An anti fatigue mat is a mat specially designed to help reduce the fatigue associated with standing for long periods of time.
To some extent, we have all experienced how uncomfortable standing for long periods of time can be. However, there are certain professions and situations where standing for hours at a time on a daily basis is common.
Anti-fatigue mats are designed for these cases since they provide support and help prevent the many health problems associated with long periods of standing.
You have probably seen antifatigue mats in kitchens or stores. They are available in a variety of colors, materials, sizes, and shapes to match both the surroundings and the needs of the user.
There is no particular health hazard in standing. Standing is a natural human posture. However, there are health hazards associated with standing in one position for long periods of time on a daily basis.
Regardless of correct bench height, using quality shoes and the condition of the floor covering, just standing in and of itself for an entire working day can have detrimental effects on knees, ankles, feet, lower back, neck and shoulders, circulation, and increase general muscle fatigue.
Besides the physical discomfort that can be caused by standing, also think of the emotional effects that this trouble can cause. Being in pain or uncomfortable can make people grumpy, stressed, and unfriendly, which will obviously affect the working environment and customer service.
Using anti-fatigue mats will greatly reduce, and help prevent the many physical and emotional effects that are caused by long periods of standing.
Here are the most common health complications associated with standing:
Keeping the body in an upright position, particularly in a proper posture requires a lot of effort. In fact, the Cornell University Ergonomics Labs states that standing requires up to 20% more energy than sitting down.
If a person is experiencing tiredness in the legs or feet, they will try to mitigate this by changing their posture, often by slouching. This slouching can then cause stiffness and pain in the neck, shoulder and back muscles.
When standing, the weight of the body itself compresses the joints. The weight of the torso places pressure on the joints of the hips, the weight of the torso and hips places pressure on the knees, and the weight of the entire body places pressure on the feet.
When standing this pressure is static, there is pressure on the joints, but there is no movement. This static pressure reduces the normal lubrication and cushioning of the joints, causing them to tear more easily resulting in a lot of pain and difficulty moving.
When standing, gravity pulls blood to follow the general downtrend, so it moves from the upper into the lower part of the body. Blood is returned to your heart via a variety of mechanisms that include cyclical contractions that work with your heart valves to prevent the blood from ever flowing back down.
However, after prolonged standing, the valves can become weak and fail, so the cyclic muscle contractions are limited due to the contractions that the muscles have to perform to keep the person standing. This can result in the blood not being able to flow back to the heart correctly, and thus pool in the legs, forcing the veins there to expand.
Muscle fatigue is prevalent in people who stand for long periods of time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recorded that muscle fatigue and other muscle related disorders account for over 30% of all injuries reported by workers.
Standing requires a lot of joints and muscles to be engaged to keep the person from falling over. While these muscles are engaged, they are not receiving they get from circulation.
Standing for a long time frame means that the same muscles are engaged and working without rest or proper nourishment. The muscles then become exhausted or fatigued, which can result in pain and swelling, particularly in the lower back, legs, ankles, and feet.
Unfortunately, all these complications work on each other and sustain each other, potentially creating a painful loop of discomfort. Prolonged standing can cause both short- and long-term complaints, like:
There are a lot of jobs that require workers to spend a lot of time on their feet. Anyone in these professions has an increased risk of experiencing any of the complications associated with prolonged periods of standing still. These are some of the most common:
CNN published an article in 2011 that counts the top 10 jobs that require the most time standing. In this article, retail is firmly in first place.
Not much has changed since then, in a survey published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, retail jobs still rank in the first place of jobs that require people to spend a lot of their time standing up.
Whether in supermarkets, department stores or name brand stores, salespersons and cashiers notoriously spend the majority of their working shift on their feet, sometimes up to 10 hours a day. During high consumer-seasons, like Christmas the amount of time that people on retail spend standing can increase to even more.
Kitchen jobs like food preparations, cooking, baking, and dishwashing all require long periods of standing at the different workstations. Whether in restaurants, fast food restaurants, commercial kitchens or even at home, preparing, cooking and serving food requires a tremendous amount of time standing.
Much like kitchen staff, bartenders and baristas, due to the nature of their job, spend a lot of time on their feet. However, unlike kitchen staff, bartenders and baristas have a lot more contact with customers.
Suffering from painful joints or fatigued muscles will not only negatively affect the health of bartenders and baristas but also potentially negatively impact the service provided to customers. A bartender in pain will find it a lot harder to offer a positive service for customers.
