Acupressure mats are great for relieving stress and tension.They also make great gifts for friends and family. But how do you get started using one?
There are many benefits to using an acupressure mat. From reducing anxiety to increasing focus, these mats pads help you get the most out of your day.
In this article, I'll discuss the benefits of an acupressure mat and share my top tips for how to use an acupressure mat effectively.
What is an Acupressure Mat?
An acupressure mat is a cushion that's designed to be placed on a flat surface, like the floor or couch. They are about half the size of a yoga mat, covering your back. The mat has several stimulators (pointy plastic spikes) that are designed to relieve pressure points on the body.
Acupressure has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to balance energy flow, Qi (chi), throughout the body.
If energy isn't able to flow efficiently, pressure builds in certain areas of the body, then they become blocked and cause tension, and pain. By stimulating pressure points, the blockage can be removed for pain relief.
How Do Acupressure Mats Work
The acupressure mat stimulates the pressure points as acupuncture does, but it's non-invasive and doesn't require any needles.
The stimulators on an acupressure mat work by applying pressure on the various pressure points on your back, neck, and other parts of your body. This increases circulation and improves the flow of qi through the body.
What are the Benefits of Using an Acupressure Mat?
Acupressure and an acupressure mat offer a number of health benefits.
Benefits of Acupressure
Acupressure is a form of alternative medicine that uses pressure points along the body's meridians to promote healing. Acupressure is used to treat a variety of conditions and offers a number of benefits across the entire body, including:
- Relieving anxiety and stress.
- Reducing headaches and migraines.
- Improving blood flow and circulation.
- Improving sleep quality.
- Increasing focus and concentration.
- Improving moods.
- Boosting immunity.
- Decreasing inflammation.
Relieving pain, muscle spasms, sore muscles, and muscle tension.
Benefits of Acupressure Mats
Acupressure mats are meant to provide similar results to acupressure therapy and massage, so the mats will provide many of the same benefits.
But there are also specific benefits provided by the pressure points on the back, including relief from:
- Back pain
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Muscle tightness in the back, shoulders, and neck
- Sciatica pain from lower back to hips to legs
Who Should Avoid Using Acupressure Mats
Acupressure is generally safe and low-risk of any side effects, but acupressure mats should not be used in certain situations. Here are some key precautions:
- Don't use an acupressure mat if you are pregnant.
- Don't use it if you have any open wounds as the stimulators can cause the wound to expand or lead to an infection.
- Keep the mat away from babies and small children.
Talk to your doctor before using an acupressure mat if you are in any of these situations:
- If you have low or high blood pressure.
- If you have poor circulation.
- If you're taking prescription medications.
- If you have a heart condition.
- If you have diabetes.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat
Using an acupressure pad requires little effort, but there are slight adjustments based on what areas you want to target.
The guides below will focus on using the Kanjo Memory Foam Acupressure Mat Set that comes with a mat and acupressure pillow for reduction in pain.
For clothing, it's best to use the acupressure mat with your bare skin. If you're a beginner though, you should wear a t-shirt or lay down a sheet or towel over the plastic stimulators. As you get more comfortable using the mat, you can use the mat with bare skin.
Lay the acupressure mat down on a flat surface. For comfortability, I prefer putting the mat down on the floor or bed. For floors, it's best if it's on carpet or rug, so the floor won't be as hard or cold.
If you only have hardwood or tile floors, you can first lay down a yoga mat and then put the acupressure mat on top. You can also place a pillow or cushion under your knees for support and for better access in targeting your lower back.
When lying on the acupressure mat, make sure you evenly distribute your weight across the stimulators on the mat. The stimulators are sharp, so don't press and focus your weight on a small area or they could pierce your skin.
Those are the general guidelines to using an acupressure mat. Let's take a look at ways to target specific pain and relief.
1. For Back Pain
Back pain relief is one of the most common reasons people get an acupressure mat. A mat will help to increase blood flow throughout the back to relieve tension and stress in the muscles. It can also help reduce muscle spasms and relax tight muscles.
To target back pain generally, follow these steps:
- Choose a comfortable flat surface, like carpet, bed, a rug, or a yoga mat.
- Lay the acupressure mat on the flat surface.
- Slowly lie down on the mat.
- Lay on the mat for 15-20 minutes to start. As you get more comfortable using a mat, you can increase your time up to 40 minutes.
You may feel slightly uncomfortable at first, as if it's a bed of nails, but this discomfort will subside shortly. You will start to feel warmth and slight pulsing as blood circulation increases across your back.
As you use the mat more, you won't feel as uncomfortable lying down. You will feel refreshed, relaxed, and energized after each session.
You can also target upper back pain and lower back pain by increasing pressure in those areas against the acupressure mat.
Upper Back Pain
To target the upper back more, you can increase pressure against the mat by increasing the height of the upper half of the mat.
Place a rolled up towel, a cushion, or pillow under the upper part of the mat. That will increase the pressure on your upper back and decrease the pressure on your lower back.
Lower Back Pain (Sciatica Pain)
To target lower back pain, including sciatica pain, you will need to adjust the natural curve of the spine to increase the pressure from the lower half of the mat.
You can put a cushion, a pillow, or a rolled up blanket under your knees to increase the height of your legs. This will also adjust your lower back against the mat and stimulators, increasing the pressure in the area.
The other option is to increase the height of the mat by putting a cushion, pillow, or rolled up towel under the mat. However, I don't find this as comfortable as supporting the knees with a cushion.
2. For Neck Pain
Neck pain is another common reason why people get an acupressure mat or pillow. People often experience neck pain because of poor posture, bad sleeping habits, or other injury.
