My kitchen floor is the 25 year old vinyl squares over a slab foundation that the original owner had put in. At some point I will have to replace it as it’s starting to chip in places, but for now, it’s serviceable, as off-gassed as it can get, and doesn’t look absolutely horrendous yet. Like most hard floors, vinyl over concrete can be really painful on the legs and back when prepping, cooking, and/or cleaning up. Since I love to cook and will sometimes spend several hours at a time in the kitchen, my body knows kitchen fatigue all too well.
One solution to this is to wear shoes in the kitchen. I do not like wearing shoes when I don’t have to, especially in hot situations like the kitchen! I bought a pair of orthopedic Crocs to only wear in the kitchen, but I found my feet sweating. That was a short-lived experiment though it did give me a bit of relief.
Another solution is anti-fatigue mats. These mats are designed to help reduce the strain on the body when standing for a long time. I was initially skeptical of how much they could help, but I was tired of my body hurting so much after I spent time in the kitchen. Most of the anti-fatigue mats contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a toxic chemical which releases nauseous fumes that are very difficult for the chemically sensitive to tolerate.
I found a series of mats by Imprint that was PVC-free and actually wasn’t much more than other anti-fatigue mats. I bought one in February 2012 and put it in the garage when it arrived. It off-gassed very quickly and was able to be in the house within a week even with my severe chemical sensitivities. I was really impressed with how non-toxic they are. Best of all, the mat helped amazingly with the fatigue on my feet, legs and back in the kitchen far more than even wearing shoes did. (Good riddance!)
The kids and I were scooting the original mat around so much that I bought two more, one for by the sink and one by the stove in addition to the original one we kept by the island counter where we prep food. Then I started using one of the mats for while I was ironing. I was getting tired of moving it into another room to iron, so now I bought one for just by the ironing board. (I wear a lot of 100% cotton clothing and sew quite a bit, so the ironing board does get a lot of use in my house.) In terms of body fatigue, the mats are so much better than the hardwoods or throw rugs in my house. Because I loved the mats so much, I also bought one for my dad for his birthday last year.
The price varies by color and size; the 36" ones that I have purchased varied from $42-$56 when I have bought them depending if I could catch a sale or not. My original color choice was determined by the one that was significantly cheaper than others!
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