A steady rise in Computers and advanced data networks allow us to do more work even from outside the comfort of an office. However, this has culminated in an increase in health and wellness issues. As a response, companies are exploring ergonomic furniture and other solutions to help their employees cope with the detrimental conditions associated with work environments.
These solutions range from standing desks, yoga balls, and the ever-popular ergonomic office chairs with lumbar support. Anti-fatigue mats are also an integral part of enhanced ergonomics. This fact is especially true if you have a standing desk as such mats provide an elegant solution to sore lower backs, calf muscles, feet, and other leg regions.
According to a study by the University of Loughborough, anti-fatigue mats have a host of benefits for people that need to stand for spans of 90 minutes or longer. So, you can benefit from using these mats even outside your office work, like in the kitchen or at your craft table.
With that said, the internet is full of myths and facts about anti-fatigue or standing desk mats. So today, we’d like to set the record straight and tell you all you need to know about anti-fatigue mats. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get the most out of your time and standing desk after reading this.
Standing Desks and Anti-Fatigue Mats: The Ballad of the Rude Sale Clerk
Did you know that your body was designed to be constantly on the move? A standing desk gives you more freedom in this respect. But, you're also likely to remain rooted to one spot for long intervals. That's why you need to add an anti-fatigue mat to your workstation.
Let’s consider a grumpy salesman at the counter. It’s easy to conclude their misery comes from job dissatisfaction. But, consider the pain they endure while working long shifts standing at the register. Their legs bear all the weight, and they have to hunch their backs to access cash registers, bag purchases, among others. As a result, their lower back, hips, and legs can hurt after a 6-hour + shift.
It would also be hard for you to maintain a sunny disposition while enduring such invisible occupational hazards. A little posture correction can help. But, starting from the ground up with an anti-fatigue mat offers the best way of avoiding the problem altogether.
Aside from enhanced comfort, anti-fatigue mats also improve your circulation, shield you from electrostatic forces, and a host of other benefits that we'll explore in later sections of this article.
What Are the Immediate Benefits of Using an Anti-fatigue Mat in an Office?
Proper Blood Circulation and Shock Absorption for Reduced Muscle Fatigue
How do they do this? Your spine and back muscles work overtime to ensure your body maintains a straight posture. This leads to spinal compression that is more painful the longer you remain on your feet.
This factor sets anti-fatigue mats apart from carpets and area rugs. They provide a soft perch that reduces stress and allows for unrestricted blood flow, which alleviates fatigue in your entire body. Anti-fatigue mats also reduce spinal compression by a factor of up to 40%.
Reduce the Risk of Damaging Falling Objects
Your office and home feature fragile objects like electronics and glassware. Anti-fatigue mats come with a soft foam material that can cushion such objects should they fall.
Reduced risk of electric shock
Electronic manufacturers do their best to ensure their products insulate internal power circuits from exposure. However, all man-made things are prone to error, and our bodies are excellent conductors of electric currents.
There's also the case of computer hardware specialists, electricians, and other professionals tinkering with such circuitry. Getting an anti-fatigue mat can help you break the current flow so that your body doesn’t ground the current.
Reduced risk of slips and falls
Slips and falls are common in all work environments. While an anti-fatigue mat won't stop all related injuries, they provide an effective barrier between the sole of your feet and slippery floors.
Stress-free cleaning and maintenance
Carpets and area rugs consist of fibers that trap dirt and dust, which accumulate with time. Anti-fatigue mats, on the other hand, are cast from one solid piece of foam. This means they don't trap dirt, and you can wipe any grime off the surface with ease.
Key Shopping Considerations for Choosing the Best Anti-Fatigue Mat
Here are the primary factors to consider when looking for the ideal anti-fatigue mat:
Shape and Size
Generally, a square mat works perfectly for office or assembly line settings. But, a rectangular one that's at least 2 x 3 feet is more suited for office receptionists, sales clerks, and other professionals that man counters.
If you're in the market for something to use in your kitchen, gaming station, or craft desk, then you'd need a wider mat. Something around 5 x 8 feet can help you move around as you multitask around your workstation.
Anti-fatigue mats feature various materials in their construction. Here are the most common ones:
These are inexpensive but less durable. They serve best in areas of low foot traffic like doors or washrooms.
Hard-rubber mats are highly durable and have some resistance to chemicals. That’s why they feature in factories and other industrial settings. However, they offer lower shock absorption, so they are less suitable for office work.
