An alternative method to reduce pain, stress and other ailments.
There is something slightly sadistic about wanting to lay on a bed of nails….
Acupressure is a favorite treatment of mine to relieve aches and pains. It’s a traditional Chinese medicine technique similar to acupuncture, that uses physical pressure instead of needles, to release blood flow and improve the body’s health and balance. The treatment is used to reduce many conditions including tension, pain, nausea and insomnia.
While acupressure is a calming and gentle experience, the acupressure mat has a different approach. The mat is made of foam or other cushiony material, covered with a cotton or linen case and has up to 8,800 plastic spikes embedded into the top surface. The spikes are formed in lotus flower shapes, specifically positioned to press and massage acupressure points. The pressure releases blocked chi, or energy, throughout the body.
Benefits of an acupressure mat
The list of health benefits from using the acupressure mat is long. Pain and tension relief are the most touted. Deep calm, relaxation, improved sleep, weight loss, increased blood flow and better digestion are just some of the ways that these mats are said improve your health.
What to expect
Beginners are advised to wear a thin t-shirt or to use a sheet to cover the mat, as the spikes take getting used to. When targeting the back, put the mat on the floor, a bed or yoga mat for more cushion. Lay down on the mat slowly and try not to squirm too much to avoid breaking the skin. Some people get benefits from sitting or standing on the mat.
The first 5 minutes are the hardest, while the body adjusts to the pressure points and spikes. As the skin warms and circulation is improved, stress, tension and pain are reduced. The mat becomes more comfortable.
As recommended, I started with wearing a t-shirt and placing a thin sheet to cover the mat that was on the floor. I rolled my back slowly onto the mat. It was very uncomfortable – frankly, it hurt. I barely made it through 5 minutes and never felt the release, probably because I didn’t stay down long enough. I tried it several more times and had slightly better results.
A friend of mine had been wanting to try a mat, so I loaned her mine in return for her review. She liked it right away. She’s been able to lay on it for 20 minutes and more, feeling relaxed and ready for bed. She doesn’t have particular health issues, other than the pervasive tensions of 2020, so there isn’t any specific pain relief to be reported. Standing on the mat was too intense and sitting didn’t work as well as laying on it. I’m sure she will continue to experiment with different positions, length of time and even time of day.
Dosha’s Acupressure Mat – $94.50
The Dosha mat is hand-made using a 100% eco-friendly coconut fiber pad and linen cover. The mat is 27” L x 17” W x 1” thick with 190 lotus flowers made of 4,750 tips that are “toxic-free surgical plastic and have been ergonomically engineered to have the greatest relaxation and healing effects”. They come in lavender and turquoise.
Dosha has a give-back program, donating 15% of their profit to “several non-profit organizations that work to provide exercise programs like yoga to youth in need”. I’ve reached out to the founder, Jessica Rose, who has been extremely helpful with my research. I recommend their FAQ page for additional information if you are considering purchasing a mat.
Dosha’s Copper Ring is a reflexology tool for a massage for the hands – $5.50
The Shaktimat is similar to Dosha, made with quality materials. They are hand-made in India, by 72 women in an all-female purposed company. Skaktimats accessories include pillows and copper rings. A nice feature of the Shakti mat is that they come in 3 different levels. Starts at $59.00
The mats below can be found on Amazon and are less expensive. They do not refer to the quality materials or craftsmanship that both Dosha and Shakti are proud of.
Nayoa has high ratings on Amazon. It has 6,210 points and includes a pillow $39.97
The HemingWeigh has 8,820 “needles” and includes a pillow and carry bag. It is highly rated on Amazon. The description does not include any information about eco-friendly materials or manufacturing process. At $29.99, it is the lowest price acupressure mat I found with the most positive posts.
The Bottom Line
There are many acupressure mat success stories on the internet. People have been relieved of pain, improved their quality of sleep and reduced other ailments. Some even use the treatment time to meditate. As with many things, some people love it more than others. I’m glad I got to try it and even happier that my friend loves it.
* Dosha provided me with their mat for this article, we did not receive any additional compensation for it.