Acupressure is an ancient Chinese therapy that is practiced by health professionals around the world. With an acupressure mat, you can enjoy the treatment in your own home.
But, do acupressure mats actually work?
Yes! Research has shown they offer a number of different health advantages from natural pain management to a healthier complexion.
During the pandemic, acupressure mats have also been endorsed by many as a way to deal with the high levels of stress and anxiety many of us are experiencing.
To learn more about this spiky treatment, take a look at 25 proven benefits of using an acupressure mat:
1: Natural Pain Relief
One of the key benefits is that it’s a natural form of pain relief.
With an increasing number of people living with daily pain, anything that can help manage it in a natural way is sure to be desirable.
A major systematic review in 2014 looked at all the research surrounding acupressure and pain.
Findings were overwhelmingly positive and showed that acupressure was effective for a variety of different types of pain.
The study concluded that health professionals should consider the use of acupressure as a complementary therapy for managing the pain associated with many conditions.
2: Effective for Chronic Pain
In the above mentioned study, acupressure was shown to be particularly powerful for managing chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months or past the time of normal healing.
Pilot studies in 2012 looked at the impact an acupressure mat, referred to in the study as a mechanical needle stimulation pad, had on chronic neck and lower back pain.
82 patients in total used an acupressure mat, with plastic points, for a 14 week period.
Pain was shown to be reduced significantly, with researchers recognizing the effects the mat had on the pain processing system.
3: Helps to Treat Anxiety
Anxiety is now the most common mental illness in the US, impacting over 40 million people.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA), explain that the condition is highly treatable.
So why not try acupressure?
Between 1997 and 2014, there were 39 studies conducted into how the spiky treatment can help to calm the mind.
Every study reported a positive outcome, highlighting how acupressure can provide immediate relief from the symptoms of anxiety.
Other studies have found it’s also powerful for treating stress and depression.
5: Improves Sleep
A study in 2015 looked at the sleep of menopausal women and found that it was improved significantly following acupressure treatments.
More recently, researchers reviewed the use of self-administered acupressure for treating symptoms of insomnia.
Respondents were taught how to administer acupressure then monitored and asked to keep a diary to record the quality of their sleep.
It found that if individuals were shown how to apply the treatment correctly this could be used as a tool for treating the symptoms of insomnia.
What’s the difference between acupuncture and acupressure?
- Acupuncture and acupressure both stimulate acupoints. Acupuncture is with needles that pierce the skin, acupressure is non-invasive with manual pressure used to massage the acupoints.
- Despite the differences, you’ll often hear people refer to acupressure mats as ‘acupuncture mats’ or ‘pressure point mats’.
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7: Lowers High Blood Pressure
Clinical trials conducted in Taiwan looked at the impact of acupressure on patients with hypertension.
During the trial it was found that blood pressure was lowered for a period of at least 30 minutes.
More research is needed to see the extent to which acupressure can reduce blood pressure on a long term basis, however the project proved it to be effective as a short term solution.
8: Aids with Sports Injuries
For those suffering from sports injuries, results of a study conducted at the University of Otago revealed promising findings.
Acupressure decreased the reported pain scores in athletes with acute injuries but not anxiety levels.
The conclusion was that acupressure could be effective in a sports setting, especially if there is limited access to medical care.
9: Improves Circulation
When you’re shopping around for an acupressure mat, you’ll notice that many manufacturers claim their mat will help to improve your circulation.
Take a look at the reviews of Nayoya’s popular acupressure mat on Amazon, and you’ll see that consumers agree!
10: Muscle Relaxation
Users of the popular Spoonk Acupressure Mat reported relaxed muscles following regular use of an acupressure mat.
Those suffering from neck and back pain in particular reported that their muscles felt relaxed after sessions.
There is currently little research to back this up, however look at reviews of many acupressure mats and you’ll see this frequently mentioned.
11: Increases Energy Levels
Acupressure has been shown to help with fatigue and to increase energy levels.
An experimental study at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan focused on patients suffering from hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer.
Findings proved that acupressure can improve fatigue, and it was recommended that educational guides should be created to help patients take advantage of the therapy.
12: Helps with Weight Management
Lying back on a spiky mat, might seem like an odd technique for weight management.
However, one study in 2010 found that acupressure, specifically ear acupressure, had a positive impact on weight loss.
In fact, it was shown over the course of eight weeks to reduce BMI.
There is little other evidence to prove or disprove the claim, however many manufacturers (like Bed of Nails) highlight it as a feature of the mat.
13: Better Digestion
It might seem like an unlikely benefit, but acupressure has been shown to improve the quality of life for those suffering from digestion problems.
A 2015 research project looked at perineal self-acupressure which aided in the movement of bowel function.
Generally it was found to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of those suffering from constipation.
14: Healthier Complexion
Many manufacturers promote the fact that acupressure therapy, when applied directly to the face, can have a positive impact on your complexion.
Michael Reed Gach, PhD, an expert on the therapy does suggest that the technique brings more oxygen to the skin which in turn improves the appearance.
However currently there is little evidence to substantiate the claims.
15: Improves Male Sexual Performance
Findings published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Research International, found a link between acupressure and improved male sexual performance.
Subjects took part in 10 acupressure sessions during the study. Throughout the treatments different pressure points on the body, linked to sexual health, were stimulated.
The International Index of Erectile Function, was the measurement used to judge the results.
Acupressure therapy was deemed to be effective in improving overall male sexual performance, including erectile function and sexual desire.
17: Little or No Side Effects
Use of an acupressure mat is found to have little or no side effects.
Research that looked at pain severity in female nurses with chronic back pain, determined that acupressure was effective in reducing pain but also that it was an easy therapy with no side effects.
However there are a number of people who should avoid acupressure including those with fractures for example.
18: Long Term Use
Evidence published about acupressure always highlights the fact that it’s a safe treatment option that can be used on a long term basis.
19: Low Cost
Compared to other therapy options for pain, acupressure mats are a relatively affordable choice.
They range in price from approximately $20 up to $200 depending on the size and quality of mat that you’re looking for.
When you want treatment for a serious condition you might have been given a number of invasive options.
However acupressure is non-invasive so can be tried without the element of risk.
Many acupressure mats come with a bag, allowing you to take it wherever you go. It might be something you could keep at work for difficult days or use at the gym.
23: Use at Home
Acupressure is carried out by physical therapists in many clinics, however the benefit of an acupressure mat is that you can use it in your own home!
It’s ideal if you have pain that strikes without warning, as you have a pain relief option that you can roll out whenever you need it.
24: Purchased Over The Counter (OTC)
You don’t need a prescription to buy an acupressure mat, they can be easily purchased from many different outlets.
25: Enhance Your Yoga and Meditation Practice
Regular users of acupressure mats appear to be united in how much their mat aids them in their yoga practice.
Many (like users of ProsourceFit’s Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set) speak of another level of relaxation, and love how the mat adds a new dimension to their practice.
Others spoke of using it in meditation and how it can be utilized as part of a relaxation routine.
Acupressure mats really do have some surprising health advantages, and researchers are committed to discovering more.
With so many benefits, it’s time to roll out your acupressure mat and reap the rewards!
- UCLA Center for East-West Medicine (2019). What is the difference between acupuncture and acupressure? [Online]. Available from: https://exploreim.ucla.edu/east-west-medicine/what-is-the-difference-between-acupuncture-and-acupressure/ [Accessed 09 January 2021]. ↩
- Arbuckle, A. Q. (2016). 1910-1981 Beds of nails. [Online]. Available from: https://mashable.com/2016/03/04/bed-of-nails/ [Accessed 09 January 2021]. ↩