Can you really relieve pain and stress by pressing on different points of the body? Yes! This method goes back to an old Chinese tradition called acupressure. But what exactly is acupressure? What health benefits does it have? And can I try it at home? Here you will get the answers!
What is acupressure and how does it work?
Acupressure is a 4,000 year old technique from China, which stimulates various pressure points in the body. The aim of acupressure is to activate the body's energy pathways and restore the body's natural balance. That may sound simple? It is! And super effective as well. Here are 9 health benefits of acupressure:
1. Acupressure is a natural way to relieve pain.
Acupressure has proven to be an effective treatment for various types of pain. Therefore, researchers believe that acupressure can be used as an alternative method to relieve different types of pain (1).
2. Acupressure releases endorphins
As you may know, endorphins are also called feel-good hormones. But did you know that acupressure can help the body to produce even more endorphins? Endorphins help you to relieve pain by blocking the pain signals sent to the brain (2).
3. Acupressure relieves pain in chronic back and neck problems.
Do you have back or neck pain? Then you could benefit greatly from an acupressure mat. A German study has shown that acupressure can relieve the pain caused by back and neck problems. The results of the study also show that using an acupressure mat has a positive influence on the way our body deals with pain (3).
4. Better sleep through acupressure.
In fact, several studies have confirmed that acupressure not only helps you fall asleep faster, but also contributes to a better quality of sleep. (4,5) Here you can read more about how acupressure can help you sleep better.
5. Acupressure helps to relax your muscles.
There is not enough research to say that acupressure helps to relax your muscles. But if you study the subject a little, you will see that there are countless people who report improved muscle relaxation after some time on the acupressure mat.
6. Keep a clear head.
Do you often feel tired and tense? Then you should try an acupressure mat! Surveys have shown that acupressure works successfully against fatigue and can demonstrably increase your energy level! (6).
7. Acupressure can help you to reduce stress and anxiety
Can you really reduce stress and anxiety by pressing on different points of the body? Yes! Research has shown that regular treatment with acupressure can have a positive effect on anxiety, stress and depression (7).
8. Acupressure improves your digestion.
Research has shown that self-acupressure can support stomach functions. According to this, the quality of life and well-being can be improved. (8)
9. Acupressure has a positive effect on chronic headaches and migraines
A month-long acupressure treatment has proven to be more effective in fighting chronic headaches and migraines than a month-long treatment for muscle relaxation. For many subjects, the effect of the treatment lasted up to at least 6 months (9).
What exactly is an acupressure mat?
An acupressure mat is a kind of "nail mat", which has thousands of small pyramid-shaped spikes and exerts pressure on various points of your body. This will give you the benefits of traditional acupressure.
How to use the mat
You can put the mat anywhere - on the floor, on a chair or on your bed. Make sure that you lie down on the mat, close your eyes, relax and breathe deeply.
Possible side effects
Acupressure is a safe treatment method without side effects (10). However, if you are pregnant, you should avoid acupressure treatment. Pressing the pressure points can be dangerous for both you and the baby. The same applies to people who have a hernia or suffer from osteoporosis (11).
Tips and advice
- Are you unsure if the acupressure mat is the right treatment for you? Then we recommend that you consult your doctor.
- How long should you lie on the mat? Try to find out what works best for you and your body. Some people lie on the mat for 10-15 minutes, others prefer up to 40 minutes.
- Are you particularly sensitive to pain? Or do you feel that lying on the acupressure mat is too intense? Then we recommend that you lay a thin layer of fabric, e.g. a T-shirt or a sheet, on the mat. This way you can gradually get used to the treatment.
- Is it difficult for you to relax? Why not try to combine your time on the mat with a short meditation? Meditation can help you relax and calm your brain, so that you feel happier.
3: Hohmann, C., Ullrich, I., Lauche, R., Choi, K. E., Lüdtke, R., Rolke, R., Cramer, H., Saha, F. J., Rampp, T., Michalsen, A., Langhorst, J., Dobos, G., & Musial, F. (2012). The benefit of a mechanical needle stimulation pad in patients with chronic neck and lower back pain: two randomized controlled pilot studies. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 753583. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/753583
4: Abedian, Z., Eskandari, L., Abdi, H., & Ebrahimzadeh, S. (2015). The Effect of Acupressure on Sleep Quality in Menopausal Women: A Randomized Control Trial. Iranian journal of medical sciences, 40(4), 328–334.
5: Yeung, W.‐F., Ho, F.Y.‐Y., Chung, K.‐F., Zhang, Z.‐J., Yu, B.Y.‐M., Suen, L.K.‐P., Chan, L.Y.‐T., Chen, H.‐Y., Ho, L.‐M. and Lao, L.‐X. (2018), Self‐administered acupressure for insomnia disorder: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Sleep Res, 27: 220-231. doi:10.1111/jsr.12597
6: Lan, S. C., Lin, Y. E., Chen, S. C., Lin, Y. F., & Wang, Y. J. (2015). Effects of acupressure on fatigue and depression in hepatocellular carcinoma patients treated with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization: a quasi-experimental study. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2015, 496485. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/496485
7: Thin Thin Hmwe, N., Subramanian, P., Ping Tan, L. and Kuan Chong, W. (2015). The effects of acupressure on depression, anxiety and stress in patients with hemodialysis: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies Volume 52, Issue 2, February 2015, Pages 509-518.
8: Abbott, R., Ayres, I., Hui, E., & Hui, K. K. (2015). Effect of perineal self-acupressure on constipation: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of general internal medicine, 30(4), 434–439. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-014-3084-6
9: Hsieh, L., Liou, H., Lee, L., Chen, T. and Yen, A. (2010). Effect of Acupressure and Trigger Points in Treating Headache: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Chinese MedicineVol. 38, No. 01, pp. 1-14 (2010).
10: Movahedi, M., Ghafari, S., Nazari, F., & Valiani, M. (2017). The Effects of Acupressure on Pain Severity in Female Nurses with Chronic Low Back Pain. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research, 22(5), 339–342. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_108_16