If you follow any health account on social media you too might have been bombarded for months by everyone promoting acupressure mats. I’m usually not one to jump on the newest popular “biohacking” thing that comes up but I do get curious. Like, why is this a thing? So I found one for an extremely good deal and decided to give it a try since the investment was so low.
One of the things I like to do as a health coach is trying the different foods and modalities first and then share my experience and thoughts with you. Before I dive into my experience using one for 30 days straight, I want to talk about acupressure. What it is, where it originated, and why it’s a useful therapy.
What Acupressure Is And Its Uses
Acupressure is a practice used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s similar to acupuncture but instead of needles, fingers and massage are used. TCM practitioners say acupressure benefits are achieved by using pressure points along the energy pathways in the body, to encourage the free flow of energy or qi.
Acupressure is used to treat blocked energy. The scientific community isn’t sure quite how it works. Some think the pressure may cause the release of endorphins. These are natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body. Others think pressure may influence the autonomic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary things like your heart, digestion, and breathing.
According to the principles of TCM, invisible pathways of energy called meridians flow within the body. At least 14 meridians are thought to connect the organs with other parts of the body. A practitioner applies pressure to specific acupressure points to restore healthy energy flow. The points they choose depend on your symptoms. Given how meridians run, the pressure points used may be a long way from the site of the symptom. For example, an acupressure point on the foot may be used to relieve a headache.
It is often used to help treat:
- Menstrual cramps
- Motion sickness
- Chronic pain
- Lowering blood pressure
- Muscle tension and pain
- Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and morning sickness
- Nausea and vomiting after surgery or chemotherapy
Studies have shown that it does work compared to placebos or when false pressure points are used, which is cool.
What is an Acupressure Mat and How Does It Work?
So now that we know about acupressure, let’s talk about acupressure mats. These are relatively new inventions and from my research were created in the early 2000s. They aren’t well-studied yet. They are mats covered in thousands of plastic spikes. They don’t break the skin so no worries there. What they do is apply pressure to a large area.
What they claim to help with is:
- Easing chronic pain
- Improving sleep
- Headache and migraine relief
- Easing muscle tension
- Helps alleviate anxiety
- Increase blood circulation
I mean those are pretty big claims right? However, my mom is a massage therapist and I know the amazing benefits of that. I have had acupuncture and cupping done as well and those are amazing too. I figured there would be benefits to regular and consistent use of this mat.
Here’s My Experience
I got my mat. Sure enough, it’s spikey. I decided to use it at night. I always get so tired after a massage or even just laying down for any period of time so I figured to work with it instead of against it right?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect the first time I used it. I didn’t follow any directions. I just knew that people laid on them with bare skin so that is what I did. It was an interesting first experience. It actually felt really good across my back. Warm even. I bought one that came with a pillow and that even felt good on most of my neck. There were two areas that were quite tender. The very top of my neck where it meets my skull and along all of my bottom that touched the mat.
I’m petite, only 5 and ¾ of an inch so like half of my bottom lays on it. It took several minutes for my body to relax and the feeling of pressure to ease. I slept ah-mazing that night.
The second night there was less pressure and it became quite relaxing.
The third night I felt my jaw tension release. A little history around the tension in my jaw. In 2020 my face started to feel really tight all of the time, especially in my jaw. Every time I would get a massage from my mom who is an amazing therapeutic massage therapist, I’d ask her to massage my face to help it relax. So to literally feel the tension release was incredible then it didn’t come back!
As the days went on I learned that if I had a particularly stressful day, I was more sensitive to the pressure and had to lay on it longer to relax enough for the pressure to alleviate. On days there weren’t stressful it would feel relaxing and warm quickly. I typically lay on it for 10-15 minutes.
It’s now part of my nightly routine and I look forward to it. It’s my favorite part.
Benefits I’ve noticed
- Improved sleep and waking up rested
- Less tension throughout my body which I can feel physically feel
- Increased stress resiliency
- It really felt like my body was able to move away from fight or flight to rest and repair
If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for yourself or a loved one who is crunchy like us, I do recommend it. The prices range from $30-$80 and there are a lot of options out there.