Welcome and thank you for stopping by. I am super excited to share this post with you. Today I am going to answer the question “what is an acupressure mat,” the benefits, uses, and finally get into some product reviews. So, there is a lot to cover!
I recently purchased a Nayoya mat and I love it. Toward the end of this post, I will walk through my experience, but I want to explain the product and how to use it first, so you have some perspective.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Click here for details.
What is acupressure?
Before we answer the big question, let’s talk about acupressure itself. Acupressure is based on traditional Chinese medical theory in which special acupressure points lie along meridians in your body. A meridian is a channel. This means that the body is lined with pressure points, and when these pressure points are stimulated, it releases the body’s natural pain relieving hormone.
Acupressure is often thought of as acupuncture without any needles. See this article for further explanation of acupressure.
What is an acupressure mat?
Acupressure mats are one way to apply acupressure therapy. As I mentioned, people think of this as acupuncture minus the needles. These mats are made of fabric, a cotton material, and have thousands of hard plastic acupoints that mimic a bed of nails.
These sharp little plastic points are where the magic happens. Each acupoint is attached to a hard plastic circle (button). These points protrude, and the whole thing actually looks like the soft spikes on the bottom of golf shoe. Each button has multiple acupoints, so in total, there are thousands of these spikey little guys all over the mat.
Some mats come with a pillow, so not only can you use the mat for your back, but also use the pillow for your neck, or other ways, which I will explain later.
How does an acupressure mat work?
So the mat itself works like this. When you lay on the mat, those hard plastic acupoints that I mentioned earlier come in contact with your body’s pressure points. When the pressure points in the body are stimulated, muscle tension can be released. Also, the area will experience increased blood flow, which can provide a kind of warm, relaxing sensation to that area.
This whole process can be really beneficial for dealing with tension, muscle fatigue, back pain, and headaches, just to name a few ailments.
The general idea is that increasing blood flow to an area, along with releasing tension will help promote healing. Some people use these mats after a workout, or just to relieve the tension of your day.
How to use an acupressure mat
You want to make sure you are using the mat correctly. The hard plastic points are pretty sharp, so you don’t really want to put too much pressure on any specific area by itself. Otherwise, it might hurt, or you could even puncture the skin. When you lay down, you are spreading your weight equally across the mat, which will apply even pressure. By applying even pressure, it is much more comfortable, and it is the proper way to use an acupressure mat.
To target your low back, try bending your knees, or use a pillow under your knees.
For best results, it is recommended you use the mat on bare skin. Please use your best judgment with the bare skin part. Of course, you can keep your shirt on as well.
I would say if you are a beginner, keep your shirt on, and see how it feels first. You may even want to try laying on a towel. As you gain experience and decide you want more, you can go shirtless.
When you start using the mat, it may be uncomfortable until you get used to it. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to kind of get “warmed up.” After you get through the first few minutes and it starts to feel good, then it’s up to you how long you want to stay there. Twenty minutes is a good time to shoot for.
The deal with acupressure mats is that any average Joe can use the mat to stimulate your body’s pressure points, kind of like acupuncture therapy. It’s kind of a one-size-fits-all approach to acupuncture. You lay down on the mat, and you can hit a lot of the pressure points in your body. The downfall is that it might be difficult to target certain, specific areas. This is more of a general, overall approach.
An acupressure mat can be used from head to toe
I just said that it might be hard to target specific areas, but now I will contradict myself to an extent. A better way to put it is you may not be able to target the specific pressure points all up and down your back. But the mat can be used in some instances to target specific muscle groups.
For instance, place the mat under your hamstring if you are doing a hamstring stretch on the floor. You can wrap the mat around your leg, and get the pressure point release benefits in your quad, or your calf. You can use the same technique to wrap it around your arms. Basically, use the mat with a wrap and target areas that are sore.
If the mat comes with a pillow, you can use the pillow while you are lying down, and get the benefits in your neck and shoulders as well. You can use the pillow for your feet if you want to do some reflexology.
The mat itself can also be used for your feet. Some people will walk in place on the mat; you get a really nice foot massage.
Another great option is to fold the mat in half and use it as a lumbar support for your lower back. This will not only provide support to the lumbar region, but you also get the pressure point release benefits.
