Acupressure and acupuncture are both alternative medicine techniques that stimulate acupoints in the body. Acupuncture uses needles whereas acupressure uses firm pressure.
Going to an acupressure practitioner isn’t always possible, and at home use of acupressure mats and pillows can help with many different health conditions.
The pressure points are found throughout the mat, and some of them correspond with acupoints in the body.
By using your body weight against the points, you can improve circulation, relax muscles, heal sports injuries, improve blood flow and digestion, and even boost energy levels. The biggest advantage is the release of endorphins and other brain chemicals to alleviate pain.
Benefits of Acupuncture Mats
Acupuncture or acupressure mats stimulate a person’s blood flow and releases endorphins. Both help with many health problems.
The increased blood flow improves circulation, relaxes muscles, and helps heal sports injuries. Better blood flow also means better digestions and higher energy levels.
The release of endorphins blocks pain signals from the brain, so acupressure mats help alleviate everything from headaches to back and neck pain. More endorphins also boost your mood, reduces anxiety and helps with weight loss.
The cost of treatment is low, there are few side effects, so treatment can be used long term.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat?
Some experts recommend a warm shower before using a mat. Place the mat on the floor or on a couch, bed, or chair. Lie, sit, or rest a painful body part on the mat for five minutes to start and work your way up to 20 to 30 minutes once or twice per day.
While having bare skin against the pressure points works best, you may want to start out wearing light clothing until you get use to the "sharp" feel of the pressure points.
Your own body weight applies the pressure when you rest on the mat, but you can also wrap the mat around you and use your hands to apply pressure to the points.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat for Sciatica?
Lie on an acupressure mat with your lower back centered on the surface. Start with a few minutes at a time. You can also spend time sitting on the mat to relieve hip and buttocks pain.
Often, adding exercise on the mat can speed the results. While lying on your back with the pad under your tailbone, raise your pelvis slightly and bend each leg, one at a time, bringing your knee towards your chest.
Then try two legs together. Repeat each five or ten times.
When sitting up, put your legs in a butterfly position with your feet together and your knees out to the side. Rock gently in all directions to stimulate the gluteus muscles and nerves.
Do Acupressure Mats Work?
In traditional acupressure, a practitioner uses their hands or fingers to apply gentle, firm pressure to specific places on your body.
The pressure points are located along pathways in the body and stimulating the nerves at these points releases endorphins and other natural chemicals that work as natural pain relievers.
Instead of going to an acupressure clinic, you can lie on an acupressure mat with its hundreds of pressure point tips.
Some of the tips on the mat will be in the right places to stimulate the nerves to increase blood flow and release pain reducing brain chemicals.
Studies have shown and many experts agree that acupressure mats can be a great addition to other therapies.
How Often Should You Use an Acupressure Mat?
Use an acupressure mat at least once per day, but twice per day is better for most people. Start with short sessions of 5 or 10 minutes.
Once your body is more accustomed to the sharp sensation, increase by 5 minutes a day until you reach a maximum of 30 minutes.
Using the mat more than twice per day is okay, but your skin may become bruised or irritated.
Best Acupressure Mat for Sciatica, Lower Back Pain & Neck Pain
#1) Best Economical: ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set - The ProsourceFit mat is larger than average for more body coverage and has a lower cost. The 15 ¾" x 25" size give your whole back therapy at once.
Features & Pros:
• The mat and pillow are made from 100%, high-quality cotton with plant-based materials for the inside.
• The 15 ¾ x 25" mat and 14 ¼" x 4" pillow provide almost 8000 stimulation points to increase circulation and unlock pain relief throughout your body.
• The mat can be folded to use on individual body parts like feet, shoulder, or neck.
• Choose from seven fun colors, orange, red. burgundy, green, gray, blue, or black.
• The larger surface area mean larger people can get their whole back treated at once.
• This one doesn’t come with a carrying bag.
• The maximum number of stimulation points make it painful to use at first.
"Everyone says it and its true. When you first lay on this, it is uncomfortable. After 30-40 seconds, it is VERY uncomfortable. BREATHE. RELAX. HOLD STILL. Focus elsewhere, because in a couple of minutes the pain disappears. Again, like others describe - the pain turns into a spreading warmth and all the tension will slide right out of your muscles. Listen to a book on audible for 20 min and try not to fall asleep."
#2) Most Popular: Kanjo Premium Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set for Back Pain Relief & Neck Pain Relief - The Kanio has custom designed, flower shaped stimulators that ensure maximum coverage and superior pressure point stimulation. This product is both FSA and HAS eligible.
Features & Pros:
• Both pillow and mat are made from premium, 3.5 pound, high density memory foam that conform to your body shape.
• The 10.5" x 18" x 10.5-inch mat comes in five colors, sapphire, navy, amethyst, onyx, and periwinkle.
• The 100% cotton linen cover can be removed, and spot cleaned.
• The custom designed, flower-shaped stimulators are BPA free and ensure maximum coverage.
• The pillow and mat fit into a convenient, drawstring carry bag for easy transport.
• FSA and HSA eligible.
• The mat is smaller than some and might not work well for larger people.
• The flower-shaped stimulators take some getting used to.
"I have had back pain for over 6 years. I have had injections and taken steroids. Used the pillow originally and it helped so much that purchased the mat to cover more of my back and I was amazed."
