Standing desks, also known as sit-stand desks, allow users to switch between sitting and standing positions while at work. As well as improving our physical health through reducing sedentary behaviour, improving posture and enhancing circulation, standing desks have been linked to an increase in mood, focus and output at work.
However, there is growing conversation about whether you need a standing desk mat to reap these benefits. After all, standing for long periods of time without adequate support can lead to adverse health outcomes, such as lower back and leg pain, cardiovascular problems, fatigue and discomfort. What it comes down to then is figuring out the healthiest way to stand at your desk, and whether you need a standing mat to do it. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.
What is a Standing Mat?
A standing mat, also known as an anti-fatigue mat, is a type of mat made from a shock-absorbent material that helps to cushion, support and relieve pressure on the feet, legs, and lower back when standing up. It is designed to reduce discomfort, fatigue and pain that might otherwise occur when standing for extended periods.
And the science supports this. A study in 2015 found that anti-fatigue mats significantly decreased subjective pain level in the lower back area among 15 participants, out of a total 16. More recent research in 2022 on 32 healthy college students found that a standing mat tends to alleviate the fatigue induced by prolonged standing in lower limbs, and optimises the distribution of plantar pressure — the field between your foot and the support surface. Further research on sixteen individuals from the University of Waterloo found that individuals who were likely to develop lower back pain experienced significant relief when standing on an anti-fatigue mat compared to the rigid floor.
How Do Standing Mats Work?
The shock-absorbent material that standing mats are made from, such as rubber, foam or gel, absorb impact and help to better distribute your body weight to reduce pressure and strain on your feet, legs, back and joints. Standing mats also encourage micro-movements which can prevent stiffness and muscle fatigue, such as shifting your weight from one foot to another, toe and heel raises, and shoulder rolls.
Do I Need a Mat for My Standing Desk?
Although a mat isn't essential for your standing desk, standing for long periods of time on a hard floor can cause discomfort, inflammation and muscular fatigue, and a standing mat can help to prevent this. In addition to this, a standing mat can help you to maintain correct posture and proper weight distribution, to reduce strain and encourage better overall spinal alignment.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to strike a balance and alternate between standing and sitting positions. Early research suggests you should spend 1 hour standing for every 1–2 hours sitting down, so aim to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 to 60 minutes.
Benefits of a Standing Mat
The five main benefits of using a standing mat include:
Reduced Fatigue: Standing up puts pressure on our muscles and joints, but a standing mat can help reduce the impact, and make it more comfortable to stand for longer periods of time.
Reduced Pain & Discomfort: A standing mat can help to prevent musculoskeletal issues that can be caused by standing for long periods of time, such as conditions like plantar fasciitis or chronic lower back pain.
Improved Blood Circulation: Standing mats encourage subtle movements in the legs and feet which can improve blood circulation. This reduces the risk of physical conditions, such as varicose veins, but can also improve your cognitive performance.
Better Posture: A standing mat can help encourage you to stand with the correct posture, which reduces strain on the back and shoulders, and promotes a healthier alignment of the spine.
Versatile: Standing mats aren’t just for work. Their lightweight and portable nature means you can use them anywhere you might be standing for long periods of time, such as in the kitchen, at a workshop, or at your gaming setup.
Looking for a standing desk or mat? Check out our collection of standing desks or our floor mat, available for next working day delivery if ordered by 3pm. All of our desks come with a 7 year warranty, 30 day risk free return, as well as access to a UK-based customer service team to answer any questions that you might have.