According to the National Security Council (NSC), over 69% of workers are fatigued at work. Fatigue is detrimental to the body and the mind—subjecting each to its own dimension of pain. It’s morally dubious, as well as financially inadvisable, to inflict this sort of harm to your workers. Of the many consequences of a fatigued worker, lowered productivity is just one. You get the idea: Fatigue should be prevented. Luckily, we’re living in times where anti-fatigue mats are widespread and readily available. An ergonomic mat is specifically designed to act as a buffer between your feet and any hard surface below. Whether the specialized cushion matting is being used on top of cold, hard concrete or on top of fine tile or hardwood your residence—padded flooring will provide your body relief. To give you a better understand how anti-fatigue mats prevent fatigue, in this article, we’ll answer the following three questions:
• What does an anti-fatigue mat do?
• How does anti-fatigue mat work?
• Do anti-fatigue mats really help?
What Does an Anti-fatigue Mat Do?
An anti-fatigue mat alleviates the pain and strain of standing for prolonged periods of time—especially in cases where an individual must otherwise stand on a hard surface, like concrete, tile, hardwood, or linoleum. Merely walking on such surfaces can cause fatigue. They are unforgivingly hard, and they do little to conform to the shapes of our feet and the motions of our strides. As we’ve stated in our other articles, walking on concrete is like hammering your feet’s soles every step you take. For this reason, cushion matting tends to be made out of supple and elastic materials that bend with the weight and shape of a foot—all while being firm enough to support a healthy standing posture.
Anti-fatigue mats can be made of many materials. Oftentimes, the material that an anti-fatigue mat is made of relates to the kind of situation the mat is designed to handle. The particular style in which a soft tile is made also relates to its intended use. Thicker comfort mats offer more fatigue resistance than do thinner ones. To make this clearer, we’ve outlined some common materials used for padded flooring:
Carpet: Although carpet does provide a warmer and somewhat softer surface, it is not ideal for anti-fatigue applications. Foam (non-rubber): A substance known for the little pockets of gas enclosed within it. By far, this is one of the most popular anti-fatigue matting options. Gel: These mats are filled with a dense gel and are another popular option. Foam Rubber: Though similar to normal foam mats, foam-rubber floor pads are a much more durable antifatigue matting option. Softer foam options are better suited for individuals who remain in a single position rather than those who move around. Hard Rubber: Extremely durable, anti-fatigue mats made of hard rubber are well suited for harsh environments. This material will offer more support, and—while it is harder than foam-rubber antifatigue mats—the fact that it’s rubber means that it still supports the body much better than concrete does. This is a good choice for places where people have to stand but also walk around.
How Does Anti-fatigue Mat Work?
An anti-fatigue mat works by providing sufficient cushion to the standing body. This cushion reduces the rate at which the body typically becomes fatigued from prolonged standing. To have a good anti-fatigue surface, you must use a material that is elastic and supple. Simply put, it has to support your body better than a hard surface does. Companies like Rubber-Cal often use rubber to make their anti-fatigue mats. As Craig Freudenrich, PhD, explains, “[Rubber] is a specific type of polymer called an elastomer: a large molecule that can be stretched to at least twice its original length and returned to its original shape.” In other words, because rubber is an elastomer, it is naturally elastic and supple—it possesses all the qualities that define a good ergonomic mat. And because rubber is so malleable, it can be altered during the production process to be softer or harder. Its level of hardness depends on the type of worker it’s intended to support.
Do Anti-fatigue Mats Really Help?
Anti-fatigue mats certainly help, especially if you’re using them as surfaces for standing on. The extra cushion they provide greatly increases the quality of your standing experience. According to eHow, “Standing all day is common in many industries. By standing all day, our bodies endure the natural force of gravity. Gravity naturally pulls the body down, which causes muscles to be tense constantly.” Furthermore, when standing on a hard surface, the surface reflects the force that your body exerts onto it. That is, if your body exerts downward force on a concrete floor, the floor reflects onto your body an upward force that is equal to the amount of downward force exerted on the concrete. In physics, this is called normal force. But at Rubber-Cal, we call this a problem. Here are some of the injuries you risk when you stand prolongedly on a hard surface:
• Swollen feet and legs
• Plantar fasciitis
• Stretched Achilles tendon (tendinitis)
• Varicose veins
• Knee problems
• Lower back pain
• Neck and shoulder stiffness
• Poor posture
• Restricted blood flow
• Increased chance of knee or hip arthritis
• Muscle soreness and fatigue
To prevent issues like these, companies like Rubber-Cal pay special attention to the materials used in their anti-fatigue mats—ultimately choosing rubber because it’s the best material for the job. Rubber’s elasticity and malleability make it the perfect, force-distributing barrier between your feet and the floor. You’ll still feel the effects of normal force while standing on a cushioned mat, but it’s likely that you’ll only feel a fraction of what you would have felt without an ergo mat. As if preventing bodily ailments wasn’t enough, rubber anti-fatigue mats are also affordable, durable, and DIY-friendly. Thus, providing yourself, employees, customers, and loved ones with high-quality padded flooring has never seemed so reasonable. At this point, it’s common sense.