The Best Standing Desk Mats of 2017
Last Updated July 12th, 2017
Many standing desk users find that anti-fatigue mats help them to stand more comfortably, and they encourage movement. You’ll see in our top choices that some of the mats aren’t flat, they have an uneven surface to help you stretch your calves or lean against. And since they are soft you’ll find yourself shifting more (remember that movement is a good thing). Some newer models even include a mobile footrest.
As the industry evolves, there are more options when it comes to making standing easier. We’ve evaluated many different types and brands to find the best standing desk mat for your needs.
Things to consider when buying a standing desk mat
- Remember that the thickness of your mat will change your height standing at your desk. This won’t affect most people as most standing desks are adjustable, but if you’re tall and you’re at the max height for your standing desk, it could make your monitor and/or keyboard too low for you.
- Pay attention to the width and lenth of the standing mat that you’re interested in, and make sure you have enough space for it.
- Don’t use high heels when standing on the mat, and be careful with shoes with hard heels that could damage the mat. And I wouldn’t risk placing a chair on the mat (except for the iMovR EcoLast). If you frequently switch from sitting to standing, find a mat that will easily slide under your desk (such as the Topo).
- If you walk away from your mat frequently, you may want to look at the flat mats so you don’t trip over one of the contoured mats.
- Be careful about cheaper mats. You get what you pay for and buying a $40 mat may end up costing you more in the long run if you end up throwing it away and buying a higher quality mat later. We tested cheaper mats and there was a noticable difference in quality, asthetics, durability, and comfort.
How we evaluated the mats
We have our staff take turns using the mats and give feedback, because we want to get feedback of different types of users (tall, short, people that stand for long periods, barefoot users, etc.). We speak directly with manufacturers, as well as read a ton of reviews, and watch any videos from users.
We looked at 4 main criteria:
- Smell (some mats give off a chemical smell that can be unpleasant and unhealthy if you’re working in a space that isn’t constantly ventilated, which is most people).
- Warranty, customer service and return policy (hopefully won’t have to return your mat is there’s an issue, but it’s good to know that if you do, it won’t be a nightmare).
One thing you will read about pretty consistently if you read a lot of reviews (we spend hours doing this), is the mobility of the mat. Some mats shift slightly every time you get on and off the mat. This is less of a concern for standing desk users, as we will sit and stand throughout the day, so having a mat that moves easily is actually a benefit. I switch positions approximately every 20 minutes, and I can just push my mat to the side (I own a Topo on a hardwood floor). If I had to bend down and pick it up every time I needed to change positions, I would switch positions less. Many of these complaints come from people that are using their mat at the kitchen sink where they will only stand. Mobility then will only be an issue for a standing desk user if they only stand.
Advice once you start using it
- Give your body time to acclimate to your standing desk mat, especially if you’re new to standing at your desk. They’re also known as anti-fatigue mats, but many users find that they move a lot more when they’re standing on it.
- Keep moving. When I started using a standing mat, I found myself shifting, stretching, doing squats, calf raises, and stretching. By the end of the day I found myself more tired, especially my calves, but it was worth it as my productivity had gone up, my mood was better, my back felt better. When you stand it’s good to keep moving-being immobile isn’t good whether you’re sitting or standing. If you find yourself getting really tired, you can switch back to sitting. You’ll read negative reviews that people still get tired while standing on their mats. When you’re using your muscles, you’re probably going to get tired. Changing positions will keep you from using the same muscles for too long.
- Stretch. There’s a great article by Dan Kois in New York Magazine where he stood for a month – all day, every day, except when he slept. His calves were really sore, and someone suggested to him part way through the experiment that he should stretch, and he said that made a big difference. That’s why I’m a fan of the contoured mats (such as our top pick, the Topo) or the Varidesk ActiveMat Rocker, which gives the deepest calf stretch. They’re designed so you can stretch your calves throughout your day.