So, you love your new sit stand desk, but it’s reminding you why you spent so much time in your chair to begin with: standing is hard on your feet. We found out the hard way, after standing on our poured concrete showroom floors for hours at a time. Once we came across anti-fatigue mats, it was a no-brainer; we were able to stand for longer periods without experiencing pain in our feet and calves.
When you invest in a height adjustable desk it’s well worth adding an anti fatigue mat to your new set up. The good news is you’re likely only looking at an investment of $60. It especially makes sense if you've spent many years sitting in an office chair, because your body will need to get used to a new way of working. Think of it as an inexpensive chair for your feet.
Standing to work means rarely used muscles in your feet, calves and even upper legs suddenly have to support your body’s weight. While this isn't normally a major problem, an anti fatigue mat will help to cushion the load.
You might think it won’t make much difference. Most offices are carpeted, so wouldn’t that be enough support? Office carpets and carpet tiles typically don't have much give in them and are actually firmer to stand on for long periods than you might imagine.
Adding extra support in the form of a plush anti-fatigue mat makes sense, even before knowing the specific benefits.
What are the benefits of an anti-fatigue mat?
When you stand to work, particularly when you haven't done so regularly, it’s surprising how quickly your feet and calves tire. The connection between body and floor is pretty firm meaning that your feet and leg muscles suddenly have to do a lot more to support you. A good quality anti-fatigue mat forms a cushion between you and the floor and helps take the harshness out of standing.
A properly designed mat will offer comfortable resilience and remove the hard connection. And it’s not a good idea to just pick any old mat or area rug for sit stand working.
What should you look for in an anti-fatigue mat?
It’s easy to think that all that’s needed is a slab of foam rubber, surely that will do? There’s a bit more to it than that. The core of an anti-fatigue mat will indeed be foam rubber based, but not just any old rubber. When you use cheap foams they just flatten and bottom out meaning you gain no benefit. What’s needed is a durable closed cell sponge which is designed to be resilient and retain its springiness so you really do get a proper cushioning effect.
Other types of mats should be avoided too. Many of these have been designed for use in manufacturing and are intended to form a gasket between workers and cold concrete floors. These sorts of mats are usually rigid and firm and don’t have any give in them. Let’s look at what’s needed for the office.
What makes a good choice of anti-fatigue mat for the office?
As we have have already seen, the core of the mat should be made from high quality, closed cell sponge. When this level of foam is used it’s possible to get good comfort with a sponge thickness between 3/8” to 3/4” thick.
Just a minute, isn't there a chance you will trip over the mat? With a well designed mat the sponge core is generally encapsulated in high quality plastic. Not only that the edges should be chamfered all round to avoid being a trip hazard. Carefully taking these points into consideration will help you select the right mat.
In our experience, the anti-fatigue mat is a simple addition to your sit-stand routine. In our showroom, when we aren’t using the mat, we simply slide it under the desk and hop back in a chair for a spell. In fact, take a look at the image next to this post. I snapped a photo while writing to give you a sense of how we work. After a year and a half of daily use on our anti-fatigue mats, they still hold their shape well and are thankfully very easy to clean.
Let’s quickly summarize the main points we've covered here:
- An anti-fatigue mat is a great low cost addition to a height adjustable desk
- It helps cushion your feet and calves when you start standing to work
- Standing on firm surfaces can be quite tiring
- A good anti-fatigue mat will have a high quality closed cell sponge core
- Industrial or rigid mats aren't suitable for sit stand working
- Chamfered edges all round minimize any trip hazard
The perfect mat for your adjustable height desk
We’ve carefully researched suitable mats and recommend the Rhino anti-fatigue range of mats. You can find out what’s available here.