Objective: The aim of this experiment was to investigate the effects of anti-fatigue mats on perceived discomfort and behavioral responses (weight-shifting between the feet) during prolonged standing.
Background: Prolonged standing is a common requirement in the workplace and is a well-known cause of discomfort. Anti-fatigue mats have been shown to reduce discomfort resulting from standing, but no study has identified a particular mat that performs better than others or examined the relationship between discomfort and weight-shifting.
Methods: Participants stood for 4 hours on four commercially available "anti-fatigue" mats and a hard surface (control condition). Subjective ratings of discomfort were measured, and in-shoe pressure was recorded and used to evaluate weight-shifting during standing.
Results: Compared to the control condition, after 4 hours of standing discomfort was reduced by three of the four mats, but discomfort ratings did not significantly differ among mats. However, significant differences among mats were found in the frequency of weight-shifting, and weight-shifting was positively correlated to discomfort.
Conclusion: These results suggest that subjective reports of discomfort were not sufficiently sensitive to detect differences among mats for the experimental conditions tested. Behavioral responses, specifically weight-shifting between feet, may provide a more sensitive alternative to subjective reports.