As a wellness enthusiast and human test subject, I am constantly on the lookout for the next amazing product that’s going to promise me better overall health. So that’s why when someone told me I should buy a cushion covered with spikes on it for more energy, better sleep, and less stress, I replied “where do I get one!?” 🙋♀️
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In all seriousness, acupressure mats contain THOUSANDS of plastic points that gently apply pressure directly to the acupoints on the body, releasing tension and stimulating blood flow. It sounds painful, but when you consider the fact that yogis in India still use an actual bed of nails to promote healing and help improve meditation, it really isn’t so bad!
Plus, with more use, your body adjusts to the feeling, eventually finding total relaxation when using it. Acupressure mats stimulate the body to release endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body, thus boosting overall mood ⚡️
This post covers:
- What is Acupressure?
- Acupressure Mat Benefits
- How to Correctly Use an Acupressure Mat & What to Expect
- What Acupressure Mat Should I Buy? (& My Personal Experience!)
Before we get into even more of the amazing benefits of an acupressure mat, let’s back up and talk about what acupressure actually is.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is an ancient massage therapy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dating as far back as 2000 B.C. It encourages the movement of qi, or life force energy, which is constantly flowing through the body at all times through pathways called meridians. If these pathways become blocked or out of balance, TCM believes that this could cause illness, fatigue, or other imbalances in the body.
Acupressure works by applying pressure to different points of the body, known as acupoints. Applying the pressure is said to release tension and stress, promoting general well-being.
Other benefits of acupressure include: helping the body repair and heal itself from stress, back pain, fatigue, muscle soreness, and insomnia. It is also said to boost the immune system!
So how is acupressure different from acupuncture? Although they both stimulate acupoints on the body, acupuncture is different in that it does so by using tiny needles. That being said, both treatments can be very effective for alleviating many of the same symptoms. So let’s talk more about the amazing benefits of these mats!
Acupressure Mat Benefits
There are soooooo many benefits of using acupressure mats. Here are just a few that users rave about:
- Relieves headaches and neck/back pain
- Alleviates chronic pain
- Loosens tight or stiff muscles and can release pressure on pinched nerves
- Relieves stress
- Reduces anxiety and depression by stimulating endorphins
- Increases blood circulation
- Relieves muscle and shoulder tension
- Heals leg and foot pain
- Reduces sciatica pain
- Helps you sleep/decreases insomnia
- Helps with blood pressure management
- Eases constipation
- Helps relieve sinus congestion
- Can visibly smooth cellulite
- Energizes the mind and body!
How to Correctly Use an Acupressure Mat
Okay, so how the heck does one properly lay on a modern-day bed of nails? 😂 I promise, it really isn’t as scary as it sounds. As I noted earlier, acupressure mats can take a little getting used to, and the spikes can sometimes cause some initial discomfort. But soon you will find that they start to warm up the body and feel really good, as tension begins to release.
Experts recommend that for best results, you can use your mat daily for 10-20 minutes at a time. The following tips will give you the most comfortable and effective results:
- First, choose the surface that you plan to use your mat on. You can use them anywhere, but I’d recommend starting out by spreading the mat on a bed or couch. Once you start to get used to your mat, you can move it directly to the floor.
- Place a thin layer between yourself and the mat. This could simply be a lightweight shirt, or maybe a thin sheet or blanket, to help you acclimate to the feeling.
- Begin to lie down on the mat VERY slowly. Evenly distribute your weight onto the mat to help avoid any injury from the spikes.
- Take slow, deep breaths as you lie down, helping your body move into a relaxed state.
- Once you are laying down, you can begin to reposition yourself carefully.
- Try not to fidget or move around on the mat too much, or you may scratch or pierce the skin.
- Use your mat consistently for the best results (they’re awesome to travel with too!)
You can use the mat on different areas of your body depending on what you want to target! Lower back pain? Put a pillow or rolled-up towel under the mat under your low back area. Lay on your tummy for cramping and bloating. Stand on the mat or press your palm on it for a hand or foot massage. Get creative!
What to Expect During Your Acupressure Session
You’re probably wondering, “Becca, be straight with me, how painful is it?” Let me just say this…if you have a low tolerance for pain, this is probably not for you! Like, my husband tried laying on my mat once and refuses to try again 🙄 (probably why women are the ones to go through childbirth 💪 just sayin’)
BUT! I reallllllllllllly encourage you to try. Because truly, it’s only uncomfortable for about a minute or two and then a wave of relief goes over your body. Here’s a nifty little graphic about what you can expect:
You shouldn’t bleed or anything, but if you happen to accidentally shift too much then you could maybe catch your skin on one of the spikes. Just try to lay as still as possible! It will leave your skin fairly red for a bit, too.