Such mats feature a soft foam core wrapped in a sturdy rubber shell. These anti-fatigue mats offer optimal shock absorption and durability, making them the best choice for long-term use in offices.
Gel anti-fatigue mats feature a gel core instead of foam. They cost more than the alternatives and are the best option for muscle rehabilitation therapies.
An anti-fatigue mat offers more depth compared to conventional carpeting. This thick material cradles your feet as they dig in, giving you gradual spinal correction and enhanced blood flow.
Ergonomists recommend a mat thickness of at least ¾ inches for optimal support. Anything thinner may have the opposite effect.
Changes in Work Position
Shifting your weight around and adjusting your posture can help you get less tired as you work by a standing desk. Adding a suitable anti-fatigue mat also helps reduce strain and stress to your legs and can activate your blood circulation. This allows you to stay engaged in your tasks as you're less distracted by discomfort.
Footwear and Flooring
It helps to ensure you lay your mat on a flat surface. This is because Uneven or debris-laden floors can negate the value of an anti-fatigue mat.
Most manufacturers recommend going barefoot on an anti-fatigue mat. But, you can stand on one with footwear provided your shoes don't have sharp heels and hardened soles, e.g., high heels or dress shoes.
Ergonomics is a complicated term for enhanced comfort and efficiency in the workplace. Anti-fatigue mats play a role by reducing strain, aches, and pains in many areas of the body. However, it helps to be mindful of the other criteria on this list to harness the full ergonomic benefits of these mats.
The Most Highly Recommended Anti-Fatigue Mat
Ergonomic Anti Fatigue Mat DM1
The DM1 anti-fatigue mat checks all the criteria in the previous sections making it the ideal mate for your standing desk. It can also serve you well in the kitchen, craft room, or gaming room.
With dimensions of 32.3 x 20.5 inches, this mat gives you loads of room to shift your weight or position as you work. It also packs 2.5 inches of sturdy yet plush polyethylene for enhanced comfort and durability.
As for weight, it tips the scale at 7.26 lbs. Meaning you can’t kick it out of place as you move around your workstation, even in the dark. A handy bonus to note is the massage points spread evenly in the shape of a foot that reduces skidding. These raised mounds take advantage of your natural body movements to stimulate a constant massage.
So, you can stand with your shoes on or take them off to help you relax your mind by encouraging proper blood circulation.
Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat MT1
Working on your feet adds a lot of tedium, even to the simplest of tasks. But all that ends with the MT1 anti-fatigue mat. This Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) mat comes at a thickness of 0.75(¾) inches and displaces an area of 39 x 20 inches. So it's the ideal candidate in your fight against chronic tendonitis, varicose veins, and other symptoms of swollen leg muscles.
The MT1 is suitable for any location, be it an office, drafting table, or even in the kitchen. Its surface features gentle dips that reduce skidding and build-up of static charge. The edges are beveled to minimize curling that can occur with daily use.
The PVC material is water and mold-resistant. And the surface is relatively smooth, so cleaning it is not challenging.
Maintenance Tips for Anti-Fatigue Mats
Anti-fatigue mats have a lifespan of 2-3 years and are often deployed in high foot traffic areas. This leaves them prone to exposure to soil, oil, and greasy residue.
The following tips will help you make your mat last for as long as possible;
Only Use Mild Soaps and Degreasing Agents
Always use water that’s between 600c and 480c to get all the grease and stains off. Such treatment helps prevent grease molecules from forming a permanent bond with the polymers in the mat’s material. Do this once a week for the best results.
No Machine Wash or Hard Brushes
Heavy cleaning techniques can degrade the quality of your mat. Instead, let your mat sit in a water-detergent mixture for at least 15 minutes. From there, you can wipe it gently with a towel, rinse and allow it to drain in a cool shaded area.
Sweep or vacuum over your mat every day as often as possible. Such interventions help reduce dirt, dust, and grime accumulations.
Give Your Mat Some Time to Dry after Washing
Lay your mat flat on the ground after a thorough cleaning. Such a measure ensures you don't add layers of dirt and grease before the foam or rubber material dries properly. It also prevents the anti-fatigue mat from developing curls along the edges.
So there you have it, a practical guide on (almost) everything you need to know about anti-fatigue mats. Just to recap, anti-fatigue mats enhance your comfort, health, and wellness while using a standing desk.
However, you can also employ them in other areas of your office, home, or workshop to experience less fatigue as you stand for long periods. We hope this brief article helps you in some way. Please leave a comment and share this post with your family, workmates, and anyone who needs such help.