Gear Guide: A Mat That Offers Sheer Relaxation—or Sheer Torture?
By Su Reid-St. John
Want to get your colleagues’ attention? Ask them if they’d like to lie on a bed of nails. OK, not a real bed of nails, but close. StyleWellness’s AcuMat (aka Spike Mat) is one of the new trends in acupressure mats, and it's created quite a stir around the office.
The idea is simple: The organic cotton-covered foam mat is overlaid with spiky little plastic circles that press on various acupressure points on your body, relaxing the heck out of you. What’s not so simple is convincing most people to lie down on a bunch of sharp little spikes.
I was hesitant myself at first. But I gingerly stretched out with my hips, back, and shoulders on the mat. To my surprise, the spikes actually felt good, making my back feel warm and tingly. After 10 minutes, I was completely relaxed, as if I’d had a wonderful massage. My office neighbor Shaun—whose first view of the mat had elicited an alarmed “Are you really going to lie down on that?”—overheard my sighs of contentment, overcame her reluctance, and had a similarly delightful experience.
Enthused, I brought it home to my husband and coaxed him into trying it on the den floor after we put our 3-year-old to bed (you don’t want a kid around those spikes, believe me). After a few minutes, he looked up at me, puzzled. “Is it supposed to do something?” he asked. Apparently, the bliss-giving has some limitations.
Bemused, I convinced a bunch of my co-workers to give it a try. The consensus? Well, there wasn’t one. Most felt relaxed afterward, a couple blissfully so. Others weren’t impressed (including our intern, Ashley, who cut her finger after moving too suddenly).
So what to make of the AcuMat? It appears that it really depends on who you are. To quote a co-worker, though, “It’s hitting the acupressure points—that’s got to be good. Anyway, it can’t hurt.” At least, not unless you make a sudden move.
Product: StyleWellness AcuMat: ECO
Pros: Lying on it may seriously relax you—and it is far cheaper than multiple appointments with an acupressurist.
Cons: It doesn’t work for everyone, and you’ve got to be careful around those spikes.
Cost: $69.95 at StyleWellness.com
Extra tip: To lessen the intensity, try it atop a soft surface, like a bed.