I finally brought my anti-fatigue mats in form the great outdoors. It all starts with the fact that I work standing up. A habit I developed back in college in my painting classes. I find it less tiring and more productive than working while sitting down. Whenever I work sitting down I’m a lot more tired at the end of the day. I sit down when I want a rest from work. My drawing table is at standing height, my computer is at standing height, and of course my easel is at standing height. That’s how I roll.

Shoes are an important part of the standing equation. A good pair is essential. Sneakers are not up to the task. They may be fine for walking or playing sports but don’t offer they kind of support it takes to stand all day. My feet will hurt if I stand in in sneakers for a long time. I never wear sneakers except when exercising. Boots are good. A nice pair with a steel shank and you’re good to go. I have a fifteen year old pair of combat boots that are still up to the task. There are made from old fashioned hard leather which takes forever to break in but offers a lot of support. They are just about to fall apart so I’ll have to find a new pair. Usually I can be found in a pair of black Rockport “Northfields”. They are a bit pricey at a hundred bucks a pair and I have to put cushioned insoles in them but they are the only shoe I have found that are good for standing and fit me well. The extra wide size does it. I just bought a new pair.

Still age takes it’s toll. I stand on a hard tile floor and the last couple of years my legs have started to fatigue more than they used to. So last December I decided to look into getting some anti-fatigue mats. I looked around and purchased some fairly inexpensive ones from on line. They arrived in short order. They are the kind that fit together like puzzle pieces so I put them together and gave ’em a stand. Soft and squishy but firm. Nice. Then I started to notice a chemical smell. It was so strong that it filled the room. Soon a headache followed. That was enough of that.

I’m not a person who is “chemically sensitive” and can smell chemicals on every manufactured item so you can imagine just how much these mats were “off gassing”. I couldn’t take it. I put the mats out in the back yard and began using some piled up cardboard as a mat. That worked okay but wasn’t a long term solution. I figured that after a week or so outside with the cold winter wind blowing the stink off them the mats would be okay. Yet in late January they were still as stinky as ever. Oh, and California says the mats can give you cancer. There’s a nice label to read. But I still don’t know if they give the manufacturers or the users cancer. I do know that I don’t want to breath in any chemical fumes. Bad idea.

My brother in law came through with another mat for me that had no smell. I put it in front of my computer and it worked great. I’d drag it over to my easel when I painted. A bit of a pain but, what the heck, my knees thanked me. My drawing table has a piece of carpet in front of it that has served me well for many years as a mat so I was pretty well set up anti fatigue wise.

It was just recently I thought about bringing those stinky mats inside to give ’em another go. They’ve been mostly a toy for my three year old nephew whenever he was over. It’s fun to put the interlocking edges together and then pull them apart again. It makes lying down on blacktop easier too.

Eight months in the outside air did the trick. No more off gassing and no more headaches. The mats are in front of my easel and make for a nice standing platform. They even make doing push ups more comfortable. They collect dirt though. I think I’m going to get one of those small cordless hand vacuums to keep the mats clean. They’re good to pace on too. So many uses. But if you buy them just keep in mind it’ll be eight months before you can use them.