do anti-fatique kitchen mats work?

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A few weeks ago we were visiting our friend Henry in the country and noticed he had extra large kitchen mat. It wasn’t exactly stylin’, so I wondered what it was doing there. When I offered to lend a hand at the stovetop, however, there was a pleasant bounce beneath my feet. “This feels good!” I thought. Flipping through Domino the other day, I spotted an ad for Gel Pro Chef Mats, which looks like Henry’s. According to the site, it is an “anti-fatique” mat that helps to stop lower back pain — like a big gel pad for your floor rather than your shoes. Now, I don’t cook that much that to really deserve this, but occassionally, when I’m doing something that might take an hour or so, I can imagine this would be a welcome thing. The pads pricey — $99 for a small sink-size one and $200 for one that’s double in size. And, it’s not nearly as cute as the fake grass mat we have now. I’m wondering, do these work? If you’ve had any experiences with these babies, let me know! Are they worth it? — Angela M.

When I worked retail we would use these type of mats at the registers. The mats would be replaced once a year. (eight hours of use a day would wear them down after about a year.) When they were replaced we could imediately feel the difference they made.

I used these when I worked reception at an animal hospital — they don’t stop you from becoming fatigued eventually, but they definitely help fend it off for longer than a regular mat.

These mats definitely make sense for those with back or foot pain. Most industrial kitchens have the big black ones which wouldn’t quite work in most homes. You can always go with clogs too.

alison

This kind of mat definitely makes a difference. Our house is built on a slab, so the kitchen floor is basically concrete, with a thin layer of vinyl flooring over it. I looked at those mats on-line, and boy are they spendy! We got some thick foam snap-together floor mats from Costco, which are admittedly not pretty, being black foam like the industrial ones, but cost a LOT less than the “Gel-Pro” ones. I just got a rag rug from Ikea for $2 and put it over the black foam. It doesn’t slip, and matches the kitchen colors, and every time i work in the kitchen my feet thank me….

meh, why invest in an ugly mat? get something cute you like (and won’t trip over), and cook in a pair of crocs. all the nurses at the hospital where i work wear them; i would imagine that what works for them will work for a chef as well!

Veronica

If you aren’t interested in shelling out just to find out you don’t like them, you might check with Cintas, Alsco, Unifirst or your local mat/uniform delivery service. They typically rent these for a nominal fee.

Sue

If you have ever worked in a food prep/coffeeshop/baking area, these are familiar to you. These are really for industrial/professional use, when you are standing and cooking for 8-10 hours straigt usually over a hard cement floor. No one who cooks at home really needs these. But if you want to buy them, spend away. Not really nesc to my mind, more of a gimmicky thing.

I spend alot of time in the kitchen, as I do specialty pastries and confections…. and what I have found works easier, and is a bit more practical… is just changing my shoes.

I have a pair of mary jane crocs that I simply cant live without when I am cooking, baking, even just doing more than 1 load of dishes!

They cut down on my back pain to almost non existent and I no longer have leg or foot fatigue!
And it means I also don’t have a huge bulky mat laying around that doesn’t quite match the swank decor I have worked so hard to achieve!

We just remodeled our kitchen and my husband surprised me with one of these mats. He is a chiropractor and is of course concerned about my back and feet. I love to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I wasn’t impressed with the looks of these online, but when I got mine it was much more pleasing to the eye. My feet feel so good after standing/walking on it, it’s unbelievable! My feet don’t have much of an arch in them so I usually wear a cushiony slipper or flip flops around the house so they don’t ache at the end of the day. We got the bigger mat, which was double the price, but our kitchen is really big. I plan on buying two more for the kitchen, and one for each bathroom in our home. I would recommend them to anyone with any aches, and possibly to AVOID any future aches. The only problem was the shipping. It took over a month to receive this, but it was packaged nicely and arrived intact.

For folks who don’t mind that kinda “commercial” look or think it actually kinda cool, I found several mats on http://www.mattingexperts.com for my kitchen. I bought the Grade A and put it in front of my stove. It is AWESOME! Actually looks kinda neat along with all the stainless steel appliances. There were other choices but I liked this one for easy clean up.