At a first glimpse, an acupressure mat looks very intimidating. The spiky surface and pointy edges feel uncomfortable to touch. It’s no wonder why so many people consider them dangerous and painful. The question is, are acupressure mats safe?
I know how scary they look, but I’m here to tell you that they are not as terrifying as they seem. I’m using one at home, and I’m doing quite well. To clear out any misconceptions, I’ve decided to talk about the safety of acupressure mats and whether or not everyone can use them. I also compiled handy tips from experts you should know about. So, let’s get right to it.
My Experience With Acupressure Mats
One year ago, I contacted an expert massage therapist who specializes in acupressure and other Chinese treatments in my local area. I work as an accountant, and I spend most of my time in an office chair. Of course, because of it, my back is killing me.
I tried several holistic modalities, but the problem was so overbearing that I had to get a massage every single day.
As you may already know, Chinese treatments don’t come cheap. So, I asked my therapist if there was something I could use at home. That’s when I got introduced to the acupressure mat. The most bizarre-looking mat on the market, if you ask me.
What Did It Feel Like?
You probably know that every acupressure mat is covered with plastic spikes while the covering is often made of cotton.
The first time I stepped on it, it felt as if I was standing on a pile of fire ants. “Comfy” is the last word I would use to describe it. But, since I got it for the back, I decided I should lie down and check it out.
That’s exactly what I did. I laid down on the back and exposed my bare skin to the acupressure mat. The weight of my body pressed against the spiky surface. I could feel the pointy plastic spikes reaching for my skin, but it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be.
On the contrary, it felt more like an unusual massage than a typical skin pinching. I relaxed my body and maintained the same posture for about 15 min. Once I stood up, I immediately noticed a difference. The tension in the muscles dissipated, and the knots felt a lot smoother.
At first, I wasn’t really sure if the relief was a result of the mat or just the endorphins in my system once I relaxed. Besides, I had a lot of questions. Also, I wanted to know whether or not it can work so quickly for my pain and discomfort. So, I decided to do a little digging and find out more about it.
Are Acupressure Mats Safe?
According to Dr. Poojah Shah, a certified doctor in integrative medicine, what most people don’t realize is that there are multiple acupressure points scattered across the entire body. These points follow the meridian pathways to balance out the energy in the human body.
Some researchers even estimate that these meridians are closely related to the myofascial tissues. When we add pressure to the points, we automatically stimulate them, which is why we tend to feel a sense of relief.
That’s the exact reason why acupressure experts use needles during treatment. They add pressure to strategic locations on the body and release tension in the muscles. An acupressure mat works in a similar way. But, instead of stimulating one acupoint at a time, it stimulates all the points it comes in contact with at the same time.
It is a safe object to use since the spikes are positioned very carefully and precisely across the entire surface. This kind of positioning ensures proper nerve stimulation and pain relief.
Carolyn Shannon Sullivan, another expert at acupuncture treatment, supports the same beliefs. According to her, there aren’t any studies that point out the negative effects of acupressure mats. That would only mean that the objects are safe to use for adding pressure to soothe the soreness. While there isn’t enough research to confirm their efficiency, they are a practical option for at-home treatment.
How Long Should You Lay on an Acupressure Mat?
When I told my friends I was using an acupressure mat, the first question that popped to mind was how long I used it. I know that not everyone can handle the spikes with ease since the sharpness is pretty uncomfortable to deal with.
Before I used the mat, I consulted with my therapist. I was advised to use it at least 10 to 20 min a day if I want to make the most of it. If you, too, want to maximize its effect, you shouldn’t spend less than 10 min at a time on your mat. Instead, you should be persistent and try to cope with the discomfort if you really want to feel an effect.
Can You Use an Acupressure Mat While Pregnant?
Overall, massages are deemed safe for pregnant women. In certain conditions, they might be even recommended for alleviating common issues and health problems during pregnancy, like inflammation or back pain.
But, using an acupressure mat may not be a good idea. When a woman is pregnant, there are a couple of acupressure points that shouldn’t be pressed. They are connected to the stomach meridians and could interfere with the pregnancy.
Also, if the woman is at risk of preterm birth or has any pregnancy complications, she might be advised to stay away from such treatments altogether. Since the mat presses every point it touches, it might even press the acupoints it shouldn’t. So, it is a good idea to avoid the mat while you are pregnant.
Or, if you really need to use one, consult with a doctor first. Ask them whether or not it would be a good idea to use an acupressure mat with your current health state. They will advise you on the correct approach.
Who Can’t Use an Acupressure Mat?
An acupressure mat is not for everyone. Experts suggest if you have an open wound or a scratch on the skin, you should wait for the area to heal before exposing it to the pointy spikes. Here is a list of the people who shouldn’t use an acupressure mat:
- Individuals with poor circulation
- Anyone with a metabolic condition
- People with thin skin
- Toddlers, children, and babies
How to Clean Acupressure Mat
Because of the spiky surface, a lot of people have trouble cleaning the acupressure mat. Here is how I learned to do it the right way. Follow the steps below, and you will have a clean mat in no-time.
- Fill a bathtub with warm water and a bit of soap (I prefer to use laundry soap).
- Open up the acupressure mat.
- Grab the mat by the sides and turn the cover inside out.
- Tuck the cover as you roll it down the foam to reveal the inside of the mat.
- Submerge the mat and the cover individually and scrub them well.
- Let both pieces air dry.
What Acupressure Mat Should I Try?
There are tons of acupressure mats on the market, and it can be a little tricky to get the right one. I prefer the NAYOYA Acupressure Mat.
It is a super popular product for a good reason. It’s built to last and is excellent for any kind of pain relief. It might even help with soothing sciatica symptoms. The spikes are dense, but not too hard, that will cause discomfort. Plus, it is excellent for beginners.
The mat cover is pretty durable, as well. You can wash it multiple times without worrying that the color will fade away. Overall, it’s an excellent option for relaxation and muscle recovery. But, most importantly, it comes with a carry box, so that you can take it anywhere with you. It is a practical solution for day-to-day use.
If you are not sure if this is the right pick for you, I’ve decided to list all the pros and cons you might find handy.
- Immediate results
- Efficient for pain, stress, and tension relief
- Convenient for transport
- Made of top-quality material
- Easy to get used to
- The foam can have a formaldehyde smell
Overall, I think that acupressure mats can be pretty useful for stress and pain relief. They might not be for everyone since the spiky surface takes time to get used to. But, with regular use, they will grow on you. You just have to be patient and keep trying to use them until the skin becomes accustomed to it.
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