What are the benefits of an acupressure mat?
The concept behind the mat is to provide pain relief and relaxation by stimulating the pressure points in your body. Again, the big idea is acupuncture without the needles, and just about anyone can do in the comfort of your home, or where ever you choose to use the mat.
A lot of people have said great things about these mats, and have had success in alleviating pain. Pain relief and relaxation would be the benefits of using an acupressure mat.
Enhance your Shavasana
If you practice yoga, you may be able to incorporate it there also. At the end of your yoga session, place the mat under your back and do your corpse pose on top of the mat. I don’t know how this would work with a happy baby pose since you would be rounding you back, and not have your weight distributed evenly. That may be uncomfortable with the acupoints, so be careful with that one.
Where to use the acupressure mat
Most people use the mat on a hard floor for about 20 minutes. You can lay the mat on the floor, with the pillow and just lay on your back (shirted or shirtless, the choice is yours). Some people use them on the couch, propped up while reading, or taking a nap. Others will use them in bed and just fall asleep. As I mentioned before, you can use them as a lumbar support. So, use it at work, to provide some relief from the grind, while you are still in the grind.
Some folks have also used the acupressure mat in conjunction with a yoga mat, for added support. If you happen to be in the market, I’ve got you covered. Check out my post on best yoga mats for 2018.
When should you use it?
That is really up to you. There are different mats, and they recommend using them daily. So, if you have the time and are feeling like you need it, go for it. Just listen to your body. Some people use the mat for 20 minutes; others will use it for up to 40 minutes. If you are in bed and you are comfortable with it, you may just fall asleep.
A word of caution
If you have any medical conditions, you should consult your doctor before using this product. You should really ask your doctor before you engage in any treatment you want to try, for any medical condition you may have. The warnings on these mats often include (but is not limited to) verbiage about blood disorders, skin issues, and pregnancy among other things. Seriously, if you are uncertain, please check with your doctor.
Other benefits acupressure mats can provide
Some people use these mats specifically for sleeping better. You can get really relaxed laying on the mat, and that may work to help you get those zzz’s we all need. Just the overall feeling of relaxation has helped a lot of people calm down and relax, which is never a bad thing.
Now that I have walked through all of that, I will review some of the different mats available today.
Nayoya Back and Neck Pain Relief – Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set
The Nayoya Acupressure Mat has 7,992 Acupoints for hitting just the right spot. You can enjoy natural pain relief without expensive trips to the chiropractor, acupuncturist, and masseuse. The mat measures 16 inches wide by 26 inches long.
As the title indicates, this mat comes with a pillow as well. You can use the pillow in conjunction with the mat, and feel the benefits of acupressure therapy in your neck and shoulders, as well as your back. Some people use the pillow as a way to massage the feet as well.
The pillow itself has 1,782 acupoints and will help with tension headaches as well as shoulder and neck pain. Personally, I think this is the best acupressure mat.
Interestingly, this set can be used for headache relief, but not how you might think. There are actually two ways to work on headaches.
- Stand barefoot on the mat, using the principles of reflexology on the pressure points of your feet, to help with headaches.
- Using the acupressure neck pillow to stimulate the pressure points on your head.
You can hand wash the cover of the mat with a small amount of soap and warm water. NEVER put the cover in a washer or dryer. You will have to take the cover off of the padding before you wash it. Make sure to dry it thoroughly before you put it back together.
There is a model available without the pillow as well. With this model, you can use a rolled up towel, or a pillow to put under the mat, to rest your head on if you choose to do so.
- Comes with the mat and pillow
- A carry bag is provided
- The mat and pillow are portable so you can take it with you, or just take one of the pieces
- This may take some getting used to, and you may have to work up to using it on a consistent basis
- It’s not machine washable
- Only available in one color
Bed of Nails, Green Original Acupressure Mat
The Bed of Nails mat has 8,820 “nails” to reach more pressure points on your body. The mat measures 16.5 inches wide by 28.5 inches long. It also comes in three different colors, black, green or pink, so you can choose the one that is right for you. It also comes with a bag to store, or travel.
The one thing it does not come with is a pillow. If you want a pillow, it is available to purchase separately.
