Acupressure is an ancient healing treatment. This is a less invasive treatment compared to acupuncture that assists mobilization the body’s flow of energy, known as chi and relieving chronic pain. There are specialists in acupressure who can push on various parts of your body to improve the flow of chi 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 work on the principle of Acupressure, but also aim to stimulate the production and release 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 circles, made from durable ABS plastic, contain about a dozen spikes. The plastic spikes are sharp enough to bring deep pressure though should not pierce your skin. The circles are evenly spread out on the mat allowing even distribution of pressure of the spikes across your body providing adequate support as you sit or lie upon the mat.
The advantage of an acupressure mat compared to seeing an acupressure specialist is that you can receive gentle acupressure simply lying down on a mat in the comfort of your own home. Another advantage of having an acupressure mat at home is that it is more cost effective and convenient than booking appointments. It’s simply and easy to use your mat when you feel a 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 at 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
Beginners - Start with sitting on the acupressure mat on a chair or the couch for 10-15 minutes to get used to the feeling of the acupressure points.
Intermediate - Try lying on the acupressure mat and pillow on the couch or on 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 sensations in your hips, back and neck, as you body warms from the increased blood flow to those areas.
Advanced - Place the mat and on a hard floor and lie directly on top of it while spreading your bodyweight 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 are for faster relief of stress or pain. You can use your mat up to 35 minutes. Build up to the advanced level and use regularly 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. It is not recommended to sleep on the mat.
For headaches - Stand barefoot on the mat for up to 5 minutes initially, with practice you can stand on the mat 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:
Should not to be used by children under 7 years old.
Children over 7 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 on the mat as to avoid unwanted scratches from the spikes.
House of Health recommends you consult your doctor before starting any alternative self-treatment.