Can Acupressure Mats Really Help Chronic Pain?


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

“Acupressure is a noninvasive technique that uses physical pressure points to assist pain-controlling chemicals within the body,” says Stefanie Bourassa, director of the sports medicine clinical program and manager of the movement lab at Hartford HealthCare Bone and Joint Institute.

Acupressure mats, most of which look like yoga mats covered in little plastic spikes, can offer similar results at a lower price from the comfort of your own home.

Interested? Bourassa shares some tips to get started.

> Connect with 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 has been shown to be effective in treating pain, headaches, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions, as well as promoting general relaxation,” says Bourassa.

Choosing the right rug

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

Bourassa suggests considering:

  • A toe size and mat style you’ll find most comfortable.
  • Whichever size is best for the area you will be using it in.

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

  • Choosing the best surface to place the mat, starting with a bed or sofa and finally moving the mat to the floor.
  • Starting with a soft layer between you and the mat to help accommodate the feel of the nails.
  • Evenly distribute your weight on the mat to avoid pinpoint injury.
  • Use the mat consistently and move carefully to best meet your body’s needs.

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

Results can take time

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

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


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