How Beneficial are Anti Fatigue Standing Mats?
Standing while working, or shifting between standing and sitting at work, may be the new health trend in many offices today. But more than just being a trend, it is shown to actually provide real health benefits to employees and workers who spend the most part of their day in front of computers.
However, standing for prolonged periods of time also has its own disadvantages – including pressure on key body parts such as the joints and the muscles, from the legs up. To combat these, it is recommended to use an anti-fatigue standing mat when you are standing for longer periods.
What are anti-fatigue standing mats?
These are mats made from either foam, carpeting materials, rubber or vinyl, or even wood. They come in a variety of designs. These mats started with a simple flat surface. Today, however, there are newer and more advanced standing mats, with designs backed by scientific research. So called ‘active standing mats’ are non-flat and are equipped with different features. They are often raised a little bit, and they have ridges and mounds strategically placed on the mat surface to stimulate the feet’s pressure points.
Standing mats also come in different levels of thickness and a specific weight capacity to ensure that they’re able to provide the support needed by their specific users.
How do anti-fatigue standing mats work?
These mats are designed to provide cushion to protect not only the feet and legs but the entire body. The mats are able to do this by absorbing a certain amount of pressure while you’re standing on them. They are generally designed to do the following:
Offer support to the feet and the legs.
They provide a certain amount of padding so that you are standing not on a hard, concrete floor but on a slightly soft surface. This cushion offers support while also absorbing the strain caused by standing to protect both joints and muscles from pressure.
To encourage small amounts of movement while you are standing.
Some of these movements you may not even notice, but these happen as the feet try to constantly adjust to the cushion provided by the mat, and this allows the muscles to keep working.
The benefits of anti-fatigue standing mats
Most of the benefits of a standing mat can be categorized into health benefits, comfort, and productivity. Below are seven of the top benefits you can enjoy from high-quality mats:
They reduce pressure on body parts and prevent corresponding health troubles.
Joint pains, especially on the knees, are often associated with prolonged standing. This is because when you stand, it takes different muscles and bones to balance your body and carry your entire weight – from the feet to the legs, the hips and back, and the shoulders.
Standing for long periods of time compresses these parts of the body, and the repeated strain can take a toll on them after a while, manifesting in problems such as stiffness and swelling, discomfort and pain, as well as conditions like varicose veins and Achilles tendinitis.
Anti-fatigue mats can prevent these and protect body parts from accelerated wear.
They keep muscles working.
Standing on hard floor often leaves the feet planted firmly on the surface and the legs immobile, the muscles frozen in one position, thereby causing stiffness after an hour or two.
Anti-fatigue standing mats can prevent this. Because they’re softer, the mats are slightly unstable, and the feet have to keep shifting to adjust to the instability of the mats. This keeps the feet and legs, and the extending muscles, working and moving. At best, it simulates the movements that happen when a person walks, the muscles continuously contracting and expanding. As a result, there is less pressure, less stiffness, and improved health.
They maintain proper blood flow in the body.
This is a direct effect of the muscles continuously moving, thus allowing the blood to continue flowing from and to different body parts where they are needed.
Studies show that the calf muscles actually help pump blood throughout the body, and so they have to keep moving. Otherwise, when they are stiff from prolonged standing without movement, they are unable to do this function, making the heart work double in pumping blood. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep moving, and that’s possible even when you’re standing in front of a computer for long hours if you have an anti-fatigue standing mat.
They keep you more focused and productive.
A lot of people don’t fully understand just how much discomfort and pain can hamper productivity at work, but the Institute of Medicine says that up to $297 billion worth of workplace productivity is lost annually due to pain.* These are most likely measured in absences incurred by workers due to health conditions. But, if you add poor performance and distractions at work among employees who are reporting but not working in an optimal level due to discomfort, the amount is likely to increase further.
This is one thing that standing mats can help address. Without the discomfort and pain caused by prolonged standing, you can enjoy working for long hours without being bothered. The movement that the mats encourage users to do are so minimal and natural that most people don’t even notice it. With the right mat to support your feet, legs, and muscles, you can work undisturbed for long hours.
They prevent accidents such as slips and falls.
This is especially true for workers in factories, as well as for moms – or dads – working in the kitchen where accidental spills may be common. Concrete floors are susceptible to being slippery when they come in contact with liquid, making them likely to cause accidents.
Anti-fatigue standing mats often come with an anti-slip backing that keeps them in place, and their surface materials are also resistant to slips. Additionally, many of them are tapered so that you don’t trip on them.
They conserve energy and reduce fatigue when standing.
Perhaps the main reason these standing mats are produced, fatigue reduction is the primary benefit that they offer. The immediate effect of sitting for long periods of time is stiffness of the muscles in the back, shoulders and neck. Meanwhile, the most obvious effect of standing for longer hours is fatigue. This is also one of the main challenges experienced by people who are trying to adjust to a sit-stand work lifestyle – they find themselves easily tired when standing.
An anti-fatigue mat can help address this. With the reduction in strain and pressure on the muscles, the mat is able to help you conserve energy so that you can last the whole day and accomplish your work while shifting between sitting and standing.
They promote standing more.
Most people who make the choice to transition to a sit-stand work lifestyle find themselves still spending more time sitting than standing, and that’s because of the discomfort that prolonged standing causes. However, when there’s less fatigue, less discomfort, and less pain when standing for a longer period of time, it’s easier for individuals to choose standing over sitting and to stand more.
This is where standing mats are truly beneficial. By protecting workers and employees from all the negatives effects of prolonged standing, they make standing the easier choice, thus motivating people to live a healthier lifestyle.
Whether you spend more time standing as a need or requirement for work or as an initiative you’re taking to live a healthier lifestyle, an anti-fatigue standing mat is an investment that will surely pay off in the long run. You’ll find several mat options in the market – with varieties in design and style, features, and price range. When choosing the right mat for you, consider the purpose for which it will be used, the environment it will be used in, as well as the material, thickness, and specific features that you need. Armed with a wealth of information, you’ll be sure to find the right standing mat in no time.
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