The 6 best standing desk mats of 2021 for reducing fatigue and improving comfort
- Using a standing desk can cause back pain, but a standing desk mat can help.
- A standing desk mat should help you stand naturally and cushion your feet.
- We spoke with three experts to help choose the best standing desk mats.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of having a standing desk, but standing for long periods can cause lower back pain, sore feet, and poor circulation. Pairing the desk with a standing desk mat can help alleviate some of these issues.
“As a physical therapist, I think a standing desk and standing mat should go hand in hand,” says Jessica Schwartz, a doctor of physical therapy and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. She said a good standing desk mat will help you move naturally without having to consciously think about it. “[It’s] great to mix up the standing postures throughout your workday, decreasing strain on your hips, knees, and back while providing opportunities for increased circulation as well,” she said.
To find the best mats for a standing desk, I asked experts for suggestions, read hundreds of reviews, spoke to colleagues who use them, and tested a few out for myself. While there are many options depending on your preferences and needs, several things hold true. No matter which mat you choose, it should promote frequent movement and provide a comfortable cushion, while staying secure on the floor.
Here are the best standing desk mats:
- Best overall: Ergodriven Topo
- Best budget standing mat: Safco Anti-Fatigue Mat
- Best easy-to-move standing mat: Sit-Stand Premium Smart Mat
- Best standing mat for stretching: Vari ActiveMat
- Best standing mat for office chairs: Mushyn 2-in-1 Office Chair Mat with Anti-Fatigue Footrest
- Best standing mat with a trackball: Sky Mats Genius Mat
Updated on 03/18/2021: This update includes several new selections for the best standing desk mat, including the Safco Anti-Fatigue Mat and the Sit-Stand SmartMat. We included advice from three experts to help you pick the best mat for your needs.
The best standing mat overall
The contours of the Ergodriven Topo Comfort Mat will help promote movement throughout the day while still being comfortable.
- Size (LWH): 29 x 26.25 x 2.7 inches
- Weight: 7.54 pounds
- Design: Contoured
- Material: Polyurethane
- Warranty: 7 years
Every expert I spoke to agreed that the most important function of a standing desk mat is to encourage movement throughout the day. The Ergodriven Topo does just that. Made of high-density polyurethane, the Topo’s ridges and contours allow for a variety of subconscious movements. It also comes with suggested exercises and instructional videos for those who want to take breaks throughout the day for more deliberate stretching.
Insider reviewer Simon Hill tested the mat and said he moved around more and felt less fatigue when standing for long periods. “Some of the stretches the mat encourages feel good, particularly on the calves and lower back,” he said, and the mat feels comfortable in bare feet, socks, or shoes.
An indentation in the front of the mat allows you to move it from under your desk with the heel of your foot. “This feature makes sit-to-stand transitions more seamless and discourages awkward bending of the spine to drag out the mat every time you change positions,” said Nikki Weiner, occupational therapist and president of ergonomic service company The Rising Workplace.
Unlike flat anti-fatigue mats, the Topo’s contours allow you “to do a heel raise [and] get more range of motion, which is better for overall conditioning and strengthening,” said Schwartz.
The Ergodriven Topo comes in two sizes. The original is designed for people over 5’4″, while the Mini is smaller and will work for shorter people. Compared to some of the other mats on the list, the Topo is a bit pricier, but it checks every box on our experts’ lists.
The best budget standing mat
Easy to move and good for areas with lots of traffic, the Safco Anti-Fatigue Mat should provide enough cushion for standing for hours at a time.
- Size (LWH): 30 x 20 x 1.0 inches or 36 x 24 x 1.0 inches
- Weight: 4 pounds
- Design: Flat
- Material: Polyurethane
If you want an uncomplicated, flat mat, Weiner recommends the Safco Moveable Anti-Fatigue Mat. “Unless you have an advanced ergonomic issue, sometimes less is more,” she said. “Not a lot of bells and whistles are needed to increase comfort in standing.” It’s affordable and comfortable, and you can move it with your foot, so you’re not constantly bending down.