#3) Best Quality: Anja Acupressure Mat And Pillow Set - Natural Organic Linen Cotton Acupuncture Mat & Bag - The Anja Acupressure mat and pillow set are organic and ethically and sustainably produced in India. Employees are well paid and well treated at the factory and all the materials are sustainable.
Features & Pros:
• The cover is made from natural, organic linen cotton and the filler is coconut based.
• The mat and pillow conform to your body shape for maximum therapy results.
• The 28.7" x 17.7" mat has over 7000 ergonomically engineered, mandala stimulation spikes.
• The cover is a cotton mattress protecting material.
• There are two levels, Ecolux for more experienced and Ecolite for beginners.
• The mat and pillow come with a handy carry tote.
• The packaging is completely biodegradable.
• There aren’t any color choices. These are always black and gold.
• The price is higher than average.
"I have planter fasciitis in my right foot and heel. I cannot walk barefoot without hobbling I stood on the mat for five minutes (Barefoot. I have tough feet) and was able to walk without shoes and no pain! I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. I am a believer in acupressure, as I use it for my sciatica in my leg from time to time. (Ear pressure points) I wasn't 100 percent sure on the mat helping my feet, but thought, "Well, if it doesn't work I can always return it." It works and I'm keeping it forever!!! I was not paid to write this. I am just a regular customer who was looking for a miracle. I found it!"
#4) Best Acupunture Mat for Full Body: Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set with Bag - Large Size 49.2 X 16.9 - This mat is the largest one of the group, a full 49.2 inches long, meaning your entire torso and even some of your legs fit on the mat. The pressure tips are slightly rounded and a bit less sharp.
Features & Pros:
• The mat is 49.2 inches long and 16.9 inches wide.
• The mat and pillow come in a convenient carry bag with a shoulder strap.
• These come in six colors, gray, blue, green, black, purple or orange.
• The cover is 100% cotton.
• The mat has 6930 pressure points and the pillow 1782 to relieve muscle strain, reduce toxins, and release endorphins.
• Manufacturer warns against people with high blood pressure or heart conditions from using the product.
• Because of the larger size, it’s less convenient for travel.
"This extra long mat is fabulous. My husband wanted more coverage than the little mats gave, this one delivers. The pillow is firmer than others as well which is a plus. Definitely recommend."
#5) Best Travel Option: NAYOYA Neck and Back Pain Relief - Acupressure Mat and Neck Pillow Set - The NAYOYA is smaller which makes it great for travel and easy storage. The mat is only 9 inches x 15 inches and rolls up easily to be tucked into your luggage.
Features & Pros:
• The smaller sized mat, only 9 inches X 15 inches make this a great one for travelers. Use it on the plane, tuck it in your luggage.
• The set comes with a matching pillow for your head, neck, or feet.
• The box with handle is great for closet or under bed storage when you’re not traveling.
• The mat has 6210 acupoints and neck pillow 1782 for pressure point stimulation that will provide therapeutic pain relief.
• Manufacturer recommends beginners use their product while sitting on a couch and more advanced users on a hard floor.
• The mat and pillow come with a lifetime guarantee.
• The smaller size might not work as well for entire body relief.
• There’s no carry bag.
"My husband and daughter suffer from chronic lower back pain and have found some relief by using this for half an hour each day. I have also used it for headache relief. Also I sleep better after using this for twenty minutes each day."
#6) Most Popular: The Original Shakti Acupressure Mat - The Shakti is popular partly because you have a choice or multiple levels, so the mat is appropriate for most users. Choose from a light, original, or advanced number of stimulation points.
Features & Pros:
• The three levels, light, original, and advanced have 8000, 6000, and 4000 points respectively. If you are a beginner and haven’t used an acupressure mat before, you can start with the light version.
• The mat is made in India with certified organic cotton and safe certified inks.
• The Shakti workplace is ethical and employee supportive. Materials are all sustainable.
• The 15.8 inch x 29 inch size is ideal for most people. It’s large enough to treat a large body area.
• The individually clipped discs conform to your body for maximum therapeutic effect.
• The signature spikes are made from first class ABS so they will not dull over time. They are attached without glue, so the mat is skin safe.
• The lite level has 8000 points, the original 6000 and the advanced 4000. The first comes in yellow, the second green, purple, pink, orange and the third purple.
• No pillow with this mat.
• No carry bag.
"I was skeptical for a long time, but my wife bought this and I have tried it. Not only is it relaxing, but it has actually fixed my lower back pain which had been with me for quite a while. I won't pretend that there's no discomfort in using the mat, but it's a lot less discomfort than you would expect and is well worth it.".
Frequently Asked Questions
Can an Acupressure Mat Be an Alternative to a Massage?
While having an expert give you a massage will usually do more for you as an individual, because the masseuse can interpret your body tension and address it, acupressure mats can help between sessions.
If for some reason, you can’t get your regular massage, using the mat will help keep you from developing tight spots..
What Surface Should I Put the Mat On?
The harder the surface under the mat, the sharper the points will feel and the better they will do. When you first start using a mat, you might consider using a softer surface until your skin and body get used to the sharp points.
You could even put the mat against the back of a couch or soft chair and lean back on it from a sitting position. That means your entire body weight isn’t being used.
Once that gets more comfortable, lie on the mat on a bed or couch. Work you way up to placing the mat on the hard floor.