Even the most intense health gurus look at them in fear — acupressure mats can appear pretty intense. With sharp plastic points sticking out all over the front side, acupressure mats may look like instrument of torture to the untrained eye. But if you’ve ever had a deep-pressure massage, you’ll be familiar with the benefits of this type of practice. These mats simulate the relaxing and pain-relieving benefits of an acupressure massage, Healthline explains.
A technique used to stimulate blood flow, and thus the movement of energy throughout the body, acupressure promises to alleviate aches and pains that range from digestive discomfort to old sports injuries. According to the outlet, those who use the mats report reductions in symptoms from things like headaches, back pain, neck stiffness, stress, insomnia, and tension across the body. Unlike an acupressure treatment, these mats stimulate multiple points at once, rather than working out a specific area like you would with a practitioner. So, you’ll likely feel stimulation in various areas of your body along with different pressures throughout, depending on how you lay on the mat.
A few studies show that the mats are helpful in pain reduction, but there is little evidence available for widespread benefits. Nonetheless, there’s certainly a reason why so many people want these scary-looking devices — they can work.
Acupressure mats take time to get used to
For your first acupressure mat experience, don’t lay down on bare skin. Since the spikes are pretty hard, beginners should wear a shirt or put a towel down to ease the pressure, Mindbodygreen notes. These points may feel so sharp that it’s best to even avoid pressing too hard with your fingers at first. Begin by only laying on your mat for a few moments at a time when you first start, and make sure to breathe slowly to ease in.
By breathing this way, “It helps create a general relaxation and improves blood flow locally to the areas that are restricted — and that also eases tension and pain,” physical therapist Erin Weber tells the outlet. Start out with sessions of a few minutes on the device and go from there, just making sure not to go over 30 minutes. An added benefit? You can use these mats for issues with foot pain, back issues, and headaches when you need relief.
But those with sensitive skin, poor circulation, or any open wounds should steer clear, Weber explains. Pregnant women should also avoid the usage of acupressure mats, and people with high or low blood pressure should talk to their doctor beforehand, per Healthline. Otherwise, take your time working the mat into your routine, and see how it helps!
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