Which anti-fatigue mats are best?
With all the talk these days about how bad sitting is for your health, many people are choosing to opt for standing desks. While this can be a smart idea, it is important to consider leg and foot health.
Standing in place for long periods of time is both tiring and uncomfortable. Anti-fatigue mats help with that. They provide a cushioned, shock-absorbing surface to stand on that can ease the pressure on your legs and spine.
Anti-fatigue mats come in a wide variety of colors and shapes to fit every need. A perfect example of this is the Kangaroo Anti Fatigue Cushioned Floor Mat, which comes in dark and vibrant hues ranging from 17 to 70 inches long.
What to know before you buy an anti-fatigue mat
How anti-fatigue mats work
When standing in a static position on a hard surface for long periods of time, the pressure in the veins in your legs increases. This makes it more difficult for the blood to flow into and out of your lower extremities, resulting in your heart having to work harder to keep the blood circulating properly. Anti-fatigue mats combat this by forcing your muscles to slightly expand and contract in micromovements as your body adjusts to the flexibility of the mat. This improves your circulation to the lower extremities, bringing more oxygen-rich blood to the muscles and reducing fatigue.
Types of anti-fatigue mats
Anti-fatigue mats can be classified into one of three categories: flat mats, non-flat active mats, and fully flat active mats.
Flat anti-fatigue mats are the most common and tend to be the best entry-level option. This is because they don’t take much getting used to and are often the most affordable. Most are rectangular in shape, range from half an inch to 1 inch thick, and provide a moderate level of cushioning.
Non-flat active anti-fatigue mats also provide cushioning but have a textured surface designed to promote greater micromovements of the muscles and better circulation. These are also most often rectangular in shape.
Full active anti-fatigue mats have large balls, ridges, accu-pressure peaks, and other textures or shapes spread across their surface that are designed to massage your feet and stretch your calves. These tend to have squarish shapes that make them ideal for those working at standing desks, but they are often the most expensive options.
Anti-fatigue mats are exposed to a lot of wear and tear, so they need to be durable if you want them to last for a long time. This is especially true when using them in commercial settings. Most are made from either foam, a rubber-covered foam or hard rubber. There are also some rubber mats with a gel core. Foam is the least durable but most affordable. Rubber-covered foam is slightly tougher because the rubber coating protects the foam from deteriorating. Finally, full rubber and gel-core mats are the most durable and the least likely to compress over time.
For more information on this, check the best anti-fatigue mat buying guide at BestReviews.
What to look for in a quality anti-fatigue mat
Anti-fatigue mats come in a range of sizes, with the shortest being about 1.5 feet and the longest 20 feet or more. It is important to match the mat to your needs and available space. For example, if you use a standing desk and stay in one place all day long, you most likely only need a small, square or rectangular mat. However, if you are looking for something for your kitchen to make cooking all day less tiresome on your feet, you’ll be best served by a long, rectangular mat that allows you to move from one end of your counter to the other.
The thickness of the anti-fatigue mats plays a large role in how effective it is. The majority range from half an inch to 1-inch thick in the main standing area. Fully active mats are notably thicker than those on their raised ridges and balls.
For safety purposes, any mat you purchase must have a non-slip bottom to keep it securely in place.
A beveled edge is helpful for two reasons: It reduces the chances of tripping over the edge when stepping onto the mat, and it ensures the edges sit flush with the floor, so they don’t curl up over time.
For commercial settings, many people opt for a plain black anti-fatigue mat. However, they come in a wide range of solid colors ranging from neutral tones like grey and earth to vibrant options like red and aqua. You can also find them in faux wood and eye-catching patterns.
How much can you expect to spend on an anti-fatigue mat
Depending on the size and materials, anti-fatigue mats can cost as little as $15 or as much as $300. There are even some extra-large options for commercial spaces that can cost more than $1,000.
Anti-fatigue mat FAQ
How do you clean an anti-fatigue mat?
A. To clean an anti-fatigue mat, start by sweeping or vacuuming the debris off it. Then fill a bucket with a bit of warm water and dish soap. Take the mat and bucket outside and lightly scrub the mat with the solution using a soft-bristle brush or a cleaning rag. Finally, rinse the mat off with clean water and hang it to dry before placing it back in your home.
Should I wear shoes on an anti-fatigue mat?
A. The choice of whether or not to wear shoes on your anti-fatigue mat comes down to the situation more so than the mat itself. For example, if it is in a commercial setting, you’ll most likely need to wear shoes, but if using an anti-fatigue mat at home, you may not want to. If you’re wearing shoes, it is important to avoid high heels and other footwear with sharp or pointed bottoms because they can damage the mat.
What are the best anti-fatigue mats to buy?
Top anti-fatigue mat
What you need to know: A durable option that comes in a range of sizes and colors, the Kangaroo anti-fatigue is ideal for home and commercial applications alike.
What you’ll love: It has a ¾-inch thick rubber construction that provides a lot of cushioning and won’t compress from constant use.
What you should consider: It has a tendency to slide around and periodically needs to be moved back into place.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top anti-fatigue mat for the money
What you need to know: A top choice for those who work at a standing desk, the Genius Mat has a variety of ridges and acupressure points to help you stretch out your calves.
What you’ll love: There is a rolling massager ball in the center of the mat that can be used to loosen plantar fascia and make standing for long periods of time more comfortable.
What you should consider: Its high sides can be a tripping hazard.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The Butterfly mat is both attractive and comfortable, making it the perfect addition to a home kitchen.
What you’ll love: It comes in four eye-catching patterns, all of which come in dark and warm tones that blend in well with most decor.
What you should consider: The textured surface can make it difficult to clean.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.