To alleviate neck pain with a mat, you'll want to raise the height of the mat that supports the neck. Place a rolled up towel under the mat. Adjust your body downward on the mat, so your neck is resting on the towel bump of the mat.
Another option is to use an acupressure pillow. This is the best way to alleviate neck pain because you'll be able to more easily target the neck.
To use an acupressure pillow, simply place it under your neck. You can use the acupressure pillow and mat together as well.
The pillow can also help target upper shoulder pain, but depending on the curves of your shoulders, increasing the height of your mat may better target your shoulders. The key is to put pressure on them with the stimulators.
3. For Stress and Anxiety
Anxiety and stress are a couple of the most common reasons why people turn to acupressure therapy. An acupressure mat combined with deep, slow breathing will help relax the mind.
To effectively use the mat to relax your body and mind together, start by lying down on the mat as you regularly would. Then close your eyes, relax, and focus on your breathing.
This combination of acupressure and meditation for 20-40 minutes will help calm your nerves and relieve anxiety and stress.
4. For Better Sleep
If you're having trouble falling asleep or not sleeping well, try using an acupressure mattress pad. The stimulators on the mat will relax the mind and body before trying to go to bed.
To best use the mat for a better night's sleep, use it as part of your nighttime routine. When you're ready to lie down on the bed, first lay the mat down on your bed.
Then lie down on the mat, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths. You will start feeling relaxed like you would when you normally use a mat.
When you start to get sleepy, remove the mat and go to sleep. Make sure you do not fall asleep on the mat. Accidents can happen as you move around in your sleep.
Depending on the severity of your insomnia, it will usually be 20 minutes or more before your body will start relaxing to the point when you can sleep.
As you use the mat more and more, you'll be training your body to expect the mat as a signal that it's time for the body to relax and go to sleep.
5. For Energy
If you have low energy levels, you can use these products to boost your energy levels. Using an acupressure mat or pillow can give you energy throughout the day.
The key to getting an energy boost from acupressure is to limit the time you use the mat. Keep the time limit to 20 minutes max. Think of it like a 10 to 20 minute power nap to also feel refreshed.
When you go over 20 minutes, the body will start to go into a deeper relaxed state. Instead of giving you energy, this deep relaxation will actually make you feel tired.
6. For Feet
Acupressure mats can also be used for foot reflexology as the stimulator points will target points on the bottom of your feet massage.
To stimulate the points on the soles of your feet, simply stand on the mat. You can do one foot at a time if your feet are more sensitive. A better option is to use an acupressure foot mat.
As acupressure mats are made to lie down on, there are foot mats specifically made for the feet and to stand on.
The Kanjo Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Mat is a great product to use after a long day on your feet.
The Kanjo Acupressure Memory Foam Foot Mat is a better option as it's more versatile. It's made from the same materials as the Acupressure Memory Foam Mat, including the stimulators.
The memory foam makes it flexible to be rolled and folded to use on other parts of the body. For example, it can be rolled up to use as a pillow for the neck.
Another great option is the Kanjo Acupressure Foot Pain Relief Multi-Roller that will allow you to sit and stimulate the pressure points on your feet.
7. For Headache
Headaches are one of the most common health problems we face today. They're caused by many different factors, such as anxiety, stress, tension, poor posture, neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and lack of sleep.
Using acupressure mats and pillows will relieve the underlying causes and help to relieve migraines and headaches.
Lie down on the mat and focus on your breathing to relax your body, while also improving blood flow and circulation. Use the mat for up to 40 minutes to relieve your headaches.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat Final Thoughts
Using an acupressure mattress will help relieve pain, refresh your energy, and improve your overall health and wellness.
You don't need any special skills or equipment to use an acupressure mat. Simply follow the steps provided, and the mat will become your favorite tool for pain relief and relaxation.
For more flexibility in targeting more parts of your body, get the Kanjo Acupressure Mat Set that includes the pillow and mat together.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat FAQs
How Long Can I Use an Acupressure Mat?
Acupressure mats are best used for 15-20 minutes at a time when starting out. As you become more used to the spiky stimulators on the mat, you can use the mat up to 40 minutes each time. It's not recommended to go longer than that, nor to sleep on the mat.
How Often Should I Use an Acupressure Mat?
You can use an acupressure mat 3 to 4 times per day depending on your pain and how long the durations are. When you use the mat for 15-25 minute sessions, you can use the mat 3-4 times each day for pain relief. If you're using the mat up to 40 minutes per session, you should only use the mat 1-2 times per day.
What is the Difference Between Acupressure and Acupuncture Mats?
Technically, there are no acupuncture mats because acupuncture involves piercing the skin with needles. Acupressure and acupuncture are similar in that both apply pressure to points around the body to encourage energy flow, but acupressure does not pierce the skin. That is why acupressure mats are popular for pain relief. Acupressure can be self-administered, while acupuncture with thin needles piercing the skin should only be administered by experienced acupuncture practitioners.
Do I Need an Acupressure Pillow?
Acupressure pillows are designed to help relieve stress, neck pain, headaches, and more by stimulating pressure points on the neck, shoulders, and upper back. These locations are harder to access with a regular acupressure mat, so the pillow makes it easier to directly target those areas. If you commonly have headaches, neck pain, and stress, an acupressure pillow will provide effective relief.
- Awake and Mindful: https://awakeandmindful.com/how-to-use-an-acupressure-mat/
- WTHN: https://wthn.com/blogs/wthnside-out/acupressure-mat-what-is-it-and-how-do-i-use-it
- Mind Body Green: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/acupressure-mat-benefits-and-how-to-use-them/
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/acupressure-mat