With the advent of standing desks and when the nature of your work or hobbies requires standing positions, fatigue and discomfort can often set in. Getting a good quality anti-fatigue mat could alleviate the pain, fatigue and discomfort that you are experiencing. But how do anti-fatigue mats work?
I reached out to manufacturers, product specialists and users of these products to obtain reliable answers. I queried them on how long do anti-fatigue mats last and should you wear shoes on a fatigue-reducing mat. I also cover how to use anti-fatigue mats?
If you want to know the answer, you better get reading!
How do anti-fatigue mats work?
Anti-fatigue mats work by applying cushioning and support to your legs, feet and back while you stand. When you are standing on your feet, anti-fatigue mats encourage regular micro-movements in your feet which promote blood movement through the veins. These fatigue-reducing mats offer extra support to take the pressure off the heel and balls of the feet so that pressure is more evenly distributed throughout the foot. Consequently, you should feel more comfortable for longer periods when compared with standing on a regular hard surface or carpet floor.
How to use anti-fatigue mats?
Anti-fatigue mats should be positioned in the center of your work area. When you stand on the mat, you are in the middle of it and not standing on the edges of it. The mat should be used in conjunction with regular rest breaks from standing. Fatigue-reducing mats are generally designed to be used at a standing office desk as opposed to sitting at an office desk. If you are working at an office desk, the mat should be moved out of the way when you intend to use your chair or stool.
Pulling the chair or stool over the mat can cause it to compress and lose shape. Anti-fatigue mats can be used with or without footwear, but this will ultimately depend on personal preference, the work environment and requirements of the job from a safety perspective.
For instance, if you’re working in a workshop, shoes will most likely will be required in the area.
Remember that anti-fatigue mats and standing desks still require you to take regular breaks from standing positions. At the end of the day, static postures should be avoided.
Is it better to stand barefoot or with shoes?
According to a study which compared the effects of floor mats and shoe in-soles on fatigue while standing at an assembly line, it found that:
- Shorter individuals who stood on a mat while wearing insoles felt greater discomfort in their lower back and upper leg.
- Older workers who stood on a hard floor and on a floor mat experienced greater discomfort in their body joints.
In summary, no significant differences were observed in the discomfort and fatigue experienced when comparing floor mats with wearing shoe insoles.
Do you wear shoes on anti-fatigue mats?
There isn’t an agreed verdict whether being barefoot or wearing shoes on anti-fatigue mats is better. Since wearing shoes on anti-fatigue mats can inhibit our movement, the general consensus is that being barefoot on an anti-fatigue mat is the preferred option. This increases the range of micro-movements that can be encouraged by the mat and eliminates the risk of your shoes contributing to poor posture. However, if you have orthopedic shoes prescribed or if you have foot problems, follow the guidance from your specialist.
The type of work environment that the anti-fatigue mat is used in will often dictate whether you can use the anti-fatigue mat barefoot or with shoes on.
For instance, people on a packaging line tend to be required to wear safety footwear as part of the job.
Therefore, using an anti-fatigue mat barefoot is not always an option.
However, in an office environment or even working from home, you may have the luxury of choosing to be barefoot or wearing shoes.
According to a product support specialist for Amco matting, many people in office environments use anti-fatigue mats in their bare feet.
If you do need to wear shoes while standing on an anti-fatigue mat, choose footwear that offer the most support possible.
Tips for the types of shoes to wear standing
- Avoid shoes with heels, instead opt for flat shoes that help you maintain a neutral foot posture.
- Choose shoes with good arch support for your type of foot arch – high, flat or normal arches.
- Opt for shoes with strong soles and shock absorption, e.g., running shoes.
- Choose shoes that are the correct size for you.
- Invest in shoes that are suited for standing, e.g., some podiatrists recommend wearing clogs due to them having a wide toe.
- Dress shoes tend to be less comfortable and offer limited support.
Do anti-fatigue mats work on carpet?
There should be no issue with using anti-fatigue mats in conjunction with carpet floors. Although carpet provides more cushioning than a hard floor surface, it is nowhere near the level of support and comfort that an anti-fatigue mat will provide. Most anti-fatigue mats are designed to work on both hard floors and carpets. In some rare cases, there are mats which are designed to move based on the floor type that it will be applied to. This generally falls into 2 categories, anti-fatigue mats for either carpets or hard surfaces. Paying particular attention to the floor that the mat is designed for will also ensure that it is less likely to slide around the place.
I’ve come across an anti-fatigue mat which allows you to slide the mat in and out of the way by applying a light pressure to a specific spot on the mat and dragging it forwards or backwards.
Applying too much pressure will create resistance and the mat will be difficult move.
This ultimately saves you time, effort and the ergonomic risk of having to bend down and move the mat each time that you want to relocate it.
In summary, anti-fatigue mats are an excellent accessory for people who stand for periods throughout the day. Whether it’s at a fixed location or for people who suffer from fatigue, pain and discomfort from standing.
They are designed to provide extra comfort compared to a hard floor and many people advocate using them barefoot.
However, you can also use fatigue reducing mats with shoes, especially if your work environment warrants it.
My personal recommendation for a fatigue reducing mat would be the Safco Movable Anti-Fatigue Mat. I love that you can easily slide it in and out with your foot, and that it has beveled edges which makes it easier to clean. Plus, no need to worry about wear and tear with a lifetime warranty!
Anti-fatigue mats are often used in conjunction with standing desk chairs. If you’re curious as to how to use a standing chair or wondering are standing desk chairs any good, then you’re not alone. Find out whether a standing chair is worth your while by reading: What is a standing desk chair? A quick user guide
My goal with this website is to help you on all topics related to your home office and your work area. With that in mind, if you have any queries or comments on the above, please drop them in the box below. I would love to hear them.