If the pressure is too intense to start, you can remove the pad and use the cover itself against a couch cushion, or in bed, or whatever else you may want to lean against. This is a great way to start if this is new to you. You are leaning against sharp, spiky things so there may be a bit of a learning curve.
As with all of these mats, the reflexology function of standing on the mat with your feet is a great method for treating headaches.
See the video below for cleaning instructions. They show cleaning the mat in the shower and hanging to dry.
- More “nails” than the Nayoya model
- Easy to clean
- Portable and comes with a travel bag
- Available in three colors
- Doesn’t come with a pillow, you can purchase separately
- It gets pretty expensive if you purchase the additional pillow
Spoonk Acupressure Mat
The Spoonk mat is a little different in that it comes as a three-piece combo set. The three pieces are:
- One large mat
- One travel size mat
- Carrying bag
The large mat has 6,210 acupoints and is 26.6 inches long by 15.7 inches wide. The travel size mat is 13.8 inches long by 15.7 inches wide.
The travel mat doubles as the pillow, which makes this setup unique. You just roll the mat up and it will velcro straps to keep it in place. You can also use the travel mat for your feet. Just put on a pair of socks and stand on it. The travel mat has a self-carrying strap for easy transport. You can also use the travel mat behind you back, as a back support, which offers the pressure point treatment in addition to plain old lumbar support. This mat combination is really versatile and effective.
Cleaning the mat is easy. You can remove the foam pad from the cover and hand wash the cover in warm water with mild detergent. Do not use a washing machine or dryer. Hang it up to dry. You can store the Spoonk by either rolling it up and using the carry bag, or you can hang it by the mat tabs.
- Three-piece combo set
- Comes in two colors, Magenta, or Pagoda Blue
- Very versatile with the travel mat
- As is the case, it may take some time to get used to
HemingWeigh Complete Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set
The HemingWeigh mat is on the less expensive side compared to the other mats on the list. The mat measures 29 inches long by 17 inches wide. This mat is equipped with 8,820 contact points, which is definitely a lot. Given that it is longer than the other mats, it makes sense that there would be more contact points.
The HemingWeigh Acupressure Mat is available in three colors, black, purple, or green, so that is a decent amount of color choices. I really like the fact that this is a set and comes with a mat and a pillow. I think the pillow offers a lot of value and I am glad to see they have included that.
You will like the pillow for several different reasons, first and most obvious is that you can put the pillow under your neck when you are lying on the mat, on the floor. Second, you can use the pillow as foot massager if you want to. There are some reflexology benefits, to using these contact points on your feet. Another thing you may want to try with the pillow is to use it as a lumbar support. Depending on your back, this may be a good option.
Overall, this is a solid mat at a very competitive price.
- Available in three colors
- Comes with a pillow and a carrying bag
- It has more contact points than other mats
- There is no mention of how to clean the mat, so I would play it safe and hand wash the cover and hang to dry
ZenGuru Best Acupressure Mat & Pillow Set
The ZenGuru mat and pillow set comes in three different color options, pretty comparable to what we have seen so far. The mat measures 26 inches long and 17 inches wide. There are 6,210 contact points on the mat itself and 1,782 on the pillow. The pillow is 14 inches wide and about 6 inches deep. I think having a pillow is such a great addition to these mat sets.
One added feature that ZenGuru has built into this mat is magnet therapy. They have place magnets strategically on the mat to target the neck, spine and lumbar areas. Some people really love the magnet therapy and think it is a great addition to the mat.
This set comes with the mat, pillow and a carry bag. One unique feature of the bag is it has a reflexology reference chart on the back. So this reference chart tells you which parts of the foot effect certain other parts of the body. For instance, I know people use the mat to stand on, and this can help with headaches.
One really interesting thing that Zenguru offers, separately, is a U-shaped pillow, with the contact points. So, a neck pillow like you would use for traveling but equipped with contact points. Pretty cool!
- Three color choices available (black, green, blue)
- Reflexology reference chart
- Comes with mat, pillow, and bag
- The magnet therapy may not be good for some people, so pay attention to that
- Takes time to get used to it and may be uncomfortable to start
Pranamat ECO Therapeutic Manual Massage Mat
This mat is definitely the most expensive mat on the list, by far! This mat is 28.7 inches long and 17.7 inches wide, making it pretty large. It does have some unique features.
