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Anti-fatigue mats are a special kind of floor mat designed to reduce fatigue caused by standing for long periods of time on a hard floor or surface. A lot of people have to stand for long periods of time at their job, and an anti-fatigue mat can help to reduce the pain and discomfort that this can cause.
Anti fatigue mats have also become very popular for people who stand for extended periods of time while working in the kitchen. And, of late, workers who use standing desks have begun to use anti-fatigue mats below their desks to help them throughout the day.
Anti-fatigue mats are made from a variety of different materials, including rubber, carpeting materials, vinyl, and wood. In this article, we will walk you through the various benefits that come from an anti-fatigue mat, and who should consider using one.
- How Do Anti-Fatigue Mats Work?
- Why Use Anti-Fatigue Mats?
- When Should Anti-Fatigue Mats Be Used?
- What Are The Long Term Consequences Of Prolonged Standing?
- Jobs That Are Affected The Most: Are You In The Risk Group?
- Benefits of Anti-Fatigue Mats
- Types of Anti Fatigue Mats
How Do Anti-Fatigue Mats Work?
While standing on a hard floor surface is very uncomfortable, it can also cause physical fatigue.
Your leg muscles can become stagnant. They may feel overworked as you stand for a long time.
Consequently, blood flow is significantly decreased and the body can start to feel overall fatigue and discomfort.
In the long term, the long-standing job can cause chronic pains in various parts of the body.
In situations when you need to stand for a long time, your heart is required to work more intensely in order to pump blood through these constricted parts of your body. In turn, as your heart uses more energy to work harder, the overall level of fatigue rises.
However, if you use an anti-fatigue mat, your muscles will constantly contract and expand, while they adjust to the surface of the flexible mat.
These small muscle movements increase the flow of blood. Therefore, the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart is on the rise, too. Just like that, the anti-fatigue mat reduces the overall level of fatigue.
Why Use Anti-Fatigue Mats?
Some people use anti-fatigue mats to decrease foot and lower limb disorders. For instance, if you need to stand for long periods of time, you may be a potential user of anti-fatigue mats.
However, solely using the anti-fatigue mat might not be enough in some cases. Such problems as sore feet, legs, knees, and hips or experience with discomfort and tiredness might require additional means of aid.
The key things that a long-standing worker should pay attention to include the design of the work, the footwear, and the flooring material at the work place.
Nevertheless, one should remember that irrespective of the quality of shoes and flooring material, just standing for long time periods is a very tiring experience for the human body.
Therefore, anti-fatigue mats come as necessary relief for the employees, whose job requires standing for a long time.
When Should Anti-Fatigue Mats Be Used?
When you are trying to ease the discomfort in your feet, either from standing too long or standing on a hard floor surface, you basically have two options:
- Appropriate footwear with shock-absorbing insoles
- Anti Fatigue Mat
In a perfect world, you should do both. Make sure to use shoes that have been designed to support ample walking, and purchase an anti-fatigue insole to add to your shoe.
However, you will get added benefit from using an anti-fatigue mat. The mat will provide much more padding, greatly reducing the impact your shoes (and feet) have to absorb.
The use of anti-fatigue mats will certainly ease the soreness of your feet when combined with proper footwear?
What Are The Long Term Consequences Of Prolonged Standing?
How does our body react to prolonged standing?
While standing is a natural human posture, and by itself is not dangerous for health, long-standing can cause a number of health problems.
If your job requires you to stand for long periods, you need to know the potential risks for your health. Working in a standing position on a regular basis can cause the following:
- Sore feet
- Plantar fasciitis
- Swelling of the legs
- Varicose veins
- Cardiovascular disorders
- General muscular fatigue
- Low back pain
- Stiffness in the neck and shoulders
- High blood pressure
Keeping your body in a standing position forces the muscles to work tirelessly, especially when you are standing still for a long time. Just as mentioned before, when the muscles are constricted, the blood flows much slower through the body. As a result, we get tension in the legs, back, and neck.
In addition, sluggish blood flow accelerates the start of fatigue. It also causes pain and even long-lasting injury to body tissue. The insufficient blood flow also can cause plantar fasciitis, flat feet, arthritis, low back pain, high blood pressure, and more.
When you frequently stand for long periods of time without any rest breaks, the blood pools in the legs and feet. This can cause inflammation in your veins. The swelling might result in chronic and very painful varicose veins.
Prolonged standing tends to cause the joints in the knees, spine, hips, and feet to become briefly locked or immobilized. This poses a risk of rheumatic diseases that are linked to progressive damage to the tendons and ligaments.
