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Do Acupressure Mats Work? What The Studies Say

Do Acupressure Mats Work? What The Studies Say

 DO ACUPRESSURE MATS WORK?

If you’re sceptical about the strange spiky mats you’ve seen all over your instagram feed, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re keen to give one a try for that pesky back ache, but before you invest you want to know, do they really work??

Anecdotally, the answer is Yes! We’ve gathered hundreds of reviews from happy Ajnamat customers who report better sleep, reduced pain, and increased energy. You can read those here.

As for scientific research, while there isn’t a large body of literature on acupressure mats, there have been many small scale studies conducted. We’ll dig into the results of those later on, but first……

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What is an acupressure mat?

Acupressure mats are designed to produce similar results as acupressure massage. Each mat contains several hundred non toxic plastic points that apply pressure to acupressure points on the body. They can be used nearly everywhere, including on the back, neck, head, hips, hands, and feet.

From traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupressure is a technique used to release blocked chi (Qi), or energy, throughout the body. Once these blockages are removed, and energy can move freely again, many important functions can be restored.

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What do acupressure mats help with?

If you are dealing with back pain, headaches, or stress, an acupressure mat could help. They can be an effective and all-natural way to ease your symptoms from the comfort of your home. This can be a great alternative to in person treatments which tend to be pricy and inconvenient.

Many Ajnamat users swear by the positive results, and as you’ll see in the studies below, the reported benefits are substantial.

Some Ajnamat Benefits include:

  • Pain management
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased
  • Better mood
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved skin tone
  • Reduced celulite
  • Improved circulation
  • Faster recovery from exercise

 

 

Research Studies Evaluating Acupressure Mats

Below are five studies that have investigated the therapeutic benefit of acupressure mat therapy.  

 

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The Benefit of a Mechanical Needle Stimulation Pad in Patients with Chronic Neck and Lower Back Pain: Two Randomized Controlled Pilot Studies

Link to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3446809/

The objective of this study was to determine whether needle pad stimulation (acupressure mat) affects self-reported pain and/or sensory thresholds in patients with chronic neck and lower back pain. The researchers followed 40 patients with chronic neck pain, and 42 patients with chronic back pain. Treatment involved the use of needle stimulation pad once daily for 30 minutes, for 14 days.

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Substantial potential for alleviating chronic neck and back pain
  • Increased pain threshold in individuals
  • Increased relaxation
  • A benefit of the pad is that it’s easy to use, safe, and does not require a therapist

 

Reflexo-Therapy With Mechanical Cutaneous Stimulation: Pilot Study

Link to the study: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233934675_Reflexo-Therapy_With_Mechanical_Cutaneous_Stimulation_Pilot_Study

This study reviewed the development of early Russian studies on a medical device that was developed to deliver skin stimulation to treat a variety of disorders, and also looked at the results of a pilot research program that was conducted at the Community Wholistic Health Center in Carrboro, NC. The study investigated the effects of acupressure mat treatment on patients after 2 weeks of regular use.

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • 98% reported pain relief
  • 96% reported improved relaxation
  • 94% reported improved sleep
  • 81% reported Improved energy

 

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Relaxing on a Bed of Nails: An Exploratory Study of the Effects on the Autonomic, Cardiovascular, and Respiratory Systems, and Saliva Cortisol.

Link to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21208128

This study investigated the subjective and physiologic response of 32 individuals lying on a bed of nails, called the Shakti-mat, and of listening to relaxing music and instructions for 20 minutes.

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Healthy participants were able to adapt to the induced pain of the bed of nails
  • Self-rated relaxation increased
  • Signs of increased blood circulation 
  • Slower heart rate

 

Does Relaxation on an Acupressure Mat Induce Beneficial Effects? A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study.

Link to the study: https://www.pagepress.org/journals/index.php/ams/article/view/ams.2011.e5/pdf_95 

This study investigated the effects of acupressure mat treatment on 36 participants using the mat for 15 minutes a day over a 3-week period.

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Reduced pain intensity
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved sense of well-being

 

Formal Clinical Trials on Acupressure Mats 

Link to the study: https://pranamat.es/Pranamat-ECO-clinical-studies.pdf

The purpose of this study was to determine the acute and long-term effects of 20-minute sessions of lying on an acupressure mat over a period of 30 days. Microcirculation and metabolic processes in the skin and back region in patients with spondylosis of the vertebral column were monitored during the study period. 

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Significantly increased local skin blood microcirculation
  • Increased local tissue metabolism
  • Reduced and demonstrated stable serum concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and growth factors after 30 days of regular treatment

 

 

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Research Studies on Acupressure

While the literature investigating the therapeutic benefits of acupressure mats is limited, there is an abundance of literature outlining the benefits of acupressure. Below some of the recent literature is summarized. 

 

Acupressure for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Single System Study

Link to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574337/

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of acupressure in treating a 54-year old male with a 20-year history of lower back pain. During the first phase of the study, the participant received conventional physical therapy treatment. During the second phase of the study, the participant received conventional physical therapy treatment in combination with acupressure.

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Reduced pain
  • Improved function
  • Decreased disability

 

The Efficacy of Acupressure for Symptom Management: A Systematic Review

Link to the study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154967/

The purpose of this review was to analyze 43 randomized controlled trials that investigated the effectiveness of acupressure for the management of various symptoms.

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Acupressure was effective in 16 of 23 studies for the management of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and chemotherapy treatment
  • Acupressure was effective in 9 of 10 studies for pain in patients with dysmenorrhea, during labour, and after trauma
  • Acupressure was effective in 4 studies for the management of dyspnea
  • Acupressure was effective in 6 studies for improving fatigue, and reducing insomnia

 

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Acupressure for the Treatment of Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions: A Systematic Review

Link to the study: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10582452.2012.673543

The purpose of this review was to evaluate 180 articles to determine the effectiveness of acupressure for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. 

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Acupressure is effective for the treatment of neck and lower back pain showing reduced pain and improved function

 

The Effects of Acupressure on Depression, Anxiety and Stress in Patients with Hemodialysis: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Link to the study: https://www.journalofnursingstudies.com/article/S0020-7489(14)00296-X/fulltext

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of acupressure on anxiety, stress, depression, and general psychological distress in 108 patients on hemodialysis. The participants in the acupressure group received their normal hemodialysis treatment combined with 15 minutes of acupuncture, three times per week for a 4-week period, while the control group only received their normal hemodialysis treatment. 

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • The acupressure participants scored significantly lower on the Depression, Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21), and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28)
  • Acupressure reduced depression, anxiety, stress, and general psychological distress in hemodialysis patients

 

Effect of Acupressure and Trigger Points in Treating Headache: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Link to the study: https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X10007634

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of acupressure for chronic headaches compared to muscle relaxant medication. 28 participants were included in the month long study, 14 were randomly assigned to the acupressure group and 14 were assigned to the muscle relaxant medication group. 

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • 1 month of acupressure treatment is more effective than 1 month of muscle relaxant treatment for patients suffering with chronic headache
  • The positive effects remain for 6 months after treatment

 

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As Acupressure Decreases Pain, Acupuncture May Improve Some Aspects of Quality of Life for Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis

Link to the study: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2005290115001144

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure intervention in the treatment of women with primary dysmenorrhea by researching using a systematic review of 8 studies with a meta-analysis of 4 studies. 

The results of the study revealed the following:

  • Acupressure significantly reduced pain associated with primary dysmenorrhea

 

 

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