I’ve been suffering from back pain for many years. My back pain is mainly caused by long periods of sitting at my computer, not enough time to exercise, and driving. It doesn’t matter what I do, after a long day at work, my back really aches – even if I sit up straight or use my standing desk.
However, because I don’t want to take medicine for my back pain, I’ve researched and tried lots of different natural ways to relieve back pain. This has helped me control and alleviate my back pain, stopping it from becoming a serious problem. I still get back pain, but I’m managing it so it doesn’t stop me living life to the full.
Most recently, I have been using an acupressure mat and I’ve found it to be very effective and beneficial.
What is it
An acupressure mat is a foam pad covered with small, hard pressure nodules which, when you lie on them, put pressure on your nerves and muscles providing a sort of massage. This helps increase circulation, decrease tension, and reduce pain.
There are lots of different acupressure mats available, and some are better than others, but they all work in much the same way. I’ll tell you about my favorite products in this article.
But, and this is the question that everyone asks me, does using an acupressure mat help reduce back pain? The short answer is yes, it does! Keep reading to find out how my acupressure mat has helped me.
The benefits I experience
I have found that just 15 minutes of using my acupressure mat helps relieve my back pain. It’s easy to use, and, because it’s portable, I can take it everywhere I go – even to work or on vacation. I really love my inversion table (the model I use and why in detail here), but it’s not exactly portable, and I can’t take it with me when I travel.
However, I can carry my acupressure mat wherever I go. Brilliant!
Because using an acupressure mat is so simple and easy, you can use one anytime you need a quick back pain fix. I often use mine for a few minutes after a long drive, or during my lunch break at work. I also use it before bedtime as I find it really relaxing. I’m sure it’s helping me sleep longer and deeper.
With no need to spend time setting it up, it provides instant relief, and they’re cheap enough that you can buy a couple of mats so you can keep one at work and one at home. All you need to do is put it on the floor and lie on it. That’s really all there is to using an acupressure mat.
Since using my acupressure mat regularly, I have noticed:
- Less back pain
- Less muscle tension
- Fewer headaches
- Better circulation
- Deeper, more restful sleep
While I love my acupressure mat, on its own it’s not quite enough to totally relieve my back pain. Because of this, I combine my acupressure mat with several other back pain-relieving strategies
- 5 Minute Stretching Routine for Back Pain Relief (5 Min Video)
- Daily 15-minute walk
- 5 Minute Core Exercises for Back Muscle Strengthening (6 Min Video)
- Inversion Table Routine for Back Pain: 5 simple exercises
How I use my acupressure mat for back pain relief
I’ve been using my acupressure mat for a few months now, and I’ve gotten very used to how it feels and how it affects me. In fact, when I loaned my mat to a friend, they asked me so many questions about it because I didn’t tell them much about how it would feel. I’d almost forgotten what an unusual sensation lying on an acupressure mat was!
Luckily, I keep a back-pain journal so I can evaluate how effective things like inversion therapy (my guide to inversion therapy here) and stretching are for managing my back pain.
The following section is a direct extract from my back-pain journal so you can read for yourself what using an acupressure mat is like, and how it might help you.
I’ve just bought a new back pain reliever – it’s an acupressure mat (the model I bought and use explained here). It looks kind of weird but, from what I’ve read, it could really help me. Acupuncture worked for me but I don’t like all those needles, so I’m going to give this mat a try instead. Here goes!
When I first used the mat, it wasn’t what I would call uncomfortable, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable either. Because I am new to using an acupressure mat, I covered the plastic nodules with a thick towel and placed a cushion behind my head to reduce the pressure.
I think this was a good idea because my weight fully on the nodules might have created too much pressure, made me uncomfortable, and stopped me from using it again. It’s always better to start easy and keep at it than do too much too soon and then stop.
I put on some relaxing music, closed my eyes, and did my best to relax. I imagined I was sinking into the mat and let gravity pull me downward. I found that the deeper I exhaled, the more I relaxed, and the more pressure I put on the mat. After 20 minutes or so, I felt like I’d relaxed enough and my back pain had lessened. I actually felt a little drowsy!
Once I had stood up, I noticed I felt relaxed, and there was much less tension in my muscles and spine. I did, however, have lots of little marks on my skin from the plastic nodules, so I could see where they were putting pressure on my skin even through the towel.
I slept really well last night and I think part of this was because I was so relaxed having used my acupressure mat before going to bed. I hope this is a lasting side effect of using an acupressure mat as I often struggle with sleeping.
For today’s session, I used a folded towel instead of a pillow behind my head. I think this will be lower and more comfortable. I also used a thinner towel to increase the pressure on my back.
Once I was on my mat, I could feel the pressure had increased. It was not painful, but definitely more intense – like a firmer massage. I slowed my breathing and imagined melting into the mat. After just a few minutes I felt relaxed and I’m pretty sure that I fell asleep!
Afterward, my muscles felt relaxed and soft, and my headache was gone. My lower back felt pretty good before I got on my acupressure mat, but felt even better afterward. The plastic nodules really seem to help relax my muscles, and that is something I often find hard to do after a long day at work.
On a side note, I have some tiny marks on my skin from the acupressure nodules, but I don’t think these are serious or permanent, and other users have reported the same thing.
