Anti-Fatigue mats are used by many businesses where there is a requirement for employees to stand for a long time.
Increasingly, individuals use them too - for instance university lecturers who stand for lengthy periods, or even people who are on their feet a lot at home, perhaps preparing food in the kitchen.
Scientific studies have proven their value, Occupational Health authorities around the globe champion their use.
However, how does something seemingly so simple work, how does a mat reduce fatigue and also reduce the risk of injury and time spent off work?
The Problem To Tackle
To understand how an anti-fatigue mat works it is first necessary to give thought to the issue they address.
Standing in one fixed position for lengthy periods is not good for the body.
Often, standing takes place on a hard floor - the concrete floor of a factory, the hard wooden floor a teacher or lecturer might stand on, the solid flooring of a production line.
When stood on a hard floor such as this, the lower body settles into a fixed position with little, if any, movement of the legs and feet.
What then occurs is blood pools, leg muscles become static and the heart has to work harder to overcome this constricted flow.
You might imagine that being in rest like this is good for the body, actually the opposite is true. Less blood reaches the heart, fatigue sets in, muscles ache and health is impacted.
The most common areas for fatigue and pain are the legs and lower back - the latter a particular problem as back pain is regularly the second most common reason people contact their GP - many of these calls will be the result of standing for too long on floor with no give.
How An Anti-Fatigue Mat Works
Anti-fatigue mats are specifically designed to remedy this problem of being static on a hard floor.
It might be that standing for a lengthy period is unavoidable, how then can the impact of this be reduced?
Anti-fatigue mats have a degree of give that leads to the person standing on them subtly changing position and making small movements to adjust to this reduced firmness.
The adjustments are subtle, the mat cannot be annoying to stand on and feel wobbly, instead it leads to barely perceptible movements and shifts of balance.
These are enough to keep the blood flowing, ensure the right amount of oxygen reaches the heart and reduce both fatigue and also longer-term health problems.
Anti-fatigue mat work by stopping the person from being completely stationary, yet in a way that does not impact their concentration. Clearly, an anti-fatigue mat would not be much use if it led to the factory worker or university lecturer losing all concentration mid flow.
The Proof That Anti Fatigue Mats Work
While the logic might sound reasonable, what proof is there that anti fatigue mats work?
Fortunately, there have been scientific studies.
A key one was carried out by the University of Michigan, this specifically looked at the benefits of anti-fatigue mats and found that they can reduce pain and discomfort by up to 50%.
In France, Prof. Dr. Redha Taiar found the same in research carried out at the University of Reims and closer to home, at the UK’s own Loughborough University, also reported that they had found anti fatigue mats to have significant benefits.
With all research papers proving the benefits of anti-fatigue mats, there are unlikely to be new studies any time soon - the science is established.
Occupational Health Authorities also speak of the benefits of anti-fatigue mats, the United States authority for instance stating their benefit for those who work on their feet.
The Growing Use for Anti Fatigue Mats
Anti-fatigue mats have been relatively common in some factories and similar for many years, but their use is now increasing.
As mentioned, they are popular among university lecturers and teachers who have to stand for lengthy periods.
In a hotel, they are suitable for reception staff if they are stood behind the desk for hours, they can also be of value in a supermarket or shop, for instance for those in customer support.
One major growth area is also for those who have desks designed to be used whilst stood up. There are many benefits to not being sat down all day, but if sitting is merely replaced with static standing you might just be replacing one problem with another.
A standing desk with an anti-fatigue mat is, however, an excellent long term health improvement.
The mats are of use for anyone who finds they regularly stand on a hard floor for a period of two hours or more.
The Benefits of Anti Fatigue Mats
The obvious benefit of an anti-fatigue mat is to reduce pain and fatigue, be that for yourself or employees.
There are, though, other benefits.
Time off work can be reduced, back pain accounts for around 10 million days off ill each and every year in the UK - many of these will be the result of standing on hard floors at work.
The anti-fatigue mats not only help the employee to feel healthier, they also reduce the business impact of time off work.
Given the mats are affordable, if a mat saves even one day’s sick leave it will have more than paid for itself.
Having anti-fatigue mats also demonstrates a duty of care is being employed, this potentially helping to fight any claims brought that suggest injury at work.
If a company has taken no steps to make standing more comfortable, a claim for loss caused by work-onset back pain would be more likely to be successful.
There is also a somewhat intangible benefit, the mats contributing to a sense that the employer cares for employees and takes steps to improve their working conditions.
Employees forced to stand for lengthy periods without an anti-fatigue mat to ease their comfort might not be inclined to remain in that employment for the long term.
Anti-fatigue mats are a simple step to make standing more comfortable and less taxing on the body.
About Mat Creations
At Mat Creations, we have a huge range of health and safety mats and mats of all types and can work with your brand to create a high quality finished product.
We would be happy to provide further advice and give an obligation free quote should that be of use.