The 10 Best Anti-Fatigue Mats
9. Royal Comfort
8. Imprint CumulusPro
6. Sky Mat
5. HollyHome Foot Massage
4. Reidea Comfort
3. Smart Step Select
2. Butterfly Kitchen Comfort
1. WellnessMats Bella Motif
Keep Your Feet Moving
Caring for your feet will, by extension, care for your whole system, as the comfort with which you stand drastically affects the alignment of your spine, which can either support or hinder the flow of vital information along the pathways of your entire nervous system.
A good pair of shoes can only do so much, and if we're talking about you standing at your kitchen sink, for example, doing a long day's worth of family dishes, you might even be barefoot. So, we turn to an anti-fatigue mat for comfort and care.
If you've ever stood still for long periods of time and felt your feet and legs getting tired, you might also have noticed that it actually feels good to move around afterward. You'd think that your lower body had gotten so tired that it would hate to have to move, but the opposite is actually true.
That's because circulation and muscle movement will significantly reduce fatigue. With that in mind, the manufacturers of these anti-fatigue mats actually make them so that you'll find it ever-so-slightly difficult to balance yourself on them. This results in a slew of micro-movements in your feet and legs, as your body unconsciously attempts to maintain its balance. These movements keep your muscles warm and loose, and they increase circulation throughout the lower body, reducing fatigue.
You'll find anti-fatigue mats made of anything from wood and vinyl to PVC and rubber, but they all have that little quirk of instability in common. Some will have additional features like a textured grip or a layer of protection against electrical discharge. That last feature is most common in mats used in industrial settings, but it's a nice thing to know you've got.
Where Do You Stand?
Unless you've finally bitten the bullet and bought that pub you were always talking about buying, you're probably looking into these mats as a means of reducing fatigue in the kitchen. It's the place in our homes in which we spend the majority of our standing time. Then again, you may be an outlier.
I use a standing desk, for example, to keep my back from turning into jelly when I'm writing for hours on end. From my days spent standing around for 12 hours at a time at an old sales job, I learned the value of a good anti-fatigue mat, and I employ one in my office.
To give you a little perspective on how to choose your own mat, I'll let you in on my process from a few years ago. The first thing I had to consider, and that you, too, need to consider is space. No, don't go thinking about black holes and dark matter; I mean the space in which you plan to install your mat.
Most of the mats on our list come in at least two sizes, but they aren't all uniform in their options. I made the mistake, at first, of trying to be as economical with the space as possible, and the first mat I bought was too small. If you're positioning yourself in front of the sink, for example, you don't want a mat that's only the width of the sink space. Having a little extra room is vital so that you aren't stepping on and off the mat every time you adjust your body.
Then, there's the look of the thing. Not a lot of people invade my work space, and I'm thankful for that, but I have a mat in my kitchen as well, and anyone can see it. That means two things. First, you want a mat that won't clash with the decor of the room. Second, you want a mat that won't require daily cleaning to keep the space looking fresh.
Brighter colors will fade faster and show more food particles more quickly, necessitating more consistent cleaning. Darker colors look a little less welcoming, though, so try to find the right balance for your style.
Weaving A Mat's Tale
Matting of one kind or another dates back millennia. If you don't count a spread of threshing by the doorway or the mouth of a cave as a mat, then you have to start its history with the history of weaving.
Weaving techniques developed in Turkey and Egypt between 7,000 and 5,000 BCE, as evidenced by both linen cloth samples discovered by archeologists and by hieroglyphics and other artworks of the region and the time period. Between then and roughly 3,500 BCE, Chinese cultures developed a similar technique applied to the silk thread produced by certain native worms.
Matting in the far East took on a much more important role in home decor than it did in the west, as houses in China and Japan were covered wall to wall in mats, much the way we use carpet today.
Smaller, more single-purpose mats came later, and beleaguered factory workers throughout the industrial revolution stood on anything from an old shirt to pieces of wood to ease the ache in their feet. It was in those factories heading on through the 20th century that the anti-fatigue mat was born.