Fibromyalgia can be debilitating, leaving people feeling exhausted and in pain. While there is no cure for fibromyalgia, some treatments may help to ease the symptoms.
Acupressure mats are one treatment that has been gaining popularity as a possible way to help with fibromyalgia. But does it work?
Keep reading to find out more about acupressure mats for fibromyalgia.
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WHAT IS ACUPRESSURE?
Acupressure is an ancient healing treatment. Acupressure is a less invasive treatment than acupuncture that helps mobilize the body’s energy flow, known as chi, and relieve chronic pain.
Some acupuncturists can push on various parts of your body to improve chi's flow and lessen your perception of chronic pain.
WHAT ARE ACUPRESSURE MATS?
Wikipedia cites a Russian music teacher named Ivan Kuznetsov as the originator of today’s acupressure mat. Finding that only acupuncture would help his chronic pain, Kuznetsov created his own “bed of nails” as an acupressure device.
The spikes stimulate the production and release of feel-good chemicals such as oxytocin and endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain reliever.
Acupressure mats are thin mattress pads covered on one side with small circles or the more popular lotus circles. The rings, made from durable ABS plastic, contain about a dozen spikes. The plastic tips are sharp enough to bring deep pressure though they should not pierce your skin. The circles are spread out on the mat, allowing even distribution of pressure of the spikes across your body, and providing adequate support as you sit or lie on the mat.
The advantage of an acupressure mat is that you can receive gentle acupressure treatment by merely lying down on a mat. Another advantage of having an acupressure mat at home is that it is more cost-effective and convenient than booking appointments. In addition, it’s simple and easy to use your mat when you feel fibromyalgia flare developing, after exercise, or during times of stress.
Some people do feel some instant relief or distraction from stress, pain, or headaches. For others, it may not provide instant relief when first starting to use the mat. It could take a week or two, even before you feel comfortable using the mat. But with perseverance, you can find that regular use can decrease the severity of your fibromyalgia symptoms over time.
BENEFITS OF AN ACUPRESSURE MAT
Relief from fibromyalgia pain points
Relief from back and shoulder pain
Relief from headaches
Relief from stress and muscle tension
Improve blood circulation
Lower blood pressure
Increase energy levels
HOW TO USE AN ACUPRESSURE MAT
Beginner - Start with sitting on the acupressure mat on a chair or the couch for 10-15 minutes to get used to the acupressure points' feeling.
Intermediate - Try lying on the acupressure mat and pillow on the couch or your bed while reading or watching tv. You can now use your mat for 20-35 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, you may feel a warm, relaxing sensation in your hips, back, and neck, as your body warms from the increased blood flow to those areas.
Advanced - Place the mat on a hard floor and lie directly on it while spreading your body weight evenly across the mat. Due to the absence of cushioning due to the hard floor, there will be more direct acupressure point pressure on your back, resulting in increased circulation to the area for faster relief of stress or pain. You can use your mat for up to 35 minutes. Build up to the advanced level and regularly use if you suffer from chronic pain.
For Insomnia - Using the acupressure mat and pillow in the evening relaxes the body while promoting stress relief after a long day and prepares the body and mind for sleep. However, it is not recommended to sleep on the mat.
For Headaches - Stand barefoot on the mat for up to 5 minutes initially. Then, with practice, you can stand on the mat for up to 15 minutes. Using the principles of reflexology, standing on the mat should help alleviate your headache.
The following groups of people should avoid or be careful when using acupressure mats:
Children under seven years old should not use it.
Children over seven years old should only use the mat under adult supervision and medical consultation.
People with high or low blood pressure should first consult their doctor.
People with injuries should also first consult their doctor.
It's also important to be mindful of the sharp spikes when handling the mat or moving around to avoid unwanted scratches from the spikes. Consult your doctor before starting any alternative self-treatment.