Things to Consider with Acupressure Mats ⚠️
Using an acupressure mat can be a helpful addition to your daily wellness routine. But just like anything else, there are always things to take into consideration when it comes to using it correctly. After all, it is a mat covered in tiny, sharp spikes 🙂 If the mat is used incorrectly, it can cause pain or even damage the skin. Here are some notes to take into consideration for use, directly from the experts:
- If you have thin skin, diabetes, or poor circulation it is best to avoid using an acupressure mat.
- Many acupressure mat manufacturers do not recommend using the mats when pregnant.
- Acupressure mats should only be used during labor under a medical professional’s supervision.
- Babies and small children should not use an acupressure mat.
- If you have high or low blood pressure, talk to a medical professional before using an acupressure mat.
- It’s not advised to share your mat unless you thoroughly sanitize it in between uses (since it could have trace amounts of sweat or blood!)
- Some brands advertise using their mats overnight while you sleep, but experts will tell you that that’s a bad idea. It’s best to not exceed 30 minutes on the mat, as they could cause bruising or damage to the surface of the skin.
What Acupressure Mat Should I Buy?
Just like a yoga mat, there are many different styles and types of acupressure mats, based on your preference and budget.
It wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that acupressure took off in the United States and Europe after several Hollywood celebrities shared their practice. In the early 2000s, the acupressure mat was introduced in Sweden, and over one million were sold in the first year alone. Since that time, they have continued to grow in popularity all over the world and many brands have introduced their version of the mat.
My Experience with Pranamat Eco & Why I Chose It
After reading reviews and hearing from a friend that swears by her mat, I purchased a Pranamat! I have the set that’s just the mat and pillow (pictured below), but there are more options and sizes. The company was founded in 2009 and is supposed to be one of the best quality mats on the market.
- Has gone through clinical trials
- Handmade, ethically produced, and never outsourced to sweatshops
- OEKO-TEK certified and uses sustainable materials (natural cotton, coconut fiber, pure linen, natural dyes, and hypoallergenic High Impact Polystyrene [HIPs] plastic for the spikes which is more ecological than the alternatives)
- Has 10,000+ pointed spines which are more than average, AND the lotus design is patented and supposed to allow for longer and more effective massage points
- Comes with a 5-year warranty and 30-day trial period (you can return it if it’s not working for you)
- Available in lots of fun colors and set options (aesthetics matter to me okay)
- Not cheap! 😬
- Founded in Northern Europe which means if you live in the US, it’s shipping from quite far away
- Not all of the sets come with a travel case
Benefits I’ve Personally ExperienceD Using the Mat:
After using my Pranamat for a couple of months, I can honestly say that I love it! Well, more like a love/hate relationship because of that initial discomfort, hehe. I try to use mine 1-2x a week and more as needed. I won’t say it’s like anything miraculous but I DO notice some of the benefits firsthand:
- It’s especially helpful when I have a headache or migraine! I do feel like it helps relieve the pain and throbbing.
- I’ve used my mat when sick with a cold and can tell that it aids in decongestion a little bit.
- It does make me feel super calm afterward! So I really appreciate my mat when I’m stressed, anxious, worked up, or tense because it makes my body just let it all go.
- I do barre workouts often so I sometimes have stiff or sore muscles; this is initially uncomfortable on the soreness, but it does break up the tension and relax my muscles!
- I do tend to notice that I sleep well after using the mat! However, I already have rather good quality sleep so it’s hard to say for sure if that’s a direct contributor.
Overall, the price is the biggest downfall, but I can tell that it’s super high quality and well made. I’ve tried a friend’s knockoff acupressure mat once, for example, and it was flimsy and dull. You get what you pay for!
And you can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for 15% off a Pranamat! The discount applies automatically with this link below.
Budget-Friendly Acupressure Mat Option: WTHN
If you still wanna try out a mat for yourself but can’t quite splurge on a Prana, here is another great option for you with a lower price tag!
I have not tried this myself so I can’t compare it but have heard good things. It’s made with linen and filled with coconut fiber. One of the WTHN founders is a doctor of Chinese Medicine and a licensed acupuncturist.
You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount on a WTHN mat from Love Peace Organic using the link below!
Ready to Give Acupressure a Try?
Acupressure mats are a great way to ease tension, reduce pain, or simply just to add a little more self-care and relaxation into your day. Although the research on them is still pretty limited, users of these mats (including myself!) will tell you that they truly do work and are worth a shot!
Have you tried an acupressure mat or have another brand that you love and want to share? Let me hear it in the comments!
Resources & Further Reading:
- History of the acupressure mat
- Acupressure mat benefits
- NY Mag Acupressure mat benefits
- History of acupressure
- How to use acupressure mats
- Medical News Today Acupressure mats