Acupressure is an ancient Chinese therapy that is practiced by health professionals all around the world. However with rising stress levels and chronic pain statistics, many choose to enjoy the treatment from the comfort of their own home. Unlike acupuncture, acupressure does not puncture the skin and is a non-invasive manual tool, used to massage the acupoints around the body, relieving pressure.
Read along to find out why you should try acupressure and what the benefits of acupressure are.
1 ) NATURAL PAIN RELIEF
One of the key benefits of acupressure is that it is a natural form of pain relief.
I know, laying on a bed of small spikes hardly sounds like it would be relaxing and elevating for pain but in my experience, it is most certainly true. You'll have to try it for yourself if you're sceptical and see how your body reacts to acupressure. It is worth remembering that we all have varying tolerances to pain and depending on where you hold tension in your body, it may be more comfortable for you to lie on your spikes acupressure mat or stand or place an extra cushion underneath the mat while using it.
A major systematic review in 2014
, looked at the research surrounding acupressure and pain. Findings were overwhelmingly positive and showed that acupressure was effective for a variety of different types of pain. The study concluded that health professionals should consider the use of acupressure as a complementary therapy for managing the pain associated with many conditions such as Migraine, back issues & high blood pressure.
2 ) LOWERS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Clinical trials have been conducted
, looking at the impact of acupressure on patients with hypertension. These trials found that acupressure lowered blood pressure in patients for at least 30 minutes. More research is needed to see the extent to which acupressure can reduce blood pressure on a long term basis, however the project proved it to be effective as a short term solution with the recommendation of using acupressure safely at home, 5 - 7 times a week for 20 - 30 minutes each time. Read more about how long you should use an acupressure mat for on our website.
3 ) RELEASES ENDORPHINS
Many health professionals recommend acupressure to their clients
, as the process is found to release endorphins. Endorphins work in a similar way to opioids. Often referred to as ‘the body’s natural painkillers’, they help to reduce pain and produce a feeling of euphoria. Research published in 2017
showed that acupressure can stimulate the production of endorphins which helps to block the pain signals reaching the brain.
4 ) USEFUL FOR SPORTS INJURIES
Another benefit of acupressure is that it helps to prevent or heal sports injuries. Studies have been conducted
in relation to those suffering from sports injuries and found that acupressure decreased the reported pain scores in athletes with acute injuries but not anxiety levels. The conclusion of the study was that acupressure could be effective in a sports setting, especially if there is limited access to medical and mental health care. Acupressure treatments are proven to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
5 ) AIDS OTHER SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITIONS
Using an acupressure mat has been shown to provide relief from a number of serious conditions. A study conducted in Germany in 2012
looked specifically at the impact of acupressure mats on those suffering from chronic neck and lower back pain. It showed that pain was relieved in both areas. The results also demonstrated the impact that the mat can have on the way the body processes pain. A project conducted in 2018
interestingly, looked to see the impact acupressure had on heart rate and blood pressure. The results showed that roughly 30 minutes after finishing treatment, blood pressure and heart rate were found to be significantly lower.
6 ) MUSCLE RELAXATION
Users of the popular brand Yogi Bare
, have reported having more relaxed muscles following regular use of their acupressure mat. Those suffering from neck and back pain in particular reported that their muscles felt relaxed after sessions.
There is currently little research to back this up scientifically, however look at reviews of many acupressure mats and you’ll see this feedback
time and time again plus claims of eased. fibromyalgia after the first use.
7 ) IMPROVES SLEEP
The number of people suffering from insomnia has risen rapidly
in the last 10 years but research shows that acupressure can help. A study in 2015
looked at the sleep of menopausal women and found that sleep was improved significantly following acupressure treatments, an amazing benefit. Another more recent study
focussed particularly on self-administered acupressure for symptoms of insomnia
. Participants in the study were shown how to administer acupressure then monitored and asked to keep a diary to record the quality of their sleep each night. It found that if individuals were shown how to apply the treatment regularly, this could be used as a tool for treating the symptoms of insomnia.
8 ) IMPROVED DIGESTION
It may seem like an unlikely benefit, but acupressure therapy benefits those suffering from digestion issues. A 2015 research study
looked at perineal self-acupressure which aided in the movement of bowel function and generally was found to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of those suffering from constipation. I'm not sure a home mat is designed for this specifically but there are ways to administer the pressure manually, without a mat. Please consult a health professional if you are considering using acupressure in this way.
9 ) INCREASES FLOW OF ENERGY (PRANA)
Acupressure has proven to help with fatigue and to increase energy levels in the body. A study at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital
, Taiwan focused on patients suffering from hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer.
Findings proved that acupressure can improve fatigue, and it was recommended that educational guides should be created to help patients take advantage of the therapy. For others with a decline in their energy but not to the degree of fatigue, acupressure has been reported to significantly improve the flow of energy in the body, within 30 minutes of the treatment.
10 ) IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH
Another reason why you should try acupressure is because it can improve your mental health.
Through a major study in 2015
it was found that depression, anxiety and stress can be positively impacted by acupressure. Participants were given treatment three times a week for four weeks and the results were all positive. It was found to significantly reduce depression, stress and anxiety, in this case for patients with end stage renal disease on hemodialysis.
Many thanks to Yoga Teacher and Podcaster Ruth Steel for this article. Find more about Ruth on her Instagram and her website.