We have a bit of a different blog post from us here. Instead of the usual effective rehab exercises and advice, we decided to take a close look at a product that is regularly used to ease pain and stress. Over the last 1-2 years Acupressure mats, often known as Shakti mats, have massively increased in popularity so we decided to find out whether it is all smart marketing or a great drug-free pain reliever.
Acupuncture and acupressure have been used for over 2000 years in eastern medicine but only for the last hundred years have they been embraced among Western health professionals and with this, has come research into just how acupressure and acupressure mats help.
What is an Acupressure Mat
An acupressure mat is a soft foam mat covered in hundreds and thousands of little spikes. It is effectively a modern-day bed of nails with spines placed specifically really close together so that you can lie your bodyweight on them without breaking the skin. There are Shakti/acupressure mats for the body, neck, back and even feet and can all be a little painful to start with. For most people starting using an acupressure mat with a shift on is a good idea.
Conclusion: They are spiky, uncomfortable mats that make you feel surprisingly good afterwards. We are going to go into how this is possible, below.
What exactly do Acupressure Mats do
There are a lot of claims out there (as for most things) as to what acupressure mats help. These range from stress and pain relief to improved healing and weight loss! So we thought we would go through all these claims and try and figure out from the evidence and a little research, how and if acupressure mats do help.
Sorry, it’s a large list:
Stress Management: True.
One of the biggest effects acupressure has is to stimulate the release of serotonin. By applying pressure, this stimulates our body into releasing this in a way that is basically our body going “ow that hurts, I’m going to make myself feel better”. serotonin is our bodies feel-good hormone and plays a big part in regulating mood and decreasing stress and anxiety.
Blood Circulation: True
Local blood flow is stimulated to the area. Similar to if you get a massage and afterwards the skin is redder, the tissue warmer etc. This can help to boost healing and recovery, particularly after running or sports events.
Digestion: True. Serotonin comes in again here as serotonin play s a big part in your digestive system. It helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting.
Weight Loss: Maybe. Through improving digestion and gut movement as above, the release of serotonin stimulated by acupressure mats could help regulate body weight
Nausea: False. It depends which part of your body is stimulated but acupressure can actually cause nausea at times
Cold/Flu: Unsure – we could not find any solid research that shows that acupressure mats help recover from sickness but some acupressure points in the neck can help with sinus relief etc.
Constipation: True. Serotonin again, as per above helps regulate gut movement so could definitely help with this
Brain Functions: Through the release of serotonin and natural painkillers, brain function is improved in terms of mood at least. Acupressure has been shown to help with depression and mental state.
Pain Relief: True.
The other big way that acupressure mats, acupressure and acupuncture help is in their pain relieving ability. After 15-20 minutes of lying on an acupressure or shakti mat, our spinal cord and brainstem release natural opioid painkillers
Relaxation: Give both mental and physical relaxation to your body
Examples of research:
This study shows how acupressure is more effective than muscle relaxant therapy from headaches, and this lasted for 6 months
This one shows that acupressure can give an immediate improvement in anxiety levels
Acupressure Mats are not something to be ignored if you have chronic pain, stress and anxiety, trouble sleeping or want to do everything you can to help recover faster. There is definitely some scientific reasoning and research backing up its use although not all research is conclusive or agrees.
Try it for yourself, and let us know!
We got our acupressure mats from the Acupressure Mats store HERE