Best Acupressure Mats
Acupressure mats rely on traditional chinese medicine and are said to release blocked energy, or chi, from the body.
On a more practical level, they can provide similar health benefits to acupuncture, and relieve back and neck pain.
Perhaps the best part of acupressure mats, though, is that you can use them wherever you like.
So if you have a job that’s hard on your back or neck, such as working at a computer, then an acupressure mat can provide a great way for you to decompress at the end of the day.
Here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Acupressure Mats
- Best of the Best: Bed of Nails
- Runner Up: Gaiam Acupressure Mat
- Best Large Mat: VitaliZEN Extra Long Acupressure Mat
Best Acupressure Mat Reviews
Bed of Nails (👑 Best of the Best)
The aptly-named Bed of Nails stands out as the best acupressure mat in our eyes, and it seems like many of those who have used it would agree according to its top overall rating on Amazon.
The first thing you should know about the Bed of Nails is that it comes in three vibrant colors: black, pink, and green. While it’s obviously not the most important detail about this acupressure mat, if you’re going to be taking it with you wherever you go, you’ll want to invest in a color you get on with. While this particular acupressure mat is more expensive than a lot of the competition, what you have to bear in mind is that this is a mat that will provide an endless amount of back and neck pain relief. The price is also justified due to the high quality design of the Bed of Nails, which we’ll explore in more detail now.
Based on a tradition that began more than 1,000 years ago, the Bed of Nails shares its name with a practice associated with both meditation and healing. By tinkering with the classic design for ergonomics, and adding in a Swedish twist, the manufacturer has created something which is perfect for the modern lifestyle with similar healing effects as its ancient predecessor. The Bed of Nails has close to 9,000 non-toxic plastic nails evenly distributed across its surface, clustered into 210 small circles. These plastic nails are harmless to the skin, but manage to harness the healing power of the old practice, so you don’t have to worry about going through the discomfort of laying on a bed of nails for nothing.
The degree of intensity you can reach is determined by how much clothing you wear when you lay on the acupressure mat, and you can ramp things up even more by using the accompanying neck pillow. The Bed of Nails features both a yoga-style mat for your back, as well as a small curved neck pillow too, which can be just what you need after a work day spent craning your neck to look at a screen. The inclusion of the neck pillow also means you can customize the experience to suit your needs in the moment. If your back is giving you grief, then you can use the mat alone and sink into it. But if you feel like you have ‘text neck’ then you can simply lay the neck pillow up against a hard surface for some deep relaxation and pain relief there. The best part is, you only need to use the mat for 15-20 minutes a day to see the benefits. Some of the benefits include improved circulation, reduced stress and anxiety, and relief from sore or aching muscles.
Bed of Nails may seem like a lot of other acupressure mats upon first glance, but it is the original Swedish Acupressure Mat, and the manufacturer has improved the product a lot over the years. The mat once had around 7,000 nails, but now has closer to 9,000. The addition of almost 2,000 extra nails may seem like a move intended to please only the masochists who enjoy pain, but actually, the truth is it makes the experience less painful to the user. With more nails, there is a more even distribution of weight, which makes it more comfortable to lay on the mat.
- Available in 3 colors
- Around 9,000 non-toxic plastic nails
- 210 acupressure plates
- Includes bolster neck pillow
- Comes with travel bag
- Made from 100% cotton and 100% recycled ABS plastic PU foam
Gaiam Acupressure Mat (🥈 Runner Up)
Our runner up pick is a much more affordable option than the Bed of Nails, but even so, it still delivers a top user experience and similar results.
The Gaiam acupressure mat includes a curved bolster pillow, which is ideal for full-body relaxation and allows you to get the pain relief you’re seeking in the moment. It’s especially useful to have the pillow if you regularly suffer from headaches or migraines as it can provide relief from both. The mat uses thousands of pressure points nodes which work to stimulate blood flow around the body and promote muscle recovery. It’s also intended to ease back and neck pain, as well as reducing stress and anxiety. You can get all of these health benefits, and more, from just 10-30 minutes of use every day, depending on how great the pain you’re in and how brave you’re feeling.
The main reason to invest in this acupressure mat over others, aside from the modest price, is that Gaiam is a top brand with a stellar reputation in the yoga and Eastern healing communities. Gaiam has long been known as a brand that supports healing through movement and wellness, and this acupressure mat backs up its mission statement by delivering a solid relaxation tool steeped in traditional Chinese medicine. As a smaller mat, the 16×24 mat isn’t ideal for larger bodies, but the inclusion of the neck pillow should make up for that. It provides a concentrated distribution of nodes which should be more than enough to target a segment of the back, even if you do have a longer torso.
- 16×24 inches
- Thousands of pressure point nodes
- Includes neck pillow
VitaliZEN Extra Long Acupressure Mat (⭐ Best Large Mat)
If you’re looking for full-body relaxation and pain relief, the VitaliZEN extra long acupressure mat could be just what you need.
While most acupressure mats are designed just for the back and sometimes the neck with an additional bolster pillow, this one from VitaliZEN is built for the whole body. That means that while you experience relief in your back and neck, you can also work into the glute muscles and the feet at the same time. This is perfect for those who finish the work day exhausted and in pain all over, rather than in one specific part of the body. This mat is two times the length of most other mats, at 51 x 19 inches, and has a staggering 12,000 spikes spread across the many acupressure plates.