I was actually looking forward to lying on my acupressure mat tonight. After a long day at work and a long drive home, my back was aching, as was my head. I felt stressed, annoyed, and impatient, and really felt like I needed to relax.
Because I was in a hurry, I forgot to put a towel or a pillow on my mat and just got straight on it. At first, it was a little uncomfortable, but within a couple of minutes I relaxed and it felt fine. I pictured my muscles relaxing and the stiffness and stress leaving my body, and I definitely fell asleep for a few minutes.
I woke up, got up, and noticed that I felt much happier and more relaxed than I had 20 minutes ago. Both my back pain and my headache had all-but vanished, and my stress levels were down to zero. I’m looking forward to a great night’s sleep.
I have also noticed that the marks on my skin have now vanished. I guess my skin is getting used to my acupressure mat sessions!
In just three days, I’ve gone from being an acupressure mat skeptic to a fully-fledged disciple! The first session was a little uncomfortable, but I soon found that the more you relax, the more comfortable you get. If you stay tense, it hurts more. But, if you relax, you just melt into the mat and it’s really quite pleasant and enjoyable.
The mat has eased my back pain, helped me to de-stress, and also improved my sleep – all in just three days. I’m so impressed I’m going to take my mat to work with me tomorrow and grab a few minutes with it during my lunch break. I’m also going to take it with me on my trip this weekend – it’ll be perfect for using after the long drive.
Do acupressure mats work for weight loss and cellulite?
Some people have said that using an acupressure mat can help you lose weight and get rid of cellulite. While this might be the case for them, I can’t say that it helped me in this way.
After all, to lose weight, you need to eat less food and do some exercise to create a calorie deficit, which forces your body to use fat for fuel. Using an acupressure mat is very passive and relaxing, so there is no real way for it to help you lose weight.
However, an acupressure mat could help you lose cellulite. Cellulite is the buildup of toxins in your fat cells that give areas like your thighs and butt a dimpled, orange peel appearance.
Because acupressure mats increase circulation, they might help flush out some of these toxins and, providing you avoid re-toxifying yourself, this could lead to a reduction in cellulite. You’ll also need to include regular exercise (home workout routines here) and a healthy diet to rid yourself of cellulite – and I recommend meal replacement shakes for an easy way to lose weight – How to lose weight with meal replacement shakes here.
Do acupressure mats work?
In my experience, and the experience of many, MANY other users, acupressure mats definitely work. They can be used to effectively treat a wide variety of issues including circulation problems, nerve pain, back pain, stress, and insomnia.
Acupressure is nothing new; it’s an ancient form of medical treatment that originates in China. Similar to acupuncture, acupressure stimulates and unblocks nerves to restore normal metabolic function.
While the nerves stimulated are superficial, i.e. they are in your skin, those nerves then run deep inside your body. For example, the nerves in the skin of your lower back affect your kidneys, which is why acupressure can help enhance the health and function of your urinary system, reducing kidney pain.
There are also lots of nerves in your feet and, in Chinese medicine, each nerve affects different parts of your body. While most people lie on their acupressure mats, you can also carefully stand on one to stimulate these nerves and improve the function and health of many of your body’s organs – through your feet! This is an effective way to treat headaches and definitely worked for me.
I use my acupressure mat at work when I’m traveling, and any other time I have back pain or need to relax, but don’t want to use my inversion table. I have found that using my acupressure mat is:
- A good way to reduce stress
- A good way to promote deeper, longer sleep
- A natural way to reduce back pain
- Enjoyable and can be done almost anywhere and anytime
- A quick way to alleviate headaches
- Time efficient – just 15-20 minutes works wonders!
I’ve tried lots of different ways to manage my back pain, and my acupressure mat is one of the easiest and most convenient. Because you just lie on it and relax, you don’t need to put your workout clothes on, warm up, or get sweaty; you just lie on it, letting the mat and gravity do the work.
If you are looking for an easy way to treat not just back pain, but reduce stress, sleep better, and increase circulation, an acupressure mat will help.
Best Acupressure Mat
In my quest to find the best, natural ways to beat back pain, I’ve tried lots of different things. Inversion table works really well, but are often expensive and not very portable (find more about inversion therapy on my guide here). They are, however, ideal for home use.
I’ve also explored stretching exercises (video 5 minutes stretching routine for back pain relief here) and core exercises (5 core exercises for back pain relief – video here), both of which can definitely help with back pain.
To reduce back pain at work, I’ve investigated and written about the best way to set up your workstation – crucial if you spend a lot of time sat at a desk or computer.
One of my most recent back pain discoveries is something called an acupressure mat which is a foam pad covered with plastic nodules that stimulate nerves and relax muscles to ease back pain, increase circulation, and reduce stress.
Before I bought my current model, the Nayoya Acupressure Mat (available at amazon.com), I used a few different ones which I borrowed from friends or tried out in stores. While they were all pretty good, I found that the Nayoya was best for me, and that’s my number one recommendation if you are looking to buy an acupressure mat for your own use. I like this mat because it’s good quality, easy to use, and excellent value for money.
You can read more about my choice of acupressure mat and a good alternative in my article Best Acupressure Mats.
Would you like to learn more or Do you have any question?
Please drop me a line if you’d like to know more about using an acupressure mat.