In a production line, raw materials are put through a refining process to produce an end product or components that are then assembled into a finished product. In assembly lines, different parts added in sequence until the final product is constructed.
In both cases, humans continue to be an indispensable part of the process. These workers usually perform repetitive tasks while standing for long periods of time at a moving belt or machine.
There are many professions where long periods of continuous standing still is part of the job. This includes the following:
Bank workers, carpenters, casino workers, catering staff, engineers, pharmacists, hair stylists, health care workers, laboratory technicians, large-scale laundry workers, library staff, mechanics, museum workers, receptionists, security staff, surgeons, teachers, train drivers, warehouse staff, welders, and more.
For anyone who spends a considerable amount of time standing an anti-fatigue mat is essential. In fact, doctors associated with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health suggest that one of the most effective ways of preventing or reducing the adverse effects of prolonged standing is using a unique standing mat.
Considering the amount of time and money that could be spent on correcting the health complications associated with prolonged standing, it's best to reduce the risks by using anti fatigue mats.
People who already suffer from circulation problems or have foot, knee or back pain need to consider using an anti-fatigue mat as soon as possible.
Whether at the kitchen counter, bathroom sink, workbench, store counter or assembly line, anti fatigue mats can reduce a lot of health risks. These mats are available for personal and commercial use, so there is always an antifatigue mat that is appropriate.
Anti-fatigue mats work by forcing the body to make frequent adjustments, i.e., not be static. The cushioning attributes of anti fatigue mats encourage the standing person to keep making subtle movements targeting the hips, legs, and feet. While the actions may be small, they are very significant regarding health benefits.
Antifatigue mats also offer to serve as a cushion for the feet, which reduces the pain in the balls and heels of the feet. If you have ever stood on an anti-fatigue, you know how comfortable they are.
Aside from health benefits, anti-fatigue mats also offer a few other vital benefits for the user. We have compiled a list of the benefits you can expect for an anti-fatigue mat.
By encouraging movement, anti-fatigue mats help maintain the condition of the circulatory system, particularly in the legs. The blood is, therefore, better able to flow back to the heart, in turn decreasing the strain on the circulatory system in the rest of the body. The increased circulation also helps decrease muscle fatigue.
Because an anti-fatigue mat encourages the person standing on them to make weight distribution adjustments, the pressure on joints in the lower body is reduced.
By moving and redistributing weight, the joints can get intermittent relief from the pressure of weight and gravity. Moving the joints also keeps them lubricated and supple.
Again, because anti-fatigue mats encourage movement, the muscles that are engaged while standing is alternated. Muscles get a chance to rest and receive nourishment through circulation. The amount of time every single muscle is static and continuously engaged is reduced. This goes a long way in reducing muscle fatigue.
Anti-fatigue mats reduce discomfort in legs and feet, not only by increasing circulation, reducing joint compression, decreasing muscle fatigue, but also because of its shock absorbing qualities.
Because the person standing on them is more comfortable than the alternative of the bare floor, he or she will also be better able to maintain good posture.
Anti fatigue mats have an anti-slip surface on the bottom that can prevent injury from slipping and falling. They feature static dissipation and chemical resistance, so anti fatigue mats are safe for use in electrically sensate environments.
Because the cushioning that anti-fatigue mats offer, they can also reduce the risk of damage to falling objects.
Anti fatigue mats don’t need special products to clean or install. They are easy to maintain and keep clean and are, likewise, easy to move around. They can be used by anyone in a variety of environments without specialist knowledge or preparation.
There are many types of anti-fatigue mats depending on whether their intended use. There are mats specifically designed for an industrial setting where people can spend a lot of hours standing at the same workstation. Other mats are lighter and designed for use in the home or at standing desks.
In general, there are three materials commonly used in anti-fatigue mats:
Antifatigue mats made of foam or memory foam are the most common and readily available type of anti-fatigue mats. Foam mats are typically between 1 quarter to 3 quarters of an inch thick and are easily customizable regarding shape.
These mats are mostly used in home settings, like bathrooms, kitchens, garage work- or hobby benches, and laundry rooms. They offer sufficient comfort and anti-fatigue properties for everyday jobs around the house at an accessible price.
Foam mats are best used for light duty work around the house but are not suitable for workers who spend many hours a day standing on a regular basis.
Anti-fatigue mats made of foam and rubber offer a combination of a foam interior and a rubber coating. This makes foam rubber mats more durable than a pure foam mat. These types of mats usually have a very high-grade foam on the inside of the rubber, and the rubber makes the mat more resistant to use.
