An anti-fatigue standing mat is a shock absorbing mat usually made from rubber designed to support your feet and legs when standing at your workstation. It improves comfort and reduces fatigue allowing you to get the maximum benefit from your standing set up. The mats are varying degrees of thickness but most are between 1.5 - 3cm.
They are intended for people who stand for portions of the day on non-supportive surfaces.
When lowering your desk, push the mat out of the way underneath your desk. Do not put your chair on the mat as it is not designed to withstand chair usage.
When raising your desk, pull the mat out with the midline in line with the midline of your monitor. Pull it out far enough so that your feet are in the centre of the mat when standing.
When standing on the mat, keep your feet shoulder width apart. Ensure your weight is evenly distributed. When standing, shift positions regularly to maintain optimum blood flow and muscle activity. Try shifting your weight from side to side, rocking slightly between your heels and toes, bouncing a little, walking on the spot. Movement is your friend!
Standing in the same place for a prolonged period of time can become uncomfortable. This feeling can be exaggerated by work related stress leading to fatigue of the mind and body. These cushioned mats combat reduce discomfort of the feet and joints by providing a softer surface to plant your posture, which enables you to comfortably stand for longer periods.
We recently trialled one at our physiotherapy clinic and a colleague of mine was quoted stating, “This is like standing on a cloud”. Joanna has been known for her dramatic statements in the past, but this time I agreed!
Compared to a normal floor, anti-fatigue mats offer a softer cushioning surface. As the surface is soft and malleable, the feet need to constantly adapt to it, causing the muscles to contract and relax. This encourages the feet, and therefore legs and body to move. This movement activates the venous pump, which increases the blood flow throughout the body and helps to prevent accumulation of blood in the ankles and feet.
It is common for people to slouch when standing. Even more common when there is a computer in front of them that they can rest their arms on. However, a good quality anti-fatigue mat can help maintain a healthy posture by ensuring the body’s weight is evenly spread throughout the feet. The softer surface also promotes regular movement of the small muscles of the feet improving the arch support and therefore ankle, knee and hip position.
Ideally, you should wear proper footwear that provides the right arch support to get optimum benefits. However, because the standing mat is soft, it does provide some support.
Although standing is a much healthier position than sitting, avoid standing for excessive periods of time. Especially if you're new to the standing desk revolution. A regular change of position cannot be understated. Buckley et al. 2015 recommend workers to initially aim for two hours standing per day, eventually progressing to a total of four hours per day. Anti-fatigue standing mats assist this change between sitting and standing. We recommend the 50:10 rule. For every hour, stand or sit for 50 minutes followed by 10 minutes of movement.
- Whether you are sitting or standing, ensure your workspace is ergonomically designed to reduce your risk of injury and promote a happy day's work!
I. Buckley JP, Hedge A, Yates T, et al. The sedentary office: an expert statement on the growing case for change towards better health and productivity. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2015;49:1357-1362.