Bed of Nails? The Best Acupressure Mats to Relieve Back Pain and Boost Your Mood

In ancient India, gurus and yogis would lay on a bed of nails, which was an oblong piece of wood with thousands of nails embedded in it, with their points facing outward.

It’s believed they would meditate on a bed of nails based on the theory of acupressure, and today’s modern bed of nails products are based on the same theory.

This once strange practice has started to gain popularity with many people trying these ancient methods in their own home. 

The big difference is that the steel nails have now been replaced with harmless plastic spikes embedded into a foldable mat, known as an acupressure mat.

Acupressure is a traditional therapeutic practice based on the idea of stimulating pressure points, which in turn stimulate the natural release of beneficial hormones.

An acupressure mat has been shown in recent studies to reduce pain, promote relaxation and improve circulation [1].

In this post, we’ll go deeper into what an acupressure mat is, how it works and the benefits you can expect to gain from using one.

Then, we’ll review some of the best mats and recommend the one that rises above the rest.

In this article, we’re going to review the following:

What Is an Acupressure Mat?


An acupressure mat is a spiky chiropractic mat you lay on that stimulates pressure points throughout your back.

Some also have a spiky pillow for your neck and head. The mat is filled with thousands of nail-like plastic spikes.

How Does An Acupressure Mat Work?

According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 31 million Americans are having low back pain at any given time. Back pain, in general, is the leading cause of disability worldwide [2], and billions of dollars are spent each year on pain medication as a result.

Acupressure offers an all-natural, drug-free approach to relieving back pain, and the more you use it, the better your results will be.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupressure works by stimulating acupoints, which are pressure points just below the skin.

Stimulating these points corrects imbalances within your body’s systems, improving the physiological functions of organs. Thus, the therapeutic benefits you receive from acupressure result from a return to equilibrium within your body.

How To Use An Acupressure Mat

While the exact mechanisms of action haven’t been proven, modern scientists have found acupressure and acupressure mats to have specific therapeutic effects in people.

In one study, 15 minutes of daily use for 3 weeks reduced pain levels in patients with back pain. Acupressure mats are shown to measurably reduce your heart rate and breathing rate, which are markers of stress levels [3].

Researchers also found that back temperature increases when an acupressure mat is used, indicating its ability to boost blood flow.

Many of the benefits of acupressure mats come from the increased circulation it brings, but also from the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving hormones.

You also feel these benefits on a mental level, with better mental clarity and mood.

By using your acupressure mat each night before you go to bed, you can relieve the stress from your day and get to sleep more easily.

By getting on it for a while in the morning, you can help prevent back and neck pain from creeping in during the day.

What Does Lying on an Acupressure Mat Feel Like?

If you suffer from back pain, stretching out and lying on a hard surface feels good, because it relieves the pressure from your spine.

Like when laying on a back stretcher, laying on an acupressure mat lets your spine decompress.

It may seem like the plastic spikes would hurt, but they aren’t painful.

You get the most benefit laying on the mat without clothes coming in between you and the spikes, but it may feel uncomfortable this way at first. However, after regular use, this pain should disappear within a few days.

You do feel a prickly sensation, but it’s a relaxing and stimulatory feeling.


What Should You Look for In a Good Acupressure Mat?

If you’ve decided that you want to try out an acupressure mat for yourself. Here are a few things to look out for when choosing a mat.

Nail Count

The more “nails” or “needles” the mat has, the better because it’s able to stimulate more pressure points.

Most acupressure mats have over 6,000 needles, but some have as many as 14,000.

Pillow

When you’re laying flat on your acupressure mat, you’ll probably want some support for your neck. You can grab a pillow you already have, but if your mat comes with a pillow that’s ergonomically designed and filled with more therapeutic “nails,” that’s even better.

There are tons of pressure points along your neck and scalp, so stimulating them will only add to the benefits you get from an acupressure mat.

Non-Toxic Materials

You get the most benefit from your acupressure mat when you lay on it with direct skin contact.

Ideally, you want your mat to be made with non-toxic materials so that you’re not exposing yourself to toxins.

For a start, look for mats made with BPA-free plastic. However, some are even more eco-friendly and made with organic materials.

Money-Back Guarantee

When you’re trying out a new type of therapy for pain relief, your biggest concern is, “does it work?” Look for a product that has a money-back guarantee so you can take the time to try it and return it if you don’t get results.


A Look At the Top 7 Acupressure Mats

We’ve done the research on 7 of the best acupressure mats out there, so you can compare the pros and cons.

1. Acuswede Acupressure Mat

Acuswede Pain Relief & Muscle Recovery Acupressure Mat- Most Effective Professional Grade w/ 14,000...
  • SERIOUS ABOUT RECOVERY? For fitness enthusiasts...
  • REDUCE PAIN, RECOVER FASTER, REST BETTER- our...
  • NATURAL, EFFECTIVE SLEEP AIDE – Relieves back,...