In fact, scientists found significant relationships between the time spent standing at work and the progression of atherosclerosis. Specifically, prolonged standing can lead to particular cardiovascular disorders.
Slouching is another reason why you would want to avoid standing for a long time without rest. The right posture is what people usually refer to as a neutral spine. On the contrary, slouching is an inadequate posture or movement of the spine.
Let’s see some examples of potential risks of long-standing.
Each body part is constricted by all the above parts of the body. For instance, our torso and head are compressing the hips. Yet, the biggest pressure is directed to our feet. The weight of the entire body is held by our legs.
Now, our joints are not solid substances. They are more flexible. Thus, when a joint is compressed, it cushions the overall weight that is put on the certain part of the body.
However, when the joint stays compressed for a long time, body fluids get squeezed out of it. The more pressure put on the joint the fewer body fluids are inside it.
Eventually the joint becomes malnourished and is not fit anymore to cushion the weight of the body. Yes, unfortunately most of our body parts are subject to wear and tear.
Insufficient Blood Flow In The Legs
As we stand, the gravity pulls the blood down into our feet. Then, the blood needs to come back to the heart. In order to do this, our body uses cyclic muscle contractions.
However, if the muscles are busy keeping you in the upright position, the usual circulation of body fluids takes more time. This can eventually result in the blood pooling in your legs, which in turn can lead to varicose veins.
Postural Muscle Fatigue
Postural joints and muscles keep the body from falling when you are walking or standing. These joints and muscles also require nourishment. The main way of getting this nourishment is proper circulation. Moreover, muscles also need rest in order to recover from work.
Thus, standing for a long time forces muscles and joints to over work without the necessary nourishment. Additionally, without the rest breaks, muscles become exhausted. In turn, this causes pain.
Jobs That Are Affected The Most: Are You In The Risk Group?
In general, all employees need to have breaks from time to time, regardless of the position they work in. Sitting can also be very bad for the spine if your posture is incorrect.
However, there are some people whose job requires them to stand all day long. These employees have a higher risk of fatigue development. It is recommended to use anti-fatigue mats, both for healing and as a prophylactic for long-standing health consequences.
Here are 9 jobs that are in the risk group for various health issues caused by prolonged standing:
People who work in stores usually spend their day in a standing position. They can be standing at the cash register or putting the products on shelves. Either way, people at retail stores usually go for a long time without rest breaks.
There is one tip for those who work at the stores. Do a little exercise as you serve customers. Bend and unbend your knees, for instance. Always keep proper posture with your shoulders back, hips tucked under, and knees unlocked.
Just remember your feelings after visiting a museum. Probably, besides mental satisfaction, you felt tiredness and maybe even heaviness in your legs. Now imagine what a guide feels. He or she gives hours and hours of tours all over the museum on a regular basis.
3. Health Care
People working in a health care also tend to spend a lot of time on the move. Surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, dentists are all employees involved in the risk group.
Where surgeons are required to stand during hours of long operations, other medical workers, such as pharmacists are always standing at the counter, selling medicines day and night.
Some perceive hairdressing profession as an easy occupation. However, people will always need to get a haircut, and the queue can last all day long. As a result, hairdressers often spend a working day with no rest.
5. Food Services
Often, workers in the food service industry might be younger, and thus not as effected by standing fatigue. However, this does not protect them from long-term health issues that are caused by standing for long periods of time, as they spend a great amount of time on their feet.
This challenge extends to workers on all sides of the food service industry. Servers, bussers, and bartenders are typically always walking while on the job. Chefs, cooks, and cleaners, while not always walking, typically stand in one place for a long period of time.
6. Mail Carriers
Many in the mail delivery industry walk from house to house delivering mail. However, whether delivering mail, or sorting, standing for long periods of time is very common in this industry.
Teachers and professors typically present their lectures and sessions while standing. For many teachers, they are presenting all day long.
One positive is that teachers usually have breaks during the day. And, they typically have extended holiday breaks and a lengthy summer vacation.
Even so, teachers commonly suffer from standing fatigue, and would benefit from an anti fatigue mat to stand on as they present.
8. Design and Art
Most of the designers and artists prefer to work in a standing position since it allows them to see the overall picture more clearly.
Needless to say, prolonged standing while creating on a daily basis can also bring back and leg pain along with some other potential problems.
Benefits of Anti-Fatigue Mats
Lets examine the benefits of anti-fatigue mats in detail.
Anti-fatigue mats were created in order to prevent any kind of damage and injury, and to provide comfort to people while standing. Moreover, these mats are ergonomic, which means they are specifically designed to provide comfort while you stand on them.
In addition, they prevent slippage with the help of special grips on the sides. The rubber surface of the anti-fatigue mats also aids in preventing injuries.