But that’s not all you can expect with this mat, since you’ll get the bolster neck pillow included, as well as a massage ball, a travel mat, and a travel-friendly carrying bag. That makes the product more than worth its price tag, since you will be investing in a complete relaxation kit that should make your pains and aches melt away. While the large mat is perfect for use at home, the smaller travel mat is great for pain relief after a long train journey or flight, and can double up as a pillow if you have a headache or migraine you want relief from. The massage ball is excellent for working into knots and various muscle groups after a rigorous workout.
The design of the mat is impressive too, as VitaliZEN opted to use non-toxic materials like 100% cotton and a hypoallergenic plastic, called HIPS. Both of these materials are approved for use in surgical equipment, and both are environmentally-friendly. The high-quality materials also indicate that this mat will have a long lifespan, which is more than can be said for the cheaper options which rely on artificial materials.
- Large 51 x 19 inch mat
- Includes travel carrying bag, travel mat, and massage ball.
- Has over 12,000 spikes
- Made from 100% cotton and HIPS plastic
While it may seem like all acupressure mats are the same, if you pay close enough attention to the facts, you’ll be able to tell them apart clearly.
In order to get the perfect acupressure mat for your needs, it’s worth taking into account the various factors such as the extras it includes, the material it’s made from, and the number of spikes it has.
But before we get into that, we’re going to give a brief summary of what acupressure actually is, and how it compares to acupuncture.
Is Acupressure the same as Acupuncture?
In short, no, acupressure is not exactly the same as acupuncture.
But the two practices do share a lot in common.
Whereas acupuncture is a practice that involves inserting sharp needles into various acupuncture points on the body, acupressure applies sustained pressure to specific points.
In other words, acupressure is the home-use friendly version of acupuncture, since you really don’t want to mess around with needles unless you know what you’re doing.
Theoretically, both practices should be able to provide some pain relief as a result of pressure on the acupressure points in the body, but the degree of effectiveness varies.
Acupressure is a way for the layperson to access this powerful form of healing, without having to leave the house or break the bank.
There are two main factors which influence the quality of an acupressure mat: the design and the extras.
Design refers to the material the mat is made from, as well as the number of spikes it has and what they are made from too.
The material of the mat is important as it will have an impact on the longevity of the product as well as influencing other factors.
Cheaper mats, like that of Gaiam, will typically use synthetic materials like polyurethane to keep the cost down.
The downside of this is that the mat is less likely to last as long, won’t be as environmentally-friendly, and can have other potentially negative effects.
More expensive mats, on the other hand, will be made from environmentally-friendly materials like 100% cotton which will make them last a lot longer and imbue them with other great characteristics.
The spikes of a mat aren’t the only determinant of quality, but they play a very significant role.
While it isn’t as simple as this, and the material and design of the spikes are important too, the more spikes there are on the mat the better.
That’s what makes the Bed of Nails our top pick, since the company refined the mat and now offer up to 9,000 non-toxic plastic spikes.
The more spikes there are, the better the weight distribution is likely to be, so you will feel less discomfort as you lay on the mat.
In terms of material, non-toxic is best, since the majority of the mats will inevitably have plastic spikes to cut costs.
The extras are almost as important as the design of an acupressure mat, so it’s worth paying attention to what you get with your investment.
If you’re buying an acupressure mat, chances are you’re going to want to use it a lot, which means you’ll want to be able to easily carry it around.
To facilitate the easy transportation of the mat, you’ll need a good travel bag.
Without one, you’ll find it tricky to travel with the mat, especially since it has to be folded a certain way which makes it challenging to fit in an ordinary plastic bag or backpack.
A bolster neck pillow is almost as good as the mat itself, as it can provide great neck pain relief as well as soothe headaches and migraines.
Plus, it can be used in combination with the mat for whole body relaxation.
Some mats, like the VitaliZEN, also come with a handy massage ball.
If you suffer a lot from foot aches and pains or you workout a lot and deal with muscle soreness regularly, you could stand to gain a lot from using a massage ball.
The ball can be used to iron out knots in the body, and provide plenty of pain relief where you most need it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Acupressure Mats
Which acupressure mat is the best?
In our view, it’s the Bed of Nails that stands out as the best acupressure mat.
The Bed of Nails is the original Swedish Acupressure Mat, and it has been refined over time to the point that it now has close to 9,000 non-toxic plastic nails distributed evenly across 210 acupressure plates.
The vast number of nails allows for even weight distribution which should make the experience of laying on the mat more comfortable and more relaxing.
Are acupressure mats safe?
While it’s easy to assume that acupressure mats are painful and uncomfortable to use, and true to some extent, they are perfectly safe.
Once you’ve endured a brief spell of discomfort as the spikes first come into contact with the skin of your back, the pain should subside and be replaced with a feeling of relaxation.
As each spike works into the deep tissue of the back, you should feel yourself sink into the mat and relax into it for effective pain relief.
Do acupressure mats really work?
The evidence for acupressure mats is more anecdotal than anything else, but their design is based on traditional Chinese medicine.
The idea behind the mat is that each point will work into so-called acupressure points on the back, which will release blocked chi energy and bring on a state of relaxation.
Due to the similarity to the practice of acupuncture, it’s reasonable to draw comparisons between the two, which makes acupressure mats a valid form of pain relief.
A Final Word From Wellness Nova
An acupressure mat can be an excellent investment if you’re suffering from back and neck pain, and seeking a drug-free and non-invasive form of relief.
The effectiveness of the mats will depend on various factors, such as the number of plastic spikes, the distribution of them, and the size of the mat.