Should You Buy an Acupressure Mat?
Acupressure mats are the new big trend. But do they really work? And should you invest in one? We’re here to tell you the benefits of using acupressure mats.
How is it different from acupuncture:
Acupuncture and acupressure both stimulate acupoints. Acupuncture involves needles that pierce the skin whereas acupressure is non-invasive with manual pressure used to massage the acupoints.
What is an acupressure mat:
Acupressure is a similar technique to acupuncture, it is based on the concept of energy flowing throughout the body. During acupuncture physical pressure is applied to tension points which aim to clear blockages in these meridians (channels through which qi and the other fundamental substances flow. They are known by many different names, such as acupuncture meridians, acupoints, and energy vessels). Acupuncture has been known to relieve tension, migraines, anxiety and sinus issues. Acupressure is essentially the same concept but at a consumer level.
The idea is that the mat is covered in shallow plastic spikes that are designed to help stimulate acupressure points all at once at a reduced pressure compared to acupuncture which targets specific areas. When your body feels these pressure points being stimulated you may feel relief in other areas of your body, in the same way, that during acupuncture having a needle in your hand can release tension in your shoulders.
As acupressure is a practice that should be used with caution throughout this blog post I will link to studies that have been conducted which help to justify my points.
Acupressure mats are a natural form of pain relief:
According to NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) Lower back pain affects around one-third of the UK adult population each year. An acupressure mat can help relieve some of this pain naturally so you don’t have to reach for the pain meds.
The Eurpean Journal of Integrative Medicine conducted a study to see if using the acupressure mat for two weeks would help people with chronic back pain. They found that participants reported that a little bit of pain went away immediately after using the mat but their back pain didn’t improve overall. However, acupressure mats may not be for everyone so it is advised to get medical advice before you use one since around 10% of the people in the study had to stop using the mat because it hurt so badly.
Other benefits to using an acupressure mat:
1. Produces Endorphins
Using an acupressure mat helps to release endorphins which are known as ‘the body’s natural pain killers’ since they help to reduce pain and they create a feeling of euphoria.
2. Lowers high blood pressure
A clinical train conducted in Taiwan looked at how acupressure affected patients with hypertension. During the trial, it found that blood pressure was lowered for a period of at least 30 minutes. There needs to be more research around acupressure reducing blood pressure on a long term basis however an acupressure mat provides a great short term solution.
3. Improves Sleep
Acupressure mats help you relax and make the tension in your muscles release making them great for helping you get to sleep.
4. Improves mental health
A major study conducted in 2015 found that depression, anxiety, and stress can be positively impacted by acupressure. Subjects used the mat three times a week for four weeks showed positive results and the mat found to significantly reduce depression, stress and anxiety.
5. Positive impact on headaches and migraines
Acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines and headaches so it is no surprise that the acupressure mat also has these benefits and has been shown to have a positive impact on chronic headaches. A study conducted in Taiwan in 2010 compared acupressure with muscle relaxant therapy and found that acupressure was much more effective. Six months after one treatment the effects still remained.
6. Manage your own treatment
By having your own mat you can manage your treatment time and use it when it is convenient for you.
7. Saves money
As mats range from £20 – £60 once you buy it you don’t have to pay out any more money. This is a great alternative for people who want regular acupressure treatment but can’t necessarily afford to go.
Acupressure mats may be the new foam roller, soon everyone will have one! However, make sure to do your research before purchasing a mat and if you have any concerns speak to your doctor first.