Acupressure Mat – A Practical Guide To Pain-Free Life
As a runner, you likely have a whole arsenal of pain-relieving tricks up your sleeve that range from Epsom salt baths, foam rollers, massage guns, and good old-fashioned aspirin. However, your pain-relief rotation may be missing something: an acupressure mat!
Sure, they look more like the cause of one’s pain rather than the solution. But the practice of using acupressure mats or Shakti Mats provides a host of surprising pain-relieving benefits from lower back pain and even migraines.
If you are experiencing any pain in your body post-run and your Epsom salt baths just aren’t cutting it anymore, it may be time to give some Eastern medicine a try!
How Do They Work?
Acupressure is a method of massage pressure points on your body to alleviate targeted pain that ranges from headaches to upper back and lower back pain. Massaging these key acupressure points helps the energy in your body flow more freely and stimulates your body’s self-healing abilities.
When you go to a massage therapist, they will massage the areas giving you pain. Massage mats aren’t sentient (thank goodness!), so they work by stimulating all of your pressure points in hopes of hitting the one that is the source of your pain.
There isn’t a ton of scientific evidence hailing the effectiveness of these simple mats, but there is some.
One study found that 40 participants with neck and pack pain discovered a significant reduction in pain when used consistently for 14 days.
8 Acupressure Mat Benefits
If you find that your daily runs leave your hips and lower back in a world of pain, an acupressure mat is your best solution.
Runners found that these mats can help relieve tension and soothe aching muscles along their entire body when used daily. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but stick with it!
Other benefits of an acupressure mat include:
- Improved sleep
- Eases headache, migraine pain, or muscle pain
- Neck pain relief
- Boost endorphins
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased circulation/blood flow
- Improved digestion
- Back pain relief
How to Use an Acupressure Mat?
While you will feel some relief after one use, it’s essential to use your mat regularly to see long-lasting results. I recommend using the mat for at least 10-20 minutes a day when you start. While many users lay on their mat topless, I suggest wearing a t-shirt as you slowly adjust to the painful plastic spikes!
Overall, you should never lay on your mat for longer than 30 minutes at a time. While it won’t cause any damage to your muscle, stimulating your acupoints for longer may cause your skin to become inflamed or even bruised.
To gain the entire host of mind and body benefits from your mat:
- Treat this time as you would a hot bath.
- Keep the lights low, put away your phone, and free your mind of any distractions.
- For those 10-20 minutes, focus on your breathing and how your body feels.
4 Other Ways To Use Your Mat
While most users lay on their backs, acupressure mats work in a host of other ways.
Using acupressure therapy on other areas of your body can yield position results.
1. Stomach: Laying on your stomach may feel a little weird, but it can help boost digestion and even relief pain from menstrual cramps.
2. Glutes and Hips: If your glutes, hips, and hamstrings are humming after a brutal run, sitting on the mat and applying pressure to these areas provides more concentrated pain relief. Instead of laying on the mat, drape it over a hard chair (like a kitchen chair), and sit on it for up to 20 minutes per day.
3. Face: Yes, you can even use this mat on your face! Press the mat against your face with your fingers, hold it in that position for a few minutes, and then alternate to the next side. This method can help reduce jaw and neck pain and boost your complexion.
4. Feet: Your feet take quite a beating as a runner. Foot baths are nice, but stepping onto an acupressure mat is another great way to alleviate foot pain. Standing on the mat is a great way to boost circulation in your feet and can even help relieve pain from plantar fasciitis.
Potential Side Effects
The great thing about acupressure mats is that the side effects are often surface-level. If you have sensitive skin, the sharp spikes on the mat can sometimes pierce bare skin. To avoid this, lay down a towel on the mat or wear a thick sweater to gauge how your skin reacts.
There’s no way to adjust the intensity of the spikes, so sometimes, it’s almost like lying on a bed of nails; I highly recommend laying a towel down on the mat at first. You won’t get the intense benefits from the mat, but you can test how your skin reacts to the mat. If you want to reap the full benefits right out of the gate, I suggest limiting your time on the mat from 10 minutes to 3 minutes to see how your skin reacts.
Other than skin irritation, there is no evidence that these mats can do any real damage to your muscles or joints.
With very few side effects and a host of benefits of acupressure, an acupressure mat is a great way to boost recovery after a long run. The best part? You can get some of the best acupressure mats on Amazon for a super affordable price!
- The Benefit of a Mechanical Needle Stimulation Pad in Patients with Chronic Neck and Lower Back Pain: Two Randomized Controlled Pilot Studies, ,
- The Effectiveness of Acupressure on Relieving Pain: A Systematic Review, ,
- Effectiveness of Acupressure on the Taichong Acupoint in Lowering Blood Pressure in Patients with Hypertension: A Randomized Clinical Trial, ,
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