Foam Rubber mats are usually found in working environments that are not industrial, like for standing desks or retail, since they offer a lot of support and comfort while also being able to resist a lot of use.
Antifatigue mats made of rubber are the most durable types of anti-fatigue mats. While they are low on conform (cushioning), they are sturdy, offer excellent support and are incredibly durable. They are most commonly used in commercial or industrial settings like in machine shops, wood shops, manufacturing, etc.
Rubber anti fatigue mats are resistant to chemicals, easy to clean, and because of their structure (usually have holes or a honeycomb structure) liquids or hazardous particles don't rest on the top.
Because of this, the worker is protected from slipping and from coming in contact with possibly dangerous materials or extreme temperatures. This is also why you can find them in commercial kitchens.
Gel-filled anti fatigue mats are the most ergonomic or fatigue preventative mats. They contain a gel-filled center covered by a harder exterior (usually polyurethane).The gel-filled interiors offer a lot of comfort and support, allowing people to take full advantage of all the health benefits of anti-fatigue mats.
The gel antifatigue mat covers can come in a wide array of colors and designs, so they are sure to fit your home or office.
These types of mats are not suitable for the harsh conditions of commercial use but are perfect for at home use. They tend to be more durable than foam mats, and some manufacturers even offer warranties that span many years.
The best size of the anti-fatigue mat is determined by the area where it is going to be used. The mat needs to cover the area where most of the standing will take place.
Keep in mind that it's incredibly annoying to have to step on and off the mat consistently, so you should make sure that the mat is big enough to avoid having to spend any time standing with one foot on and one foot off the mat. This inconsistency can actually aggravate posture issues.
For home use here are a couple of standard sized available for antifatigue mats:
If you are purchasing an anti fatigue mat to place in front of the kitchen sink or stove, then the 2ft x 3ft size is probably big enough. If however, you want to place the mat in a more transited area, then choose a bigger size. If the standard sizes don’t fit in the place where you need to use it the mat, most companies offer a custom-size service.
The most important consideration for determining the size of a commercial anti-fatigue mat is the same as for home use. The mat needs to fit the space where most of the standing and walking will take place.
In commercial kitchens, for example, most anti fatigue mats are long runner types. For counters, most mats can be 2ft x 3ft. For best results, measure the area where the mat is going to be used and use those measurements when purchasing the mat.
The great thing about antifatigue mats is that they are very easy to maintain and clean. They are safe and can last a long time with proper care.
To avoid tripping accidents, make sure the mat has sloped edges that taper towards the floor. This tapering also makes it easier for carts or vacuum cleaners to roll over them. Most anti-fatigue mats have an anti-slip bottom, but make sure just in case since a slipping mat can cause accidents.
The integrity of the anti-fatigue mat is essential, not only for sanitary reasons but also to ensure it can keep providing the comfort and support for which it was purchased. Keeping that in mind, be aware that most mats are susceptible to punctures from, for example, falling knives, high heels, etc.).
Anti-fatigue mats are also vulnerable to chemicals (with the exceptions of rubber mats) that are acidic or oily. Avoid using solvents, oil-based cleaners or similar, as these may crack the cover of the mat making it harder to clean and eventually diminishing its supportive properties.
Regardless of the material or type of anti-fatigue mat used, if the mat is used in the kitchen or bathroom, it needs to be cleaned regularly. Make sure you read the instructions and guidelines provided by the manufacturer to avoid using cleaners that will harm the mat.
You should dry-mop, sweep or vacuum the mat regularly and when necessary wash. In most cases, using plain water and mild soap (4 to 9 pH value) will be the best option for cleaning most mats.
Anti-fatigue mats with holes or a honeycomb structure, as commonly found in commercial kitchens, need to be lifted and removed order to clean the floor underneath. Since these mats are usually made of rubber, they can be easily hosed off or washed with detergent when necessary.
Anyone who spends prolonged periods of time standing can benefit from using an anti-fatigue mat. People spend a lot of time standing at the kitchen sink and stove, at standing desks, in laundry rooms, the bathroom, and the garage or at work. An anti-fatigue mat can work in all these situations.
Standing for long periods of time on a regular basis has negative effects on the body, sore feet, bad circulation, muscle fatigue and overall soreness. Using an antifatigue mat can help prevent and alleviate these issues and should be used on a regular basis in a variety of standing situations.
The number of available sizes, materials, and finishes mean that you can place an anti-fatigue mat anywhere in your home and workplace. There is a mat suitable for any situation where people are spending a significant amount of time on their feet.