These mats are designed to provide support for long stints at the sink, stove, or counter. Are their promises too good to be true?
Published Aug. 16, 2022.
We know what it’s like to spend long days on our feet preparing (and cleaning up after) delicious meals. Antifatigue mats promise to keep both casual and avid cooks pain-free, but only a few of them actually work well. Our favorite, the Williams Sonoma WellnessMat, is supportively firm yet plush, providing a solid, comfortable surface for long days in the kitchen. It’s durable and easy to clean, and its beveled edges and effective no-slip backing minimize the risk of tripping or slipping. We also named the ComfiLife Anti Fatigue Floor Mat as our Best Buy. It performs similarly, but its softer foam provides a little less support.
Every seasoned cook knows that some of the best recipes can call for hours of standing in the kitchen. The strain from spending those extended cooking shifts on our feet can build over time, heightening our risk of chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and more. Antifatigue mats (or ergonomic mats) are designed to provide a supportive layer between our feet and the floor. According to Dr. Griffin Baum, a neurosurgeon and spine expert at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital and an assistant professor at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra University, antifatigue mats can reduce the negative impacts on our joints and spinal column caused by prolonged standing. The mats are also meant to encourage the muscles in our legs and feet to make microadjustments that stimulate blood flow and prevent blood from pooling in the lower body. These movements reduce the risk of leg swelling and cramps as well as more serious conditions such as blood clots.
All the mats we tested measured approximately 2 feet by 3 feet, and each of them was advertised as ¾ inch thick (more on that later). Though we know that every mat we tested was made mostly from polyurethane foam, we weren’t able to get much more information from manufacturers about additional materials. Some mats had textured surfaces, while some were entirely smooth. All had beveled edges and no-slip backings meant to reduce the potential for trips or stumbles, although they varied in effectiveness.
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Chase is an associate editor for ATK Reviews. He's an epidemiologist-turned-equipment tester and biscuit enthusiast.