Here’s a little something about me — I love me a new wellness trend.
So when I started hearing more and more about the shakti mat — also known as acupressure mat — which has exploded in popularity over the last few years, I had to get my hands on one.
What is a shakti mat?
A shakti mat is the original brand of acupressure mat, intended to be an at-home alternative to acupressure or acupuncture.
The mat contains thousands of tiny plastic spikes and is designed to target acupressure points in the body in order to reduce pain, promote relaxation and restore balance in the body, mind and spirit.
Although a relatively new wellness trend in the western world, the shakti mat is based on traditions that date back over 5,000 years, taking influence from the traditional Chinese healing practice of acupressure and the Indian bed of nails.
But how exactly does a shakti mat work? And more importantly, does it work? I tried one out and this is what I discovered…
What are the benefits of a shakti mat?
Although not a huge amount of scientific research has been done on the benefits of acupressure mats as of yet, some of the claimed shakti mat benefits include:
- Reduced stress
- Improved sleep and treating insomnia
- Relaxation of sore and tight muscles
- Quicker recovery after exercise
- Relief from tension headaches
- Relief from back, neck and shoulder pain
- Relief from fibromyalgia pain
- Increased energy levels
How does an acupressure mat work?
Acupressure mats contain thousands of small plastic spikes which apply pressure to acupressure points in your back when you lay on them. Some mats also come with acupressure pillows which can be used on other parts of the body such as the neck, head and feet.
You’re supposed to lay on your acu pressure mat for around 20-40 minutes several times a week for the effects to work fully. However, when you’re new to the mat, I’d advise starting with 5-10 minutes then building up.
Acupressure is a technique with roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which uses targeted pressure to unblock energy (chi) along the meridians, or energy channels, in the body. The similar practice of acupuncture uses tiny needles to stimulate the body at these same pressure points in order to relieve pain and help you feel more balanced.
Many Western practitioners take a different approach and attribute the success of these types of techniques to improved blood and lymph circulation and a release of endorphins that block pain.
The main difference between acupressure mats and acupressure/acupuncture treatments provided by a professional is that a mat stimulates many of the body’s acupressure points at once. Professional treatments focus on specific areas of the body depending on the condition being targeted.
Are Shakti Mats painful to use?
Acupressure mats may look like a medieval torture device at first glance, but they’re really not as bad as you might think.
Personally I didn’t find my shakti matte painful to use, contrary to this man’s experience (men…), however it did become slightly uncomfortable after 15 or 20 minutes of use.
Many other people do say that using their acupuncture mat is a little painful for the first couple of minutes, but the pain quickly subsides and turns into a warm and relaxing feeling instead.
The makers of the shakti mat claim this isn’t at all unusual to feel an uncomfortable and prickly sensation while the body first adjusts to the mat.
One of the most important parts of using an acu pressure mat is learning how to ease yourself on and off of it, and reposition yourself, without scratching your skin. This can be the most painful part if not done correctly and delicately.
It’s okay to wear a thin layer of clothing when using your mat, especially at first. However, it is supposed to work better on bare skin so this is something you can work up to.
Are acupressure mats any good for muscle pain?
By increasing blood circulation, the shaki matt helps bring more oxygen, nutrients and pain reducing hormones to the muscles.
Many users of the shakti mat claim that regular use is great for reducing muscle pain. Using the mat after intense exercise is praised for helping soothe sore muscles and aid quicker recovery.
Even if you’re not an athlete or avid gym-goer, the shakti mat can still help reduce muscle tension for those with tight muscles or pinched nerves.
Are acupressure mats good for stress and anxiety?
Another of the acupressure mat benefits is reducing stress and anxiety.
The pressure from the rounded spikes of the mat is designed to help your body to relax and release endorphins and other calming hormones. This reduces stress, improves sleep and leaves you feeling more energised in the long run.
A mat acupressure session is particularly popular as an accompaniment to yoga and meditation. The designers of shakti mat suggest adding a few drops of essential oil to your mat for an even more relaxing experience.
What did my Shakti mat do for me?
In short — not a whole lot.
I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it.
Maybe I just was not consistent enough with it — supposedly the mat works best with regular and continued use — or maybe I’m already doing a few too many wellness activities to notice the direct benefit of my shakti matte.
For a few nights, I laid on it in bed for around 20 minutes before going to sleep, and then tossed it on the ground when it started getting uncomfortable, and… well… nothing more. I noticed no improvement in my sleep, or muscle pain, or anything.
But that’s just my personal experience with the shakti mat. The effects and benefits of acupressure mats vary a lot from person to person and you’ll find many other positive shakti mat reviews from people who swear by theirs.
The only way to know for sure if an acupressure map is right for you is to give one a try for yourself. Fortunately, the shakti mat comes with a 60 day returns policy.
Best Acupressure Mats
Disclaimer: This post may include affiliate links.
While I chose to try out the original shakti mat, there are a whole variety of different acupressure mats available on the market right now. So which acu pressure mat is best?
A few things you should look for in an acupressure mat include how many spikes (acupressure points) they have, whether they come with a carry bag and what materials they’re made from.
Below are a few of the best acupressure mats you can buy.
The Shakti Mat is the original acupressure mat, made with 6,000 spikes. The lower number of spikes means that your body weight is less dispersed and therefore the shaki mat can be more uncomfortable at first but also more effective in the long run. The mats are handcrafted with organic cotton and dyes and recyclable ABS plastic in an ethical all-female workshop in the holy Indian city of Varanasi — so by buying one, you know you’re doing something good too!
The Spoonk mat is produced in the USA and is made with a 100% cotton cover, plant-based eco-foam insert and over 6,000 hypoallergenic ABS plastic spikes. The mat is smaller than many others and rolls up into a convenient carry bag so is one of the easiest mats to travel with. Instead of a pillow, the Spoonk mat comes with a handy little Groove Ball for foot massages and reflexology.
A traditional acupressure mat with a sleek Swedish twist, the internationally popular bed of nails mat was recently upgraded to feature 8,820 spikes — one of the most out of any mat on the market right now. The more dispersed pressure across the spikes makes it a little less sharp and therefore a good option for those who are new to acupressure mats.
Another Swedish offering, the Yantra Mat also has 8,820 acupressure spikes. The mat comes with a sturdy travel bag.
The Nayoya mat is a little smaller than some other acupressure mats but still has 6,210 spikes on the mat and 1,782 spikes on the detachable pillow. Its cotton cover can be removed from the foam insert and hand washed. The Nayoya comes with a vinyl carry bag.
My Lotus Mat stands out from the crowd with its pretty lotus flower-shaped spike circles and XL pillow which provides greater comfort when laying on the mat for long periods or using the mat in bed in the evening.
The Comfort Pro acupressure mat is another eco-friendly option. The mat is carefully handmade using the highest-quality, hypoallergenic natural linen and includes a removable cushion made of 100% natural fibres. The mat has 7,452 spikes while the pillow has an additional 1,785.
The ProSource Fit is a high-quality yet affordable acupressure mat made from plant-based eco foam and thick cotton. The mat has 6,210 spikes and comes with a detached pillow covered in an additional 1,782 spikes for neck support and more holistic pain relief. It’s also available in 7 vibrant colours.