If you've ever worked on your feet all day, you already know the human body is not designed to stand on hard, unyielding surfaces for sustained periods of time. Different parts of your body start aching all over, even though they may not be directly connected to your feet and legs.
It will also come as no surprise that scientific studies confirm this kind of standing is harmful. In one test when groups of participants stood in relatively confined spaces on a concrete floor for 90 minutes each day, it didn't take long for serious discomfort to show up in their legs, feet, and backs. Over a five-day period of standing in this fashion, neck and shoulder stiffness also increased significantly for the participants.
When doctors examined those involved, using body temperature sensors and infra-red thermal imaging, they found that blood circulation was impeded. Over time, these circulatory issues can lead to a host of other ills such as foot and lower limb disorders. The study also documented that standing for the same amount of time on cushioned "anti-fatigue" mats led to far fewer physical issues.
Because these aches and pains can significantly reduce quality of life for those who work on their feet, anti-fatigue mats are more than just a luxury - they're a necessity. Anti-fatigue mats are made from thick foam or rubber that absorbs harsh shock caused by movement on unyielding floors.
Bone-jarring impacts that would be transferred directly to ankles, knees, spinal column vertebrae, and lower back areas such as pelvic joints and discs are absorbed and eliminated instead. Basically, it's like having the same kind of spring cushioning found in high-end sneakers in a rectangular floor pad you stand on.
Foam Pads With Textured Surfaces
Foam pads with textured surfaces represent best values when it comes to anti-fatigue mats. We've got the Larin Anti-Fatigue Work Mat (24 square feet), Performance Tool Anti-Fatigue Floor Mat Roll (24" x 70"), and Champ Pans Floor Mats available in 15.75" x 27.25" or 32" x 48" sizes. Both Champ Pans mats are extremely thick, with 1.5" of cushioning. Note that the Larin mats offer the advantage of interlocking edges, which allow multiple mats to join securely together.
Smaller Size Foam Knee Pads
If you kneel down on a hard floor regularly, we've also got foam knee pads that provide the same benefits in a smaller size. Choose the Mityvac Foam Mat with 12" x 20" dimensions, or the Kastar Foam Knee Mat with larger 15.5" x 38.5" dimensions.
If you work on a floor that's often wet with slush or other liquids, a rubber mat is your best bet. Deeper grooves and channels will remove and disperse slippery stuff off your shoes and out of harm's way as you move around on the mat. Additionally, those grooves provide a little bit more "give" when you're standing on them - providing a softer, more flexible surface that's also durable enough to withstand regular vehicle traffic over it.
When it comes to rubber mats, we've got the CTA Anti-Fatigue Mat (36" x 60" dimensions) with raised traction squares, and the OEM Tools Anti-Fatigue Work Mat (34" x 52") with ridged grooves for drainage and maximum foot grip.
Whichever style you choose, working on an anti-fatigue mat is also much safer because the risk of slipping and falling on wet surfaces is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. And if, for some reason, a fall does happen, any of these thick mats will cushion the impact of falling - lessening the potential for injury.
Considering the cost of doctor visits and pain medications, an anti-fatigue mat can save you money in addition to making work much more comfortable and preventing injury. There's no reason not to get one! Better yet, if you have a garage AND a basement work area, get a mat for each location. The affordable pricing and health benefits make it worthwhile.