Complaints of musculoskeletal pain are common among employees who stand for prolonged periods. This study sought to determine if an anti-fatigue mat (AFM) could uniquely affect low back pain (LBP), low back posture, and foot-floor interface responses in individuals prone to developing LBP (termed pain developers (PDs)) during prolonged standing experiments compared to those who do not develop LBP under the same exposures (termed non pain developers (NPDs)). Sixteen volunteers (8 PDs and 8 NPDs) were recruited based on their pain-development tendencies, which were established in previous standing experiments. They visited the laboratory on two separate days for 60 min of light manual work while standing on either a rigid floor or AFM. All participants were asymptomatic at the beginning of each experimental session. The amount of LBP experienced during the standing exposure, measured via a visual analogue scale, was reduced (p = 0.03) in the PD group when on the AFM (3.6 ± 6 mm) compared to the rigid floor (6.8 ± 7 mm). LBP levels remained low and unchanged (p = 0.5) between the AFM (2.4 ± 5 mm) and rigid floor (1.6 ± 2 mm) conditions for the NPD group. Neither postural nor foot-floor interface measures correlated with this unique reduction of LBP for the PD group when standing on the AFM. The AFM did, however, increase centre of pressure excursion (NPD 55% increase; PD 35% increase) and tended to increase the number of body weight shifts (NPD 116% increase; PD 54% increase) in both the PD and NPD groups. These findings suggest that AFMs may selectively benefit individuals prone to developing standing-induced back pain by facilitating subtle movements at the foot-floor interface.
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