The type of mat you use when practicing yoga or other exercises can affect your comfort and stability. Most mats are made from rubber that’s either latex, natural rubber (NR), or synthetic rubber. Some people find these types of mats too slippery to keep their balance while others prefer the feel of a smooth surface.
Rubber mats come in three different types:
Latex – Latex mats have been used by yoga instructors and athletes for over 100 years because they’re soft enough to cushion your joints but durable enough to support high levels of weight on them. They also offer excellent traction without slipping.
Natural Rubber (NR) – NR mats are often called “harder” than latex mats because they tend to be more durable but not as flexible. They’re typically used by weightlifters and martial artists who want a hard-wearing mat with good traction. These mats are usually more firm than latex mats, so they may not be the best choice if your goal is flexibility.
Synthetic Rubber (SR) – SR mats are softer than both latex and NR mats and are therefore considered ideal for those looking for a cushioned, flexible mat that offers great grip while providing extra padding for your knees and elbows.
You can buy rubber mats at most health food stores, sporting goods stores like REI, yoga studios, and online retailers like Amazon and YogaMat.
Some people swear by one brand or another, but there’s no need to worry about finding out which brand is the best. The only thing that matters is what kind of mat feels right for you. The more comfortable you are while exercising, the better your performance will be!
Here are some factors to consider when choosing between latex, NR, and SR mats:
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The durability of mats depends on how thick they are and whether or not they’re reinforced. If your mat has large holes or tears, it won’t last very long. Some people don’t mind buying cheap mats that aren’t reinforced, but this isn’t recommended. There are many inexpensive mats that are reinforced and still provide good traction.
Slipping is an issue with all mats, so if you’re concerned about slipping, choose a thicker mat. Thickness varies depending on the type of mat you choose.
If you’re using a latex mat, look for one that’s 1/2 inch or thicker. If you’re using an NR mat, look for a 3/4-inch or thicker mat. If you’re using an SR mat, look for a 1/2-inch mat. You can find mats that meet these criteria at most health food stores and online retailers.
A flexible mat is the go-to solution if you’re looking for a non-slippery, cushioned mat that provides good support for your body. Look for a mat that’s 2 inches or greater in thickness. This will make sure that you get adequate support while giving you a lot of room for movement.
Make sure you purchase a mat that’s washable so you can clean it regularly. A mat that isn’t easily washable will quickly become dirty and lose its ability to absorb sweat. For this reason, it’s important to change your mat every few months.
Which mat is best for beginners?
There are plenty of mats that are suitable for beginners. The key is to pick a mat that’s appropriate for your goals and abilities. Beginners should start with a thin mat that’s not at least 1/8-inch thick so they can practice safely without causing injury.
As their level of fitness improves, they should progress to a thicker mat. If you’re looking to build muscle strength, then you might want to choose a thicker mat instead of a thinner one. Choose a mat that meets the guidelines above.
What type of mat is best for pregnant women?
Most pregnancy yoga classes only recommend that pregnant women wear flat, foam mats that are designed specifically for pregnant women. However, if you’ve already tried wearing a regular yoga mat during pregnancy and haven’t had any problems, you don’t need to stop using it just because you’re expecting.
That said, it’s never a bad idea to switch up your workout routine before your baby’s due date to prevent unnecessary strain on your back, hips, and pelvis. If possible, try using a specialized mat that’s designed specifically for pregnant women.
Is it safe to exercise barefoot on a mat?
Yes, but you should always wear shoes when exercising on a mat.
When you exercise barefoot, your feet absorb a lot of the shock that comes from landing on the ground after jumping or running. Without the cushions provided by the mat, your feet will feel as though they’re going to hit the floor when you land. This causes impact on your joints and muscles, increasing the risk of injury.