First of all, this mat is made with natural, environmentally-friendly products. The cover is made from 100% linen which is gentle on the skin. The filler cover is 100% un-dyed cotton material. The filler, or pad, is 100% coconut fibers, for a natural filling.
As they say, the devil is in the details. The contact points on this mat are lotus flower shaped, which is pretty cool. The entire mat has been designed with the environment and nature in mind. The bottom of the mat also has a decorative floral design.
Again, this mat is definitely more expensive than the others, but people who use absolutely love it. It has 221 lotus flower massagers, with over 5,000 points.
To wash the mat, remove the inner stuffing and wash the exterior, linen cover by hand. Never put the cover in a washer or dryer. This can damage the massage points.
- Larger mat than most on the list
- Made from all natural materials
- It’s decorated well, not overly done
- Does come in other colors
- Higher end mat with a different look and fee than the others
- It’s an expensive mat
- Does not come with a pillow. You can purchase a pillow separately and their pillows are an actual pillow, not just a neck roll.
My personal experience with an acupressure mat
I recently purchased the Nayoya Acupressure Mat. So far I love it. I have had back problems for many years. I have tried a lot of different products. This mat definitely helps me to relax and rejuvenate.
I originally tried the mat with a t-shirt on, and I ended up just using it on my bare skin. It didn’t really take me any time to get used to the mat, except for the pillow. Some people have said that they have used a towel or a shirt initially to get started since it was a bit painful. This wasn’t an issue on my back.
The pillow did take some getting used to, it was uncomfortable at first on the back of my head, and neck area. After lying on the pillow for about 5 minutes, I started to get used to it.
I really like to step on the mat. I wear socks and it feels really good. I walk in place and that works well for me. I also notice my low back is sensitive to the contact points. Granted, I do pull the waist of my pants down a bit, so I can get the far low back area. That definitely is more sensitive, but certainly not painful at all.
So, that’s my experience, I love it and use it just about every day. It’s a nice way to relax, but you have to make time to do it.
Acupressure mat buyers guide for 2018
Now I want to discuss some items to think about when you are looking to buy an acupressure mat.
Features: Most of these mats are pretty straightforward, it’s a bed of nails in a portable mat. The features you would want to look for are the number of contact points, does it include a pillow and carry bag, is it washable, etc. The basic function of the mat is going to be the same, but what other features do you want. If the mat doesn’t come with a pillow, is that something you really want to add or not.
Budget: There are a lot of choices for these mats, and the prices can vary. Make sure you have a budget in mind and stick to it. Really look at what you are getting for the price. If you want the mat to include a pillow, some sets come with a pillow and some don’t. If the mat doesn’t come with a pillow, but it is offered separately, keep that in mind when it comes to your budget.
How do you wash it? This is something to keep in mind. It seems pretty consistent across the field that you don’t want to put these mats in the washer or dryer. This can damage the contact point buttons. Hand washing seems to be the way to go. So, this is just something to keep in mind when you are considering buying an acupressure mat.
Warranty: This is one item people often overlook. Is the company going to stand behind their mat? Definitely, check out the warranty and see what they offer. Do they charge a restocking fee if you don’t like it? What if the product fails? What happens if one of the contact point buttons falls off? Just be mindful of the warranty.
Customer service: I really like to deal with companies who offer excellent customer service. It is really nice to call, or chat with a customer service rep and know that they value your business and have your interest in mind. This is definitely a driving factor when I make a purchase. Even if it’s a small dollar amount, I like to know the company will take care of me.
Okay, so we covered a lot of ground in this post. We discussed acupressure mats in detail and went through some product reviews. I hope you have a better understanding of these mats and the benefits they can offer.
To recap the basic idea behind the acupressure mat is to provide some pain relief and relaxation. This is a more affordable way to get some of the benefits of acupuncture, without the cost of treatments, oh and the scary needles. You can use this mat just about anywhere, and it is portable enough to take it with you. Take it to the beach, yoga class, work, just to name a few place you can use it.
Please let me know if you have any further questions, or if you would like to leave a comment below, please do so. I will get back to you just as soon as I can.
Thanks for stopping by!