Ease Up On Yourself
If you're logged onto this website, chances are you either cook professionally or cook avidly at home. Either way, you probably spend a great deal of time on your feet and have a good sense of just how difficult it is to stand for long periods of time. Restaurant kitchens are outfitted with thick, rubber mats that help to alleviate the pressure of hard floors on your feet, but most home kitchens are not. While formica and soft wood floors are not much of a strain, tile and concrete floors can become outright painful after a while, and can lead to some serious issues down the line. As the private chef for a family, I have worked in my fair share of home kitchens, and most of them have had floors that were pretty easy on the feet. When my employer moved into his current home, however, I wasn't prepared for how hard the floors were. After the first couple of weeks working in this new kitchen, I noticed that my hips were sore, my knees were achy and my ankles were getting swollen on a daily basis. At first I just chalked it up to getting older, and figured that this was just another drawback of the profession. But then, I started to think about why this was happening to me all of a sudden, and it occurred to me that the floors were just a lot harder than I was used to.
I spoke to my boss about how to remedy the problem and we agreed that the solution was to buy some mats for the kitchen. The problem was that this is a very exposed kitchen, centrally located in the home, and the thought of laying down ugly, bulky restaurant mats just seemed preposterous. So I went online and did some research. Over and over, I read about a brand of kitchen mats called GelPro, that received consistently great reviews and decided to check them out.
The mats come in a surprising array of colors and patterns, and from what I had read, were quite durable too. Once I started pricing the mats, however, I was taken aback at their cost. A 20″ by 30″ mat by itself was priced at $100. Based on the size of the kitchen I was working in, I estimated that I'd need around 12-15 mats to line the floors, but I knew that I couldn't ask my boss to invest that much money on something that may not even solve my problem. There was also the issue of cleaning all of those mats at the end of each work day and that had no appeal.
Ultimately, I decided to buy two mats and give them a try. What a difference they made! They were soft enough to cradle my feet a bit, but firm enough to help me maintain good posture. After working on them for just a few days I was amazed at how much better my whole body felt and knew that there was no way I was going to return them.
Rather than going back and buying a bunch more, however, I ultimately settled on having just three of them and put them in the spots where I spend the most time standing–in front of the stove, the sink, and the counter where I do my prep work. The mats are easy to clean and usually I just pick them up and run them under the kitchen faucet to rinse off any stuck on food.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that these mats have totally saved me and have definitely helped me to avoid what was starting become a chronic pain issue. Yes they're a bit expensive, but I've been using them on a regular basis for over a year now and they look as good as they did the day I bought them. I think that these mats are a worthwhile investment for anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet, particularly considering the alternatives.