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October 6, 2022 — 23:02 PM
Body aches and pains are nothing new, but research shows that they’ve become increasingly apparent over the last several years. The transition to a work-from-home setup has led to even more hours of sitting, oftentimes in not-so-ergo-friendly positions.
Luckily, there are ways to combat these woes—and acupressure is one of them. If you’ve explored Traditional Chinese Medicine (or spent any time on TikTok), you may have already been introduced to acupressure mats as an affordable-yet-effective method for reducing aches and pains. If not, today’s your lucky day.
Acupressure mats can also reduce stress, relieve headaches, help you sleep better, and improve your overall well-being. Thanks to the growing popularity of these mats, there are a ton of options available on the market. The not-so-silver lining? This plethora of choices can make it difficult to know which one is right for you.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of acupressure, and to discover our picks for the best acupressure mat to fit your specific needs.
An acupressure mat, sometimes referred to as a shakti mat, is a padded, spiked mat that applies pressure to your body in order to stimulate specific acupressure points and improve circulation, by releasing blocked or stagnant Qi (energy)—similar to how acupuncture works. Unlike acupuncture, though, an acupressure mats does not puncture the skin and can be used at home.
These mats are typically made of cotton, with small plastic spikes to apply the pressure, and they often come with a small pillow, too. You can use an acupressure mat in a number of ways. Most commonly, people will lie on their mat on the floor, but the mat can be placed on other surfaces (such as your desk chair) for use throughout the day.
While they’re fairly new on the scene, the concept of these mats is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has been utilizing the healing benefits of acupressure for thousands of years.
“Acupressure mats use a combination of heat and pressure (in the form of small plastic spikes) to stimulate the body’s natural healing energy. The idea is that this will soothe and relax your muscles, ease tension, reduce stiffness, and increase blood flow—all without you needing to take time out for a full-on treatment by an acupuncturist,” explains Jamie Bacharach, Dipl.Ac., Licensed Medical Acupuncturist and Head of Practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem.
According to Bacharach, other common benefits of acupressure mats can include improved sleep, reduced headaches, loosened muscles, and reduced sciatica pain.
How we picked:
Quality & Materials
As always, we prioritized products made with more eco-friendly, organic, and sustainable materials, whenever possible.
When effective, acupressure mats are a worthy investment for many people. That said, we know everyone’s budget is different. We included options at a variety of price points.
Most of the best acupressure mats will also come with a pillow for additional acupressure points, and a carrying case for easier portability. We paid attention to the accessories each mat includes.
We read hundreds of reviews on each product, in order to provide a clearer picture of how a variety of people feel about these mats.
“Acupressure mats tend to work best for people who are suffering from mild-to-moderate muscle or nerve pain and discomfort, excess stress, insomnia, and other similar disorders,” says Bacharach. But, they may not be for everyone. “If you aren’t sure if an acupressure mat is appropriate for you, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider.”
Acupressure mats are not advised for people who are pregnant or nursing, have a skin infection or an open wound, or have an existing heart condition.
Are acupressure mats any good?
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that acupressure mats can offer a variety of health benefits, including reduced pain and stress levels, and better sleep. However, not everyone will experience the same benefits.
Which acupressure mat brand is better, Spoonk or Nayoy?
Spoonk and Nayoy both offer highly-rated acupressure mats. However, Spoonk is made with eco-friendly and non-toxic materials, making it the preferred option for many consumers.
What is the best time to use an acupressure mat?
These mats can be used any time of day, but Bacharach specifically emphasizes their impact before bedtime—especially if you are seeking those sleep-related benefits. “As acupressure mats are designed to relieve pain, tension and stress, they should be used close to bedtime, in order to lead to optimal sleeping conditions,” she advises.
If you struggle with back or neck tension, lack of sleep, stress, or anxiety, it’s worth trying an acupressure mat to relieve these symptoms throughout your day or before bed. Just remember to start slow, because they can feel sharper than they look. Gradually increase your time on the mat, and you’ll be reaping the mental and physical benefits of acupressure in no time. And if you’re looking to really improve your sleep experience, check out one of our best pillows for neck and back pain.