When a massage is not possible, an acupressure mat can deliver similar results. However, the scientific evidence on their effectiveness is limited.
An acupressure mat, also sometimes called a needle stimulation pad (NSP), is covered with hundreds of plastic nubs. These small bulges deliver pressure to parts of the body in contact with the surface.
In this article, we will look at some of the research on acupressure mats and determine whether they are useful for treating specific ailments.
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique. Doctors consider TCM a form of alternative or complementary medicine.
Acupressure therapy is similar to acupuncture, but acupressure mats do not contain needles or puncture the skin.
As with acupuncture, acupressure involves stimulating pressure points near the body’s meridian or energy lines to allow chi (Qi), or energy, to flow freely.
Acupressure mat manufacturers claim that their products can provide relief for:
Scientific evidence on the effectiveness of acupressure mats is limited.
The studies that do exist have small sample sizes, and most claims regarding acupressure mats rely on anecdotal evidence.
Even though little research exists on the benefits of acupressure mats, they are an inexpensive, safe, and easy-to-use tool.
People who have a fear of needles may prefer acupressure therapy to acupuncture.
Keep reading for an overview of some of the research on the possible uses for acupressure and acupressure mats.
The findings of a
Participant diaries in a
Participants who self-administered acupressure had a slight decrease in fatigue, but the control group also saw a decrease, albeit a smaller one.
Additional research from
In a 2020 review of research on acupressure for pain management during labor, the authors explain that the most recent evidence suggests that acupressure helps reduce this pain. However, they also note that the pain relief is not necessarily significant.
Although acupressure may provide some pain relief for people in labor, other strategies, such as ice massage, provide more significant pain reduction, according to a
There is evidence to suggest that applying pressure to certain acupressure points can induce labor. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid using an acupressure mat or having acupuncture before week 38 of pregnancy without speaking to a doctor first.
Pregnant women and people undergoing chemotherapy might benefit from using acupressure to treat vomiting and nausea.
However, pregnant women should speak to a doctor before using an acupressure mat and should also
Treatments similar to using an acupressure mat include:
- trigger point massage
- gua sha
People who do not find pain relief from acupressure or other alternative therapies should make an appointment with their doctor to discuss other options.
There are very few studies on the effectiveness of acupressure mats. Some people, however, may find relief with this type of alternative therapy.
More research on acupressure mats for pain relief is necessary to support the various claims that mat manufacturers have made. These mats are unlikely to cause people harm, though.
In most cases, people can use acupressure therapy without experiencing adverse effects. Pregnant women, though, should not use acupressure mats without speaking to a doctor.