Standing Desk: Aftermat(h)

This article is part 7 of 7 in the series Standing Desk

Ah, the punnery!

I decided to revive the series on my standing desk experiences with a very brief update.

First, some have asked me whether I still work standing up, and the answer is: yes! It’s been about three months since I started, and I’ve not had any inclination to stop.

More importantly, though, I feel there’s something that needs adding to the series: all of the slight twinges and aches I’ve found myself with when working standing up first have gone over time, with the exception of one: my feet hurt.

It’s not surprising, as I’ve discussed in various places, since I’m a barefoot sort of person — and our feet, padded as they might be, still aren’t made for standing on hard surfaces all day. So I’ve sought various on-the-cheap solutions for this problem, and seem to finally have arrived at one that works for me.

I first tried to stand on cushions of sorts, but they proved to be too uneven and small for comfortable standing. Other old foam mats I’ve found around the house were either too soft or too thin, or in rare cases, both. You’ll need something that you can sink into without reaching rock bottom, as it were.

So I started shopping around for mats of all sorts, and found stress relief mat products both for kitchen and industrial use. For kitchen use, gel mats seemed to be all the rage — over in the US. Here in good old Europe, the only gel mats you seem to be able to find easily are gel wrist relief mouse pads. Not exactly big enough to stand on.

As for industrial stress relief mats, they come in various types: some of them are fire resistant, which is cute, but as I’m not about to do any heavy duty welding in my office, that’s not a feature I need to pay for. Others are non-slip, but those tend to have very uneven surfaces for bare feet — they might be fine if you wear shoes.

In the end, the cheapest and/or best I found was a competition grade Judo mat. I might’ve come up with that earlier, as I used to stand on them regularly when I was younger. They come in 2×1 and 1×1 meter sizes, and the smaller is just a bit larger than I need in an office. Either size is 4cm thick rubber foam with durable, water-proof coating.

I’ve been using mine for only a few days, and the foot pain is a thing of the past. They’re not exactly cheap — something like 50-75 GBP with shipping, depending on where you buy — but they should last a long time.

And they’re designed for barefoot use.

With a three month retrospective, I would recommend investing in some decent mat to stand on as soon as you think you might take your standing desk seriously. In the meantime, do not make the mistake I made and assume that standing barefoot on a hard floor is something you’ll get used to1.

  1. It gets a bit better initially, but it doesn’t seem to get better completely. []

  • Marc Aspinall

    Would you recommend the jig-saw mats at all? The contest level mats are a tad steep, if I can get the same thing from the jigsaw versions. I love standing at my desk, but suffer from the foot pain, will be very happy to make that a thing of the past!

    • unwesen

      The type of mat I’ve got is one of those 40mm thick mats; when I look for jigsaw mats (I know what they look like and have used them in the past), all I find are 20mm thick mats.

      Given the difference in thickness, I’m not 100% sure I would recommend them. They’ll definitely be better than nothing, but may not relieve your foot pain entirely.

      Of course it depends on what you’re willing to do with the mat. If you’d be happy to cut it in half and glue the bits together, for example, you’d probably be just fine.

      • Marc Aspinall

        I do like your idea of cutting it down, as 1M squared is rather big, but I had found these > < 40mm thick, does the rest of the information hold up, materials, density etc?

        • unwesen

          Yeah, otherwise they’re much the same as I recall. It’s only the thickness I’d be concerned about.

          • Marc Aspinall

            Brilliant, will look into those then, I think my setup will be perfect with the mat. Thanks for your input!

            • unwesen

              You’re welcome :)