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Standing desks have grown popular and many of us now spend at least some of our workday standing, rather than sitting, at our computers.
The problem with this is that it can lead to muscle fatigue, sore feet, and various aches and pains. Standing desk mats are designed to alleviate the fatigue by providing cushioning. Some mats, like the Ergodriven Topo, go a step further with contours that are designed to get you moving and working your muscles.
I’ve been using the Ergodriven Topo standing desk mat for a few weeks as I switched from sitting in a chair to standing on the carpet several times during my workday and I’ve felt the benefits. For someone who stands on hardwood floors, these benefits will likely be more obvious.
What are the benefits of a standing desk mat?
According to studies such as this one from the American Journal of Epidemiology, sitting is associated with a whole host of health problems. But it’s not like standing is the best option either — studies indicate that long periods of standing has its own set of issues like fatigue and soreness. Research suggests that movement is key, and any amount of physical activity is better than remaining sedentary — this is where anti-fatigue mats that encourage movement can help.
Simple, rectangular, foam anti-fatigue mats have been around for a long time. Some people use them in the kitchen or garage — basically anywhere they might stand for long periods. The cushioning helps reduce fatigue in the leg muscles and it stops the soles of your feet from aching so much. The Ergodriven Topo is a single piece of thick foam and it offers that same cushioning, but what elevates it above basic anti-fatigue mats is the shape and its contours.
Review of the Ergodriven Topo
The Ergodriven Topo features a front rail with peaks in the corners, side rails, a ramp at the back, and a teardrop mound in the center. The mat is designed to encourage you to move throughout the day — Ergodriven offers a startup guide that shows you several different stances you can try to work your toes, feet, calves, and even your hips. Ultimately, the point is movement, which is the best way to feel the full benefit of your standing desk.
I had never used a contoured standing desk mat before the Ergodriven Topo, so I was interested to try it out. I use an adjustable standing desk and tend to change the height a few times a day to alternate between standing and sitting. I used to suffer from frequent back problems, but switching to a standing desk has greatly reduced my back pain. Standing desks and mats are not medical devices, and I’d suggest checking in with your doctor before considering using either one.
At first, the Ergodriven Topo felt weird. It’s quite large, at 26.25 x 29 inches, and the peaks and rails are pronounced. The first couple of times I used it, I got twinges of pain in my lower back, and as I’ve gotten used to the mat and found stances that suit me, that pain has evaporated. I particularly enjoy hanging my heels over the back ramp and flexing my calves for a good stretch. I also like standing with my feet in opposite corners.
I almost treated standing on the mat like an exercise routine, but what’s really smart about the Ergodriven Topo is that it encourages you to change position and stretch in different ways subconsciously; you’ll find yourself naturally moving every few minutes. Working your muscles absentmindedly as you type is pleasant, and I find myself moving more frequently with the mat than without.
The cushioning is nice, but I don’t think my sit-stand routine requires it since I have a carpeted office floor and often wear slippers. If you stand for several hours in a row, I think the foam will offer more benefits. Same if you have hardwood floors or wear slippers — I tried it on a hardwood floor when I was testing a standing desk converter with my dining table and the benefit of the cushioning became more obvious.
Cons to consider
The Ergodriven Topo is $99, which seems expensive for a piece of molded foam. In its defense, I like the pebbled texture, it feels durable, and the contours are ideal for a versatile set of stances, but it’s still quite a large investment. The mini version is recommended for people under 5’4″ and currently costs $69.
While it’s handy to be able to slide the Ergodriven Topo around with one foot, it’s a definite tripping hazard, so you’ll want to be careful. It has also left my robot vacuum stranded on a peak repeatedly, which is annoying.
The bottom line
The Ergodriven Topo does exactly what it promises to do: provide cushioning to reduce fatigue in your legs and feet, and contours that encourage frequent movement. This standing desk mat makes it easy to stretch different muscles without any real thought, but the biggest benefits will be reserved for those who usually stand on hard floors for long periods.
Should you buy it? Yes. If you stand still for long periods and have aching feet or sore calves, then the Ergodriven Topo can likely help.
What are your alternatives? For a plain anti-fatigue mat that offers good cushioning, consider the Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat ($38.99). If you’re sold on the idea of movement, then you may want to look at the Genius Mat by Sky Mats ($59.99). We highlight a handful of other options in our best standing desk mats guide.
Pros: Encourages movement, durable, one-piece design, cushioning is comfortable
Cons: Expensive, tripping hazard, can cause robot vacs to get stuck on peaks