What do beach days & anti-fatigue mats have in common?
As we finally shed winter and celebrate warmer days ahead, we can all relate to a day at the beach lugging all our gear to our ideal spot on a sandy shore. And, we all know that moving around in sand, even when its warm and playful, can be quite fatiguing because of the overly-soft, unstable of sand.
There are some interesting parallels to the effect of walking and standing in sand that apply to our ongoing blog about the essential questions to ask before purchasing an anti-fatigue mat. So far, we have discussed compressibility (elastic modulus), and the height of the material relative to is compressibility (densification strain) having a balance between stability and instability, and how responsive the surface is to worker movements. Today’s question is:
Does the anti-fatigue mat surface balance shock attenuation (absorb energy) and resilience (return energy)?
The ability of a flooring or anti-fatigue mat surface to attenuate or absorb shock without bottoming out ensures that impacts from heel-strikes, shifting of weight, sudden movements (and even falls) are cushioned adequately without causing injury. When balanced with the right amount of elasticity (resilience), a surface can ensure a result of less discomfort.
However, too much absorption may create the same sensation as standing in sand, which may absorb shock but is very uncomfortable as a working surface.
Research indicates that muscular fatigue from standing is able to measured after about 20-30 minutes of standing. It is common for us to hear that workers who stand on overly-soft anti-fatigue mats tend to move them out of the way after about a half-hour of standing, because they start to get uncomfortable, and describe their experience as “like standing in sand”. We find it interesting to witness claims of mat manufacturers who proclaim that theirs is the “thickest”, “plushest”, “most buoyant”, etc. mat, as thought thickness and softness is all that matters. These anti-fatigue mats are no more effective at relieving fatigue than walking in sand, meaning: they’re not!
An solid object dropped on a hard surface like a concrete floor will “bounce”, as much of the energy is re-directed back into the object. If that object is your body, you’ll receive those impact forces into your joints, ligaments and musculature, which over time and repetition can be painful and debilitating. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an object dropped on sand will “thud”, as the energy is absorbed. So we understand that standing workers want the opposite of hard and resilient surfaces, but overly soft and squishy, can be just as debilitating.
The unique SmartCells Technology provides a unique, optimized balance between force attenuation (absorption) and resilience (rebound). When weight/force (energy) is applied to the SmartCells structures, they act like springs which cushion impact forces, without bottoming out. That energy is “held” as the pressure remains, then is returned as the stored energy lessoned or removed (shifting weight, walking, etc.), as the SmartCells structures actively rebound (push back like a spring), effectively providing absorption and resilience at the same time. When combined with optimized compressibility, correct bottoming-out height, balancing stability and instability and having a surface that is responsive to worker movements (as discussed in earlier blogs), can effectively reduce fatigue associated with standing for long periods of time.
SmartCells Cushioning technology: It’s not how the mat feels, it’s how YOU feel.