My shoulders and neck have been killing me for months now. Even though I go for tuina massage regularly for pain-relief especially on my neck, the aches come back within a few days and it’s been getting extremely unbearable to the point where I can’t turn my head without wincing. It’s very frustrating, the pain puts me in a foul mood, and I’m actively looking for different remedies (cupping, more tuina, acupuncture, gua sha/meridian scraping, ion-charged necklace, switch pillows, etc).
Acupoint Mats sent me an acupressure set for review and even though I was skeptical about its efficacy in resolving my shoulder and neck pain issues, I am game to try it out considering this is a DIY solution that I can apply at home any time.
An acupressure mat, is a self-applied acupuncture-based device made of a foam rubber pad covered in cotton sacking and embedded with hard plastic disks containing protruding spikes. It’s not actual acupuncture, but the theory is the same. Using nothing more than your own body weight to create pressure, this acupressure mat stimulates pressure points on the body to promote circulation of blood, release muscular tension and enhance the body’s life force energy to aid healing (aka “chi”). It’s the same concept as acupuncture, which I get regularly.
The origin of this mat is inspired by a bed of nails, literally a piece of wood with nails embedded into it and pointing upwards – a part of Indian mysticisms hundreds of years ago, used by ancient gurus and yogis for healing and meditation.
The acupressure set consists of a mat and pillow. When I first opened the package, I was horrified at how sharp the spikes are. It’s going to be torture, I thought. Then again, there are no needles and all I need is my own body weight so I am in control of the pressure and pain level.
At first I cautiously laid out a piece of sarong over the mat to create a buffer. I lay on this for a few seconds and immediately decided I couldn’t feel a darn thing, so I flicked the sarong away and lay down on the mat as is (with clothes on). I didn’t use a buffer for the pillow and just let my neck get in direct with the spikes. Now, for the first couple minutes it was uncomfortable and prickly on my neck. My back was okay. Twenty minutes passed by, I decided I had enough and after I got up, my neck and back felt so much better for the rest of the afternoon. The tension and tight muscles in my neck and shoulders were gone, as though I’ve just gotten a massage.
How’s it that I’d never used this product before!?! Oh right, coz it looks rather gimmicky. But it worked wonders for me! It felt so great that a few hours later, I decided to use the pillow again while sitting against my living room chair and watched a bit of telly. Man, it hurt so good but I was suuuuuper relaxed afterwards. This is going to get addictive very quickly.
This acupressure mat is inexpensive and hygienic since the fabric is completely removable + washable. The inside of the acupressure mat and pillow is a soft, thin foam so the mat in particular is very flexible and it can be laid out on the bed, for example. That’s something I’m going to try one night – sleep on the acupressure mat, as this product induces so much relaxation I’m hoping it can keep my insomnia at bay.
See that above? These spikes stimulate more than 8000 acupressure points. It helps to increase blood circulation and once you get over the initial prickly discomfort, you will feel very relaxed. Btw, my back has very high tolerance for pain – hence, my love for gua sha.
I can see other ways to use the acupressure set too. For example, I can drape the mat on my office chair when I work and put the pillow on the floor for me to rest my feet on. Double duty as back massage and foot reflexology! Laying the mat on the floor while I do a headstand on it would be a bit much though, right? Okay, that’d be too hardcore I think.
The only downside of using this mat for me is the unusual hunger pangs I felt after. I also got very thirsty after and had to drink a lot of water, which I guess makes sense since there’s improved blood circulation and raised “chi” levels so drinking plenty of water helps to purge the toxins out of my system. But the hunger!? I can’t find an explanation to that and god forbid, using this is going to improve my appetite. Oh wait, maybe that’s not such a bad thing for me…
Either way, I’m now a fan of this acupressure mat and pillow.