Pros:

  • Very high nail count for maximal pressure point coverage
  • Large surface area lets you stimulate pressure points on your back, shoulders, glutes and hips at the same time
  • Money back guarantee

Cons:

  • You pay more
  • Harder to travel with because it’s larger

The Acuswede mat is more expensive than the typical acupressure mat, but it’s designed to provide maximal therapeutic value.

With 14,000 points and a large surface area, you get more stimulation throughout your body.

You can stimulate pressure points from your head to your glutes all at once, and there’s enough space width-wise to lay your arms on the mat, too.

It’s long enough to align it along the back and seat of your desk chair so that you’re using it on your glutes, hamstrings and back at the same time.

Developed in Sweden, it’s made of high-quality, durable material akin to a wetsuit, so that it’s comfortable, easy to clean and long-lasting.

It has a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can return it if it doesn’t produce the results you’re looking for.

See Prices >


2. Nayoya Back and Neck Pain Relief Mat

Sale
Nayoya Back and Neck Pain Relief - Acupressure Mat and Pillow Set - Relieves Stress, Back, Neck, and...
  • IMMEDIATE back and neck pain relief in the comfort...
  • ELIMINATES the need for expensive treatments as...
  • EFFECTIVELY induces a state of complete relaxation...

Pros:

  • Ergonomic neck pillow effectively stimulates more pressure points than you could reach with a flat mat
  • Great price

Cons:

  • Harder to clean
  • Made with weak foam that flattens over time

The Nayoya mat costs a lot less than the Acuswede, but it provides great value because it comes with a pillow that stimulates your neck, the tops of your shoulders and back of your head with more therapeutic spikes.

The mat has over 6,000 nails and definitely covers a smaller surface area than the Acuswede.

Nayoya Acupressure Set for Back Pain and Sciatica Relief Video

The other main difference is that it’s made with materials that are lower in quality. Since the mat is mainly comprised of foam, it’s prone to flattening over time and is harder to clean.

See Prices >


3. Ajna Eco Acupressure Massage Mat

Sale
Ajna Acupressure Mat for Massage - Natural Linen Cotton Acupuncture Mat with Bag - Back Pain Relief,...
  • HELPS PROMOTE WEIGHT LOSS AND INCREASES YOUR HAPPY...
  • LOOK, FEEL YOUNGER AND HEALTHIER FOR LONGER:...
  • REDUCE STRESS AND FEEL MORE RELAXED EVERY DAY:...

Pros:

  • Not painful or too sharp
  • Made with high-quality, eco-friendly materials that are easy to wash

Cons:

  • Small size compared to larger mats like the Acuswede
  • Pillow is sold separately

The Ajna mat is a highly-rated eco-friendly acupressure mat with over 5,000 spikes. Ajna also offers an acupressure pillow that pairs well with the mat, but it’s not included.

It’s made with high-quality materials and it’s easy to wash. Interestingly, users who found other mats too hard and painful on their bare skin found that the Anja mat wasn’t too sharp for them.

JS Health- Jessica Sepel Reviews Ajnamat- Relaxing Acupressure Mat

It’s received an overwhelming amount of praise from customers who use it for pain relief and relaxation.

The only drawback to it is that it’s not particularly large in size, so it doesn’t cover much surface area beyond your back.

The price is a little high considering it’s not a larger mat like the Acuswede, and if you buy the pillow in addition, you’re paying around the same amount as you would if you bought the Acuswede.

See Prices >


4. Spoonk Acupressure Mat

Spoonk - Back Pain and Sleep Aid Relief in Cotton Regular Size Acupressure Mat with Bag Eco USA...
  • 3 PIECE COMBO SET: 1 reg. size mat with 6200...
  • RELIEF from back and neck pain, sciatic nerve,...
  • ACUPRESSURE MASSAGE has been used for centuries...

Pros:

  • Includes 3 products in 1 set, providing more value
  • Made with quality, durable materials

Cons:

  • Spikes are sharper
  • Smaller mat isn’t very supportive when rolled up into a “pillow”

The Spoonk mat is good value because it includes 3 acupressure items around the price most mats cost. In addition to the mat, it comes with a smaller mat that rolls into a pillow and a spiky acupressure ball you can use as a massage ball to release pressure points anywhere on your body, from your scalp to your feet.

The larger mat alone has 6,200 points and can stretch from your shoulders to your glutes, depending on your height. Some users find the spikes on the Spoonk mat painful and sharp compared to other mats.

While the smaller mat rolls into a pillow, it’s not as effective as actual acupressure pillows because there’s no stuffing inside and the rolled mat tends to sink too much under the weight of your head.

Still, it’s nice to have a smaller mat you can easily travel with and stand on or use on a portion of your back for a bit of acupressure therapy on the go.

See Prices >


5. Pranamat Eco Set

Therapeutic Manual Massage Set PRANAMAT ECO (Pranamat Massage mat + PranaPillow Massage Pillow)
  • Made from 100% organic and environmentally...
  • Extra durable: standard Pranamat ECO 5 year...
  • Relieves minor muscle pains and tension

Pros:

  • Includes a pillow
  • Eco-friendly and non-toxic
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Expensive

The Pranamat Eco set includes an acupressure mat and acupressure pillow. Used together, they give you the benefits of acupressure from your scalp to your glutes.

