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If you need some back or neck pain relief and have considered acupuncture, you may want to try an acupressure mat first.
An acupressure mat is not only much cheaper than acupuncture, but it’s also less invasive and doesn’t require an appointment — and it can give you an idea of whether or not acupuncture may help your body. Some people say they can help with pain, or if you’re just looking for some relaxation, it could help you unwind after a long day. Some people even report that the mats make them sleepy, which helps them get a good night’s rest.
Want to try one? This ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set on Amazon is currently on sale for $21.95 and comes with a mat for your body and a pillow for neck support. With cover material made from 100% cotton, the mat comes in 14 different colors. This product description says it’s is designed to reduce muscle tension and back pain by releasing “endorphins that block pain,” and that users should simply lie on the mat for 10-30 minutes a day to get its benefits.
Even if you don’t have chronic pain issues, the makers of these mats say the acupressure points are designed to stimulate nerves and improve blood circulation, which can increase energy and aid in muscle recovery. This could make it a good idea for people that are active or those that sit at a desk and have tight muscles.
Be aware, however, that it is not like getting a relaxing massage and it may not actually feel “good,” especially the first time you use the mat. After all, the mat has a whopping 6,210 acupressure points, while the neck pillow has 1,782; it may take some getting used to.
There’s little research on whether acupressure mats actually work, but anecdotally, many people who own them believe they’re effective: With more than 41,000 reviews, the ProsourceFit acupressure mat and pillow set has a total of 4.3 out of 5 stars, and more than 26,000 people have given this set a full 5 stars. Many customers note that it does what it says it’ll do. Some said they use it every night before bed and find that it helps them sleep.
One reviewer who gave it 5 stars jokingly called the item “clearly evil but extremely effective,” noting that many of their friends have also tried it.
“At least 4 of my friends who have tried mine end(ed) up buying one,” they wrote. “Even people who think it looks terrifying have found it remarkably soothing.”
Another 5-star review says the mat is excellent for relief from aches and holds up well if taken care of properly. This user said the mats make great gifts.
“My husband often gets stress-induced back pain and random back pain from a car accident that happened over 10 years ago. He’s found that using these mats really helps him release the stress and relax and helps significantly with the pain,” they wrote. “He’ll often stand on it while watching TV, lay on it on the floor or in bed and he’ll even fall asleep on it.”
Because everyone’s body is different and has different needs, a few customers did not find the acupressure mat helpful, saying it simply didn’t work for them. Many negative reviews come from customers who tried it once, found it uncomfortable, and did not try it again. So keep in mind that while it may initially feel unpleasant for some, you might want to try it more than once.
If you want to try acupressure, but are looking for something different, you can instead buy acupressure patches, which use magnet therapy to provide pain relief.
This 50-count box of patches from Alsten costs $14, but you will need to use 3-4 on and around each affected area, so be aware that you won’t get 50 uses from one box. Made with medical-grade adhesive plasters, the patches are breathable, elastic and waterproof. You can wear them for days at a time.
Or, if you’re nervous about trying acupressure, you may want to consider trigger-point massage balls first, like this Ivy’s set for $11.50.
The set includes a peanut ball, a spiky ball, a hand exercise ball and a carry bag. The balls are all designed to help with muscle relaxation, acupressure, plantar fasciitis, hand exercises and more.