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Can Acupressure Mats Really Help With Chronic Pain?

February 02, 2023

If you want the benefits of acupuncture without the needles, acupressure mats might be the answer.

“Acupressure is a non-invasive technique that uses physical pressure points to help the chemicals that controls pain within the body,” says Stefanie Bourassa, sports medicine clinical program director and motion lab manager at the Hartford HealthCare Bone and Joint Institute.

Acupressure mats – most of which look like yoga mats covered in small plastic spikes – may offer similar results at a lower price point from the comfort of your home.

Interested? Bourassa shares a few tips to get you started.

> Connect with the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute

Benefits of acupressure

In acupressure, a trained expert applies manual pressure to specific parts of the body to help relieve chronic pain.

“Acupressure is shown to be effective in treating pain, headaches, sleeping disorders and gastrointestinal diseases as well as promoting general relaxation,” Bourassa says.

Picking the right mat

Everyone has specific pain management concerns, choosing the mat that best services your needs will help you in the long run.

Bourassa suggests considering:

  • A spike size and mat style you’ll find most comfortable.
  • The size that’s best for the area you’ll be using it.

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Getting started

Before you start, it’s important to understand how to use an acupressure mat. Bourassa suggests:

  • Choosing the best surface to put the mat on, starting on a bed or sofa and eventually moving the mat to the floor.
  • Starting with a soft layer between you and the mat to help adjust to the feeling of the spikes.
  • Evenly distributing your weight on the mat to avoid injury to specific points.
  • Using the mat consistently and moving yourself carefully to best meet your body’s needs.

“Use the mat in small doses to maximize the effects as adjust to how it hits the trigger points and releases. It’s like trying on new shoes,” Bourassa adds.

Results may take time

“We mostly recommend medium- to long-term use of acupressure mats. Some people have trouble adjusting to them. It can take time to relax into some of modes of pain management,” Bourassa says.

If using the mat is too much or you’re not finding the relief you need, it may be time to see someone who specializes in pain management.