The authentic Swedish
Acupressure Mat

Its Curious History


Acupressure mats have been around for over thirty years and have already been successfully used by millions of people.

Some may then wonder why they are only now becoming popular in the West and how come the first Western country to widely adopt them was Sweden.

The history of the acupressure mat is indeed a very unusual and intriguing one.

Its inventor was a Russian music teacher named Ivan I. Kuznetsov (no Indian gurus or Tibetan shamans involved…). It is therefore an entirely European product, dating from about thirty-five years ago.

One day, Mr Kuznetsov set out to get rid of an annoying insect infestation that had been plaguing the school he taught at for some time.

He wore a protective mask and suit but, crucially, forgot to put gloves on (probably not being fully aware of the high toxicity of the insecticide he was spraying around). Unfortunately, his hands came into contact with said insecticide, damaging his peripheral blood flow and causing chronic pain and muscle spasms so severe he was unable to move his limbs for weeks.

Having tried numerous treatments, he found only acupuncture was able to relieve his pain and improve his overall health. However, in 1970s Soviet Union, acupuncturists in state facilities were few and far between. And those in private facilities were too expensive as he needed repeated and prolonged sessions.

For this reason, he started performing acupuncture on himself. However, he soon realized he was unable to stimulate the right meridians, which in his case were those running along his back.



So, he invented the first, basic acupressure mat. He took a used rubber mat and stuck about a thousand drawing pins into it. He placed the pins at a set distance from one another in order to obtain a specific “pin density”. This way, when lying on the mat, he would be able to spread the weight of his body uniformly on the pins and not get his skin pierced by any one of them. And, albeit quite rudimentary, the mat worked!

And it worked thanks to the most elementary laws of physics, the ancient principles of acupuncture and the ability of scraping through, which the citizens of the Soviet Union most certainly did not lack.

In 1979, Kuznetsov submitted a patent application for his invention, which was granted the following year.

Almost immediately, the mat gained growing notoriety by word of mouth. So much so that, in that same year, an article about it was published in the Pravda. It described Kuznetsov’s mat as a product of Soviet ingenuity, easy to manufacture and accessible to everyone: a dream come true for Soviet propaganda…

In 1981, the prestigious Inventor and Rationalizer featured an article on the mat, analyzing it more thoroughly and scientifically. There followed numerous clinical studies carried out by various Muscovite research institutes, the full results of which, alas, were never published.

What was made public, however, was that the percentage of users claiming to have benefited from the mat was an astonishing 93 per cent!

Many anecdotal stories about Kuznetsov’s mat also appeared in the Soviet press. In one such story, a Russian babushka, who had been suffering from insomnia for years, was reported to have fallen into a deep sleep after lying on the mat for just fifteen minutes.

Myth or reality, we will probably never know. We must also remember that in the former Soviet Union there was no government agency tasked with certifying medical studies or approving medical devices (such as the FDA in the United States). A new drug or medical device had to be approved by the Ministry of Health, which in any case immediately allowed the production and sale of the mat under the name of “Kuznetsov Iplikator”.



Kuznetsov himself became the general manager of the co-operative set up to manufacture the Iplikator. And when production came to a halt following the collapse of the Soviet Union, overall sales of the Iplikator were said to have been in excess of 70 million units.

Whereas doubts still persist about the veracity of the 70 million figure, what is indisputable is that, after the fall of the Soviet Union, we Westerners gained access to dozens of products and inventions which Soviet citizens had enjoyed and benefited from for decades.

One thing is certain: if you ask any middle-aged person in any country of the ex-USSR (Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, etc.) whether they have ever heard of the Kuznetsov Iplikator, they will inevitably answer yes.

In fact, it was the health practitioners of the newly independent Baltic countries who, in the 1990s, first acquainted their Swedish counterparts with the benefits of the acupressure mat.

Over time, many versions of the mat were manufactured. Some made of plastic, some of foam rubber, some inflatable and some to be strapped around the body.

However, with its special eco-friendly vegetable fibres and unique balanced-density 33-tip florets, the Mysa acupressure mat truly represents the final stage of evolution of the Kuznetsov Iplikator.

(Bibliography and Sources: 1. Bauer, M. – The Healing Power of Acupressure and Acupuncture, Penguin Books Inc. USA, 2005 / 2. Chernavski, D., Karp, Rotshtdt, M. – “On Neurophysiological Mechanism of Acupuncture Therapy” – The Physical Instit. of Russian Acad. of Sciences, 1991, No 150 / 3. Taken from: “”)


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