energy 

Acupressure can also help with the opposite of better sleep; it can help boost your energy! Using an acupressure mat in the morning before you dive into your day or pulling it out midday when you’ve hit that slump can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. The good news is, you only need to lay on your mat for 20 minutes. The longer you lay on your mat, the more relaxed you will feel, and it might make you more sleepy. Using an acupressure mat to boost energy is a quick way to kickstart your body without relying on caffeine. 

There are two different ways to use your acupressure mat for an energy boost. One way is to lay flat on your mat for about 20 minutes, no longer, or you will trigger the sleeping benefits! The other way is by triggering the reflexology points on the bottom of your feet using your neck pillow. Sit upright in a chair and put the bottoms of your feet on top of the little spikes. 

The foot method is also great for pain and anxiety. You can even set up your little foot station under your desk while you are working; just make sure to set a timer and keep it to about 20 minutes. And if you are feeling really up to it, you can stand on the pillow for a deeper massage. 

Stress Relief 

Have you ever tried meditation? For some people, it’s tough to get into “the zone” when it comes to meditating, and it can be challenging for beginners to receive all the benefits truly. An acupressure mat can offer physical relief and help calm your mind and overall well-being. 

You can put your mat on the floor or on a couch or bed if you are looking for something a little comfier to help you relax. Just like you would at the end of your yoga practice, get comfortable in a Shavasana position. Close your eyes and begin to take deep breaths. It might help you to put on a meditation playlist to really focus. Spend at least 25 minutes and as long as 40 minutes to truly soak in all of the stress relief benefits. 

Related: 5-Step Sequence For Dealing With Lower Back Pain

Who Should NOT Use An Acupressure Mat 

While it’s always best to ask your doctor for advice, if you are worried about using an acupressure mat, I will go over common groups of people who should steer clear of acupressure. 

In general, the following people should not use an acupressure mat:

  • Pregnant women 
  • Nursing mothers 
  • Individuals with thin skin 
  • Individuals with high or low blood pressure 
  • Individuals with heart conditions 
  • Children 

Acupressure mats should also never be used to replace medications. If you are wondering if an acupressure mat is safe for you to use, just ask your doctor! 

The Best Acupressure Mat

Hands down, the best acupressure mat on the market is the Ki Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set from ProsourceFit. Their mat stimulates almost 8,000 acupressure points. The pillow adds about an additional 1,400 acupressure points. It’s made with coconut fiber filling, ABS plastic and 100% natural linen. Do not put this mat in the washing machine; it is a hand wash only item. Just turn it inside out and hand wash it, and let it hang dry.  

Another awesome thing about this particular acupressure mat is that it comes with a carrying bag, so it is easy to store and keep clean. You can take this on the go if you are heading out of town for the weekend and want to zen out in your hotel room. 

They also have a regular Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set if you are looking for a cheaper massage mat. This particular mat set also comes with a neck pillow, but it is shaped more like a foam roller. It has almost 1,800 acupressure points in the pillow and over 6,000 on the mat. It does not come with a carrying bag, but if you are looking to ease into acupressure therapy, this is very highly rated in the customer reviews. 

One reviewer even said, “My experience after two weeks is life-changing. I have been struggling with a right hamstring and glute injury for five months. Chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture have helped. But it was not until using the acupressure mat and pillow that I finally got to 100%. I am a runner, and I am finally running pain-free. I am sold on this product. I intend to keep using it to keep my body healthy.” 

After a long day, you really can’t go wrong with either ProsourceFit acupressure mat. 

Alternatives to Try

If you figured out that acupressure isn’t right for you for whatever reason, there are other treatments you can try with similar benefits. 

Other treatments include: 

  • Cupping massage 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Ayurvedic medicine 
  • Gua sha 
  • Trigger point massage
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Reflexology 
  • Reiki 

Any of these alternative practices could be great for you to try if acupressure doesn’t help you. As always, listen to your body and do what is right for you. 

Do Acupressure Mats Actually Work? 

If you are suffering from neck pain, chronic back pain or just looking for something that will help stimulate some endorphins, an acupressure mat might do the trick. Although there’s limited research on if they genuinely work if an acupressure mat helps address a specific trigger point or offers some back pain relief, I believe they are a safe and inexpensive option to test out. 

It could be a great supplement to a deep massage, acupuncture or any other in-person treatment. 

You might also be interested in: Theragun vs. Hyperice vs. Hydragun: Massage Gun Showdown [Buyer’s Guide]

Christine Devereaux Evangelista

Christine Devereaux Evangelista

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