The Safco provides pliable padding with an inch of self-skinning polyurethane, making it easy to clean and resistant to punctures and tears (though it’s not meant for use with high-heeled shoes). A front grip and molded glides on the bottom allow you to move the mat on most surfaces with your foot, but it stays in place once you’re on it. The material should prevent the edges from curling.
The mat comes in two sizes, so most people should be able to find one that meets the needs of their workstation and body. While it provides cushion, it’s not meant for someone who wants the kind of movement that comes from contoured designs, like the Topo.
That said, the Safco Anti-Fatigue Mat is a good option for people who have concerns about tripping over contours and ridges. Schwartz recommends this kind of mat for people who work as cashiers, bartenders, and in kitchens.
The best easy-to-move standing mat
At just under a pound, the Sit-Stand Premium Smart Mat is light enough to move several times a day for many people.
- Size (LWH): Approximately 32 x 21 x 0.75 inches
- Weight: 14 ounces
- Design: Flat
- Material: Polypropylene
- Warranty: 5 years
For a simple-to-move option, Karen Loesing, owner of ergonomic evaluation company The Ergonomic Expert, recommends the Sit-Stand Premium Smart Mat. Its design lets you easily transition from sitting to standing while its rubber back keeps the mat secure once it’s in place. It also comes in two designs one for carpet and another for hard surfaces.
Its soft, breathable cushion is meant to appeal to people who like working in socks or with bare feet. As with other flat mats, it doesn’t offer the kind of options for movement as those with uneven terrain.
“Not everyone is meant to be on uneven surfaces, [such as people with] preexisting conditions, ongoing discomfort, or balance issues,” said Schwartz. If any of these apply to you, the Sit-Stand Smart Mat could be a great choice.
The best standing mat for stretching
If you want both a flat standing surface and contours to encourage movement, the Vari ActiveMat might be the right choice for you.
- Size (LWH): 35.5 x 23.75 x.325 inches.
- Weight: 8.82 pounds
- Design: Flat with sloped edges
- Material: Polyurethane foam
- Warranty: 1 year
Contours help encourage movement, but “ridges and edges may be a trip or balance hazard for some users,” said Weiner. The Vari ActiveMat has a flat front and center and sloped edges on three sides for movement and stretching when you need it.
The mat has a foam core but firm side ridges. At over three inches tall, you can use them to engage the muscles in your ankles, calves, and feet. Its beveled, no-curl edges and non-slip bottom keep the mat securely in place.
The ActiveMat also falls in line with Schwartz’s recommendation for a mat with good thickness, though at nearly 11 pounds, it’s quite a bit heavier than the others on our list. To avoid injury, she wouldn’t recommend this mat unless you feel comfortable moving it as often as every 30 to 60 minutes.
The sloped edges take up quite a bit of space, making the inner flat section just over 17 inches wide. Many users have reported being able to comfortably stand with their feet shoulder-width apart. The mat works on both hard floors and carpet, though some have said it doesn’t provide enough cushion on concrete. Depending on the floor and the types of shoes you wear, you may be able to scoot the mat out from your desk with your feet, but you might have to bend over and slide it out.
The best standing mat for office chairs
Office chairs fit atop the Mushyn 2-in-1 Office Chair Mat with Anti-Fatigue Footrest, though you’ll need to pull it out from under your desk to stand on the cushioned area.
- Size (LWH): 50 x 36 x 0.06 inches
- Weight: 7.28 pounds
- Design: Flat with raised footrest
- Material: PVC leather and nitrile rubber foam
- Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty
For those who want the benefits of an anti-fatigue mat while also protecting their floors from the wear and tear of an office chair, the Mushyn 2-in-1 Mat is a great option. When sitting, your chair rolls over the thin PVC and NBR foam. There’s a cushioned footrest that might help to improve posture. Raise your desk, pull out the mat, and the footrest transitions into a standing mat.
