You finally got your long awaited standing desk and you briefly saw an anti-fatigue mat promotion mentioned during your research but you decided not to buy it because you were not sure if it was worth paying the extra money or not.
From all the people I asked in my workplace who used anti-fatigue mats on a daily basis, all of them told me it was well worth the money,which was the feedback that I often read on many online reviews.
I want to take this opportunity to give you some insights about anti-fatigue mats especially for standing desk users. Although many anti-fatigue mats look alike, you will learn that there are actually some mats that are made for different purposes. Therefore, you want to make sure that you get what truly fits your needs and requirements best.
I am going to explain what anti-fatigue mat is, why it can be helpful, how to use it correctly, and when to use it. After reading this post, my hope is that you will be more knowledgeable and confident to make a decision whether anti-fatigue mats are worth it for you.
What is an anti-fatigue mat and how many different kinds are they?
The simple answer to the question is a mat that is designed and made with certain materials to reduce fatigue caused by long periods of standing on a hard surface. If you work in a typical office environment, your office floor is most likely covered by a padded carpet, which is great for your feet. However, some people have to work and stand on a concrete floor all day long.
With different work environments come anti-fatigue mats made from various materials, such as rubber, gel, vinyl, wood, and carpeting materials. They also come in different colors, sizes and shapes to accommodate different users’ needs. A machine operator in a factory that operates 24/7 will need an anti-fatigue mat with industrial grade materials that are extremely durable but less elegant.
There are a few types of anti-fatigue mats:
1. Gel anti-fatigue mats
This is the best choice for you as a standing desk user. Gel-filled anti fatigue mats are very ergonomic and effective in fatigue prevention. They are commonly used in households and offices as they are not suitable for extreme environments.
2. Foam anti-fatigue mats
You will often find foam anti-fatigue mats in house areas, such as kitchen and bathroom. They are very affordable but less durable compared to gel standing mats. You should not use them for a longer period of time as they compress fairly quick.
3. Foam rubber anti-fatigue mats
Foam rubber anti-fatigue mats are often used in workshops and other rough working environment, such as a garage. They are basically foam mats coated in rubber, which makes them more durable. Therefore, you can stand on them for long hours.
4. Hard rubber anti-fatigue mats
They are the sturdiest mats on the market specifically made to survive in industrial settings. Hard rubber anti-fatigue mats are also chemical resistant and easy to clean. However, they offer less anti fatigue properties and ergonomic design.
Why anti-fatigue mats can be helpful especially for standing desk users?
You already knew that sitting for long hours were not healthy and that’s why you decided to get a standing desk but you might not know you could maximize the benefit from standing desk by using anti-fatigue mats.
When you stand for long periods, sooner or later depending on your footwear and flooring material as well, you can experience discomfort, tiredness and possibly sore feet, legs, knees or hips. Anti-fatigue mats can reduce those issues by giving the cushion and absorbing the pressure from your body.
Here are a few more benefits from standing desk mats:
- Improve blood circulation
A prolonged standing on a hard surface causes leg muscles to tighten and restrict blood flow. Therefore, your heart needs to work harder to pump your blood, which could lead to heart problems in the future. Fortunately, anti-fatigue mats gives you that extra comfort to decrease the pressure.
- Maintain energy level
If you are able to reduce the strain on your muscles, joints, and hearts from long period of standing still, you will be able to conserve energy throughout the day. This will consequently help you avoid feeling exhausted by the end of the day and still enjoy the rest of your evening activities.
- Help to sit less
Believe it or not many of standing desk owners still end up sitting more than they should. There are obviously some valid reasons but one of them has been attributed to the fact that standing can be tiring and uncomfortable. However, if you know that you can feel great while standing, you will most likely choose to stand more.
How to choose the right anti-fatigue mats for standing desk users?
As mentioned earlier, not only would you find different types of anti-fatigue mats but also different sizes, shapes, and colors. So how do you pick the right one for you as a standing desk user? The good news is it is not complicated and at least you already had an idea in mind where to use it so you just eliminated one factor.
If you follow the following steps, you should be satisfied with your purchase:
- Review the material
You need to check what the mats are made from. Since you will stand at least a few hours a day, you need a durable material that will give you comfort at the same time. A softer or thicker mat may not always be better. Choose the one that provides some elasticity. For most people ½” or 3⁄4” thickness should be sufficient.
- Review the size
Unless you have a large working area, a 3’ x 2’ anti-fatigue mat should be enough to cover your standing area. You can obviously get a bigger mat if you plan to move around while you are standing but my experience and observation show a 3’ x 2’ standing mat is the most popular.
- Review the warranty
Just like your standing desk does, your anti-fatigue mat comes with a warranty as well. However, not all of them provide the same type of warranty so make sure you check what it covers and what it does not. You will notice that there is a wide range of warranty period from 1 to 20 years to lifetime. I suggest you get the longest one as possible.
- Review the edges
What do I mean by this? You want your stand desk mat to have sloped edges and anti slip properties. As you move your anti-fatigue mat around, make sure that all edges firmly touch the floor and are not curl. This is very important to minimize tripping hazards.
- Review the performance
This only applies if you can actually test it before you buy or you can easily return it if you are not satisfied. Stand on the mat for 10 seconds and then check whether the mat returns quickly to the original state. The good one will recover fast.
How to take care and maintain your anti-fatigue mats?
Anti-fatigue mats do not require frequent and special maintenance. Otherwise, people will not be that interested to get them. However, there are a few things that you need to know to make your stand desk mat lasted as long as possible.
All of these are common sense things but I have seen one of my coworkers damage his anti-fatigue mat for not taking care of it properly. Here are some things you should do and not do:
- Should you sit on your office chair on a standing desk mat?
No, you should not! Aside from the obvious extra weight you put on your new anti-fatigue mat, you can damage your mat from the chair’s casters or feet. When you need to sit down simply push the mat underneath your desk or to the side.
- Be mindful about sharp objects
Perhaps you have to wear your high heels today to work. If they are particularly sharp, you may not want to use them on your mat. Other sharp objects, such as forks and scissors could potentially puncture the mat if you drop them. These incidents are most likely not going to be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Wash your mat occasionally
You should read the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines for official direction. However, the majority of anti-fatigue mats only need a regular soap and water. I personally suggest you avoid any strong chemical solution to clean up your mat.
Final thoughts before you buy your first anti-fatigue mat
Just because you own a standing desk and an anti-fatigue mat, it does not mean you don’t need to move around. Moving your whole body, such as walking is the best overall strategy for your health. Use your stand desk mat as often as you want but don’t forget to move around.
Your footwear also plays an important role in reducing foot discomfort. You should wear a thick insulating soles and shock-absorbing insoles in addition to stand on a stand desk mat. This strategy will give you the most comfort and ultimately improve your working conditions.
I hope this article helps you with your question whether anti-fatigue mats are worth it for standing desk users.
Please leave me a comment below with your question or your experience about standing desk mats.
To Your Health,