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Acupressure is a form of alternative medicine similar to acupuncture, but instead of using needles, it makes use of pressure to stimulate the same pressure points used during an acupuncture session. An acupressure mat is a mat equipped with a large number of protruding bumps or spines specially designed and situated to stimulate these pressure points. Those who use the acupressure mat can receive the healing benefits of acupressure without having to leave the house or visit an acupressure practitioner. Among other claims, the acupressure mat is said to provide natural pain relief, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and alleviate insomnia.
Most acupressure mats have as many as several hundred to more than a thousand individual protrusions to apply pressure to the skin. By lying flat on the mat, the user ensures consistent pressure is exerted across the surface of the mat and across all of the individual contact points. Many people who use an acupressure mat find it quite uncomfortable or even painful at first, but the sensation becomes more tolerable with use and eventually leads to an endorphin release that produces overall relaxation and pain relief. Often, the final results are compared to those of an energizing massage. Some people even discover that they fall asleep while using the acupressure mat.
Many acupressure mats can be purchased in different sizes or can be disassembled into smaller mats to use for foot acupressure or hand acupressure. The hands and feet are said to hold acupressure points that correspond to other parts of the body, so acupressure applied to the hands or feet can produce widespread results. The mat also can be used in a seated position or rolled to focus on individual areas of the body, especially the jaw, where many people carry uncomfortable tension. In general, sessions using the acupressure mat should be limited to 10 or 15 minutes at first, then increased to 20 minutes to half an hour. After becoming accustomed to the mat, some people use it for an hour or more or even sleep on it overnight.
Those with questions about specific medical conditions, particularly skin conditions or diabetes-related loss of sensation in the extremities, should consult with a doctor before using an acupressure mat. Some people might feel dizzy or very uncomfortable while using an acupressure mat, in which case its use should be discontinued. Children should always be supervised when they use an acupressure mat.