It has a 30-day money back guarantee and even a 5-year warranty. Plus, it’s made with eco-friendly, organic materials, so it’s non-toxic and environmentally sustainable.

It’s well rated for its effectiveness and high quality, but it’s much more expensive than most acupressure mats, including the Acuswede.

Nonetheless, some users have compared it to cheaper mats and decided the Pranamat was more effective and made with better, more durable materials.

See Prices >


6. Bed of Nails Original Acupressure Mat

Bed of Nails Original Acupressure Mat for Back/Body Pain Treatment, Relaxation and Mindfulness,...
  • AFFORDABLE ACUPRESSURE MAT: Effective and...
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: BON’s modern design allows the...
  • CONVENIENT PACKAGING: Allowing you to experience...

Pros:

  • Non-toxic
  • Easy to wash

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Small mat size considering the price
  • No money-back guarantee

Bed of Nails also sells an acupressure pillow, but it’s sold separately.

Many users report that the mat is effective, but there’s nothing special about it to warrant its higher price point. It’s highly comparable to the Nayoya and Spoonk mats, as it’s about the same size with the same number of points.

The Original Bed of Nails Acupressure Mat & Pillow

The spikes are made of non-toxic plastic, and the mat is easy to wash.

Unfortunately, there’s no money-back guarantee, so if it turns out this type of therapy isn’t working for you, you may not be able to return it.

See Prices >


7. LYAPKO Acupuncture Mat

LYAPKO Acupuncture Mat Big Pad 7.0 Ag 2710 Needles. Unique Massager Active Applicator for the Relief...
  • EASES PAIN of back, neck, feet, strengthens immune...
  • RELIEVES FATIGUE, boosts energy, increases working...
  • TRIPLE EFFICIENCY The Size and distance between...

Pros:

  • Made with beneficial metals
  • Provides more intensity
  •  

Cons:

  • Made with fewer spikes compared to most acupressure mats
  • Expensive considering its small size

What makes the LYAPKO mat different from other acupressure mats is that it’s made with various metals, predominantly silver.

These metals add to the therapeutic value of the acupressure mat by emitting beneficial nanoparticles that lower inflammation and neutralize free radicals.

LYAPKO defines their mat as an “acupuncture” mat, but its “needles” obviously aren’t designed to penetrate the skin. The spikes are quite long, however, and many users find them too painful. Because it’s made with metals instead of purely with plastic, they may actually be harder.

While this may be more akin to the ancient “bed of nails” ancestor of acupressure mats and make it more therapeutic than plastic, the intensity isn’t for everyone.

Some users say they loved it after slowly acclimating to the painful spikes. Unfortunately, the mat is quite small, and only has 2,700 spikes.

See Prices >


Our Recommendation: Acuswede Acupressure Mat

Acuswede Pain Relief & Muscle Recovery Acupressure Mat- Most Effective Professional Grade w/ 14,000...
  • SERIOUS ABOUT RECOVERY? For fitness enthusiasts...
  • REDUCE PAIN, RECOVER FASTER, REST BETTER- our...
  • NATURAL, EFFECTIVE SLEEP AIDE – Relieves back,...

The Acuswede is our top choice because of the outstanding customer reviews it’s received, and all the features that maximize its therapeutic value.

Its extra-large size lets you get more out of the 15 to 20 minutes a day you spend on it. With 14,000 spikes, it stimulates more pressure points.

This makes the mat more effective in bringing your body’s systems and organs to a state of equilibrium. Whether you need pain relief or you have trouble sleeping, the Acuswede will be more effective in a shorter amount of time.

Plus, it’ll last you a long time because it’s made with durable materials.


Acupressure Mat Best Practices

When you’re brand new to using an acupressure mat, you want to start slowly at 3 to 5 minutes a day and work your way up to 15 to 20 minutes a day.

The key is to use it every day, because this will allow you to acclimate quickly to the sensation and provide you the most benefits.

If laying on the mat feels too painful at first, even with clothes on, you can try placing it on the back of a chair and leaning back against it so your full weight isn’t on it.

As you adjust with regular practice, you can start laying on it. Eventually, you can get to the point of making direct skin contact with it, which will give you the most benefits.

Acupressure mats allow you to reap the benefits of reflexology in your hands and feet, as well as acupressure on virtually any part of your body.

While they’re mostly designed for your back, you can also sit on them, stand on them, lay the front of your legs on them and lay your head down on them.

There are pressure points all throughout your body, and the tiny spikes on an acupressure mat are exactly what trigger them to produce beneficial effects for your body.

If you’re still not sure about trying an acupressure mat, choose one with high ratings and a money-back guarantee like the Acuswede, and you can’t go wrong.

Leave a comment

Want to learn about more of the best gadgets?

Join others who get our FREE weekly newsletter on the best tools and techniques for living pain-free, improving mobility and fixing your posture.

By entering your email, you agree to our privacy policy

Send this to a friend