While the Mushyn is specifically designed for hard surfaces, owners report being able to use it on low-pile carpet as well. Some have complained of the mat slipping a bit on hardwood floors, but a few people said in their reviews that the company has reimbursed them for products to help keep the mat from slipping.
The Mushyn’s raised footrest takes up the top 18 inches of the mat, so depending on how you position it, you may not be able to fully push your chair under your desk.
The biggest drawback to the mat is that there’s no way to move it using only your feet. If you like to transition from sitting to standing frequently throughout the day, Weiner instead recommends a plastic chair mat that extends under your desk and a separate, easily moveable mat for standing.
The best standing mat with a trackball
The Sky Mats Genius Mat offers lots of ways to stay active while sitting and standing.
- Size (LWH): 26 x 24.25 x 3.25 inches
- Weight: 7.54 pounds
- Design: Contoured
- Material: Polyurethane foam mixture with a faux-leather exterior
- Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
As someone who specifically starts to feel the effects of poor circulation after sitting or standing in one position for too long, the Sky Mats Genius Mat is my personal favorite. Made from a thick foam, it’s comfortable when I stand in the center in neutral positions. Meanwhile, the contours, support ramps, and massage points prompt me to move more during the day than standing without a mat.
I’m also someone who prefers to work in socks, so I love the rollerball embedded in the middle. Even when I’m sitting, I can use the ball on the bottom of my foot. I find this to be helpful for my concentration, as it seems to focus my nervous energy at times when I could easily become distracted by something else. Weiner said a tennis ball could work just as well for this, too.
The biggest downside for me is that, despite being described as non-slip, the mat wasn’t initially very secure on my hardwood floor. I attached a few Command strips to add a bit of traction to the bottom, which seemed to help. Placing it over something like a small kitchen mat would also work well.
With a fairly small footprint, the Genius Mat fits into most workspaces. However, some people with larger frames might find it a bit too narrow for their stance. Should it not work for you, it comes with a 30-day return policy, though you might have to pay for shipping fees.
How to use a standing desk mat
The mat you choose will ultimately come down to your needs and personal preferences, but no matter your choice, you need to use it properly.
“Make sure the mat is centered in front of the workstation and placed close enough so you can stand in relation to the desk with ergonomics in mind,” said The Rising Workplace’s Weiner. “Keep arms close to the body, shoulders relaxed, and ears over your shoulders and hips. If a mat is placed too far away from the desk, it could cause you to lean forward or over-reach for the mouse and keyboard.”
Before purchasing the mat, something to keep in mind is size. “If you’re petite, you won’t need a large mat, but for taller and wider users, a larger mat allows you to stretch and have a wider stance,” said Karen Loesing, owner of The Ergonomic Expert. “You also have to consider the space around you. Ideally, your mat shouldn’t be larger than the space where your chair will be when you’re working in sitting positions.”
While you’ll want a mat that’s easy enough to move in and out of place as you transition from sitting to standing, you also don’t want a mat that moves when you’re standing on it. “You want the mat to be secure on the floor surface,” said Weiner. “If you find that the mat scoots around, consider attaching some non-skid cabinet liner to the underside.”
Even with a mat, you should aim to stand about 30% of your day, if possible, said Karen Loesing. Our other experts echoed this sentiment.
“Just like sitting has been referred to as the new smoking, standing for too long of a period can also be harmful,” Schwartz, spokesperson for the APTA, said. She recommends changing positions every 30 minutes, whether it’s from sitting to standing, walking to get water, or simply shifting your stance to reduce inflammation.
“My experience as an occupational therapist has taught me that we should stand as tolerated, rather than attempting to pin [ourselves] into a schedule or goal,” adds Weiner. “Change positions with early signs of discomfort, and remember that although standing can promote more movement, it is not a substitution for actual movement.”
Working with a physical therapist can help you determine which mat is the right for your needs and the appropriate movements and exercises to do throughout the day.
Check out other home office guides
The best standing desks for your home or office
The best desks for your home office
The best office chairs
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