While spending more time at home and contending with increased stress amid the global pandemic, we can't show our bodies enough TLC. But from the confines of a living room or bedroom where, for many, space is limited, there's quite literally not much room to get creative. As a result, mat-based therapy and movement, from yoga to stretching with a foam roller, has risen in popularity.
For at-home workout devotees with sore muscles, or those who are simply looking to reinvigorate their bodies after spending excess time stationary, a robust form of self-care comes in the form of New York City acupuncture studio WTHN's new acupressure mat. Marrying stress-melting results with roll-up-and-store ease, it's a game-changing solution for so much that ails us in this challenging time.
For thousands of years, in different areas of ancient science—from Ayurveda to to traditional Chinese Medicine—acupressure, which applies the same principles as acupuncture sans needles, has been used as a technique for pacifying the mind and body. "Acupressure is a great DIY technique to reduce stress, relieve pain, and promote mind and body wellness from the comfort of your own home," explains Dr. Shari Auth (DACM, LAC, LMT), co-founder of WTHN. "Just like acupuncture, acupressure stimulates points across the body, aka acupoints, that correspond to various ailments or conditions. There are hundreds of acupoints on the body and they are located where blood, nerve, lymph and connective tissue meet." While clinical research on acupressure is still emerging, studies have shown that the technique can help relieve a variety of types of pain, such as chronic low back pain, as well as help whittle away at stress. "Most people feel relaxed and rejuvenated after an acupressure session as muscles have released, circulation has increased, and pain has diminished," says Auth.
To provide its user with a gentle acupressure massage, WTHN's ergonomically designed mat is made with raised plastic acu-points instead of needles to increase circulation, alleviate muscle soreness, and induce relaxation. "Stimulating an acupoint sends a message to the brain that alters brain chemistry and tells the body to react to achieve a desired result," explains Auth. "For example, an acupressure point that corresponds to stress could trigger the brain to lower cortisol levels (our stress hormone) while increasing dopamine and serotonin levels (our happy hormones)." For more tailored results, the mat can also be used in a variety of different positions: while seated on a chair, laying down to relieve back pain, or in standing position to relax the feet and wake up the body. According to Auth, taking "acu-naps" is another strategy for achieving full-body relaxation, whether you need a boost in the morning or a midday pick me up.
To enhance the experience to multisensory effect, consider pairing your acupressure session with candlelight, aromatherapy, and soothing sounds. "Whether you’re suffering from aches and pains from working from your kitchen table, or dealing with increased stress from everything that is going on, an acupressure mat session helps," says Auth, adding that it's also a good substitute if you can’t get to your regular acupuncture, massage, or bodywork in the time of social distancing. "You can really empower your health from home."