With all the talk these days about how bad sitting is for your health, many people choose to opt for standing desks. While this can be a smart idea, it is important to consider leg and foot health.
Standing in place for long periods is both tiring and uncomfortable. Anti-fatigue mats help with that. They provide a cushioned, shock-absorbing surface to stand on.
When standing in a static position on a hard surface for long periods, the pressure in the veins in your legs increases. This makes it more difficult for the blood to flow into and out of your lower extremities, resulting in your heart working harder to keep the blood circulating properly. Anti-fatigue mats combat this by forcing your muscles to slightly expand and contract in micromovements as your body adjusts to the flexibility of the mat. This improves your circulation to the lower extremities, bringing more oxygen-rich blood to the muscles and reducing fatigue.
Anti-fatigue mats can be classified into one of three categories: flat mats, non-flat active mats, and fully flat active mats.
Flat anti-fatigue mats are the most common and tend to be the best entry-level option. This is because they don’t take much to get used to and are often the most affordable. Most are rectangular, range from half an inch to 1 inch thick, and provide a moderate level of cushioning.
Non-flat active anti-fatigue mats also provide cushioning but have a textured surface designed to promote greater micromovements of the muscles and better circulation. These are also most often rectangular.
Full active anti-fatigue mats have large balls, ridges, acupressure peaks, and other textures or shapes spread across their surface designed to massage your feet and stretch your calves. These tend to have squarish shapes that make them ideal for those working at standing desks, but they are often the most expensive options.
Anti-fatigue mats are exposed to a lot of wear and tear, so they must be durable if you want them to last. This is especially true when using them in commercial settings. Most are made from either foam, a rubber-covered foam or hard rubber. There are also some rubber mats with a gel core. Foam is the least durable but most affordable. Rubber-covered foam is slightly tougher because the rubber coating protects the foam from deteriorating. Finally, full rubber and gel-core mats are the most durable and the least likely to compress over time.
Anti-fatigue mats come in various sizes, with the shortest being about 1.5 feet and the longest 20 feet or more. It is important to match the mat to your needs and available space. For example, if you use a standing desk and stay in one place all day long, you most likely only need a small, square or rectangular mat.
However, if you are looking for something for your kitchen to make cooking all day less tiresome on your feet, you’ll be best served by a long, rectangular mat that allows you to move from one end of your counter to the other.
The thickness of the anti-fatigue mats plays a large role in how effective it is. The majority range from half an inch to 1 inch thick in the main standing area. Fully active mats are notably thicker than those on their raised ridges and balls.
For safety purposes, any mat you purchase must have a nonslip bottom to keep it securely in place.
A beveled edge is helpful for two reasons: It reduces the chances of tripping over the edge when stepping onto the mat and ensures the edges sit flush with the floor so they don’t curl up over time.
For commercial settings, many people opt for a plain black anti-fatigue mat. However, they come in a wide range of solid colors ranging from neutral tones like gray and earth to vibrant options like red and aqua. You can also find them in faux wood and in eye-catching patterns.
Depending on the size and materials, anti-fatigue mats can cost as little as $15 or as much as $300. Even some extra-large options for commercial spaces can cost more than $1,000.
A. To clean an anti-fatigue mat, start by sweeping or vacuuming the debris. Then fill a bucket with a bit of warm water and dish soap. Take the mat and bucket outside and lightly scrub the mat with the solution using a soft-bristle brush or a cleaning rag. Finally, rinse the mat with clean water and hang it to dry before placing it back in your home.
A. The choice of whether or not to wear shoes on your anti-fatigue mat comes down to the situation more so than the mat itself. For example, if it is in a commercial setting, you’ll most likely need to wear shoes, but if using an anti-fatigue mat at home, you may not want to. If you’re wearing shoes, it is important to avoid high heels and other footwear with sharp or pointed bottoms because they can damage the mat.
What you need to know: A durable option that comes in a range of sizes and colors, the Kangaroo anti-fatigue is ideal for home and commercial applications alike.
What you’ll love: It has a three-quarter-inch thick rubber construction that provides a lot of cushioning and won’t compress from constant use.
What you should consider: It tends to slide around and periodically needs to be moved back into place.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: A top choice for those who work at a standing desk, the Genius Mat has a variety of ridges and acupressure points to help you stretch out your calves.
What you’ll love: There is a rolling massager ball in the center of the mat that can be used to loosen plantar fascia and make standing for long periods more comfortable.
What you should consider: Its high sides can be a tripping hazard.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: The Butterfly mat is both attractive and comfortable, making it the perfect addition to a home kitchen.
What you’ll love: It comes in four eye-catching patterns, all of which come in dark and warm tones that blend in well with most decor.
What you should consider: The textured surface can make cleaning difficult.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.