Furthermore, anti-fatigue mats manufacturers normally use the environment-safe materials for the production of mats. These items are chemical resistant and static dissipate. These features of anti-fatigue mats are very useful, since they can be used safely near power sources.
However, this is not all of the benefits of anti-fatigue mats. While using these mats, you will be able to:
- Reduce lower back pain
- Promote good posture
- Prevent stiffness in your joints
- Reduce headaches
- Reduce energy consumption
- Reduces foot pressure
- Increase productivity
Moreover, anti-fatigue mats offer better resistance and shock absorption. Most of the business buildings/offices/factories have concrete floors. Those can potentially damage your joints and legs since they do not provide a special layer of shock absorbing material.
Anti-fatigue mats decrease the pressure on your spinal cord. While standing for long periods of time, the muscles on your back and your spine work hard. Anti-fatigue mats are proved to reduce the spinal compression by up to 40%.
These mats also fuel the blood circulation in your body. Just as we discussed before, prolonged standing causes slower blood flow. Anti-fatigue mats are specifically created to allow your blood to flow more freely, thus decreasing fatigue levels.
As for alternative benefits, anti-fatigue mats can also reduce the risk of breaking or damaging falling objects from your working desk. For instance, you can save your favorite coffee mug, while using the anti-fatigue mat.
Another great thing about these mats is that they are very easy to clean and maintain. Moreover, you can move them around with zero effort.
Types of Anti Fatigue Mats
Let’s look at what types of mats exist and what the differences are between them.
There is a vast choice of different anti-fatigue mats materials. Every type of mat is specifically created with its unique features and functions. Let’s take a look at the key types of anti-fatigue mats.
Foam anti-fatigue mats are the most commonly used anti-fatigue mats in the world. The structure of the foam mat is comprised of trapped pockets of air or gas.
This structure provides an elastic surface, which acts as a cushion for standing. Foam anti-fatigue mats are available in two different structure classifications: open-cell and closed-cell structure.
Open-Cell Foam Mats
These foams are also known as reticulated foams. The pores are controlled within the open-cell structure. They are also connected to each other. This creates a special structure that is able to act as a soft cushion.
The cells tend to fill themselves with whatever is around them such as air. This kind of foam mat is very soft and cushy.
Closed-Cell Foam Mats
You can tell from the name, the pores of these mats are closed. They are not created to be filled with anything, and they are not interconnected. This makes the closed-cell foam mats much denser and stronger than the open-cell ones.
Moreover, they are less absorbent and less cushy. But, they typically last longer.
Both of these foam types of mats will make you feel like you are standing on a pocket of air, irrespective of the cell structure.
Foam mats are usually used in home areas like bathrooms and kitchens. For example, putting one at your kitchen sink is a great idea.
One of the key advantages besides health ones is that these mats are pretty reasonably priced. Note, these mats provide medium ergonomic features and anti-fatigue functions.
Gel anti-fatigue mats are usually made from the dense gel-like substance. The material is then covered in some strong layer of matting. The mats with gel fillers tend to be a little bit pricier than the foam ones, yet they offer a great pain relief. Gel types of mats normally have a soft structure.
However, these mats are not recommended for use in the warehouses or other industrial settings. This is due to the fact that any dropped sharp subject could pierce the mat and it would be destroyed.
Rubber mats are a highly functional type of mats. They are very ergonomic and flexible. The rubber properties of these mats make them a perfect supportive and supple surface for standing.
According to the PH. D., Craig Freudenrich, rubber is a special type of polymer that is called an elastomer. He further explains that this a large molecule that can be expanded to at least twice its size.
Moreover, it easily comes back into its initial shape.
Additionally, rubber surfaced mats can be made with a very soft or a very hard structure. Such features exists due to the process called vulcanization. During this procedure, raw rubber is expanded and synthetic options are created. This gives the material new properties.
This is a very notable property of the rubber. Where a soft anti-fatigue mat can be considered by someone who remains still while standing, the harder models of the mat are perfect for those who also walk and move around at a working place.
While anti-fatigue matting is a great option to support your health and prevent any issues, it also can be very affordable. I will be honest. I did not know about anti-fatigue mats until my mom, who is pharmacist, started to have leg pain after standing at the counter for hours.
I decided to research the problem and found the perfect solution. However, I was shocked by the variety of anti-fatigue mats on the market and I did not know how to make the best choice.
In order to get the best anti-fatigue mat for my mother, I performed thorough research. You can read the results in my best anti-fatigue mat buying guide. I have summarized the key features of a good mat, how to choose the best one, and give you a number of affordable options. Stay tuned!