Back pain from cement floor

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Forum topic by NH_Hermit posted 11-28-2010 03:35 PM 4558 views 1 time favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3122 days

11-28-2010 03:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’ve had terrible back pain these past few days, and the only thing I can find to blame is the cement floor on the new workshop after working in it for the past three days. My old shop had tile over a plywood subfloor that was over insulation boards and I never had any trouble.

I’m wondering if anyone experienced this and what they did to find relief, this side of re-covering the floor. Any suggestions for good shop shoes?

-- John from Hampstead

34 replies so far

View ChuckV's profile


3124 posts in 3553 days

#1 posted 11-28-2010 03:52 PM


I spend a lot of my shop time at my workbench. When Woodcraft had a 1/2-off sale on their anti-fatigue floor mats, I got four of them for around the bench. This has helped a lot and they have saved the edges of several chisels that decided to dive off the bench.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2945 days

#2 posted 11-28-2010 04:08 PM

Hi, John:
I found that those 2 ft x 2 ft square mats that they sell at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club or places like that are really helpful on the shop floors. They are quite inexpensive (about $20 per set of 4) and they do help pad the areas where you work most. They interlock like puzzle pieces and can be taken apart to store. I think they are about 3/4” or so dense foam. I found a picture of one piece for you:

I hope this helps somewhat. I think it both pads the floor and helps keep it a little warmer on your feet.

Take care, Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2876 days

#3 posted 11-28-2010 04:12 PM

There are several kind of mats to check out. I’m on the concrete every day, and have 5 separate soft spots: Front of the TS, front of the edge sander, front of the downdraft sanding table, front of and one end of the assembly table.

Some are solid with bevel edges. Some are perforated, Some are 24” squares that interlock jigsaw puzzle-style, and some are 12” squares that lock together and have separate bevel pieces so you can make notched type shapes (Dri-Dek is one brand name of these).

All of these are useful to me, bearing in mind that my collective feet are over 130 years old.

There’s a nice selection here Pictures and descriptions.

I hope this helps. Happy Feet make for good woodworking, for sure.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 2869 days

#4 posted 11-28-2010 04:56 PM

John, Look for the shop mat-flooring at the bargain-outlet places or cow/horse mats at the farm places. How are your boots? Too new or too old? Don’t for get socks. I wear a cushioned hiking sock and it really helps. A friend of mine wears one of those back belts and loves it. Good luck. -Jack

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3739 days

#5 posted 11-28-2010 05:08 PM

Hey john I also have back pains and have put down the Homedepot anti-fatigue mates at every station in my shop, they really help and I can now work all day with them.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3199 days

#6 posted 11-28-2010 05:30 PM

I started with a few packs of Harbor Freight (sound familiar <grin> ?) 4-pack mats, but … eventually …. I shelled out about a hundred bucks for a Wearwell that sits in the “corner” created by my workbench and table saw.

Stays put. VERY comfortable. Seems darned-near oil-proof (though I’m pretty sure it’s the “dry area” type).

Highly recommend it.

-- -- Neil

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3329 days

#7 posted 11-28-2010 07:35 PM

if your shop floor isnt to big…i would put some 2×2 sleepers down and put 3/4 ply over them…you will have nothing but problems with a concrete floor..maybe the mats are a cheaper fix..i dont know…ive got a wooden floor in my shop…so glad i didnt do a concrete pad…...good luck

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View terrilynne's profile


836 posts in 2919 days

#8 posted 11-28-2010 08:00 PM

Along with the mats get some gel filled sole inserts for your shoes, about $12.00 a pair. These are a big help also.

-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2987 days

#9 posted 11-28-2010 09:13 PM

Go to a restaurant supply store and buy some chef’s mats. There are also gel mats.

View SignWave's profile


440 posts in 3061 days

#10 posted 11-28-2010 09:46 PM

I’m too cheap and lazy to put those mats all over the place, so I get the gel cushions for my shoes, instead. There’s quite a difference for a minimal investment.

Also, you might want to think about ergonomics. For example, are you reaching in new ways to do things due to the arrangement of your new shop? Also, think about the height of your work surfaces. I find that if I’m working over a surface that is on the low side, my lower back hurts after a while.

Or what about temperature? is the concrete sucking up all the heat and causing tension in your body to make up for the heat loss?

Have you been working more than usual (perhaps trying to maximize the holiday downtime)? If you’re pushing yourself more than usual, that might mean you need to take more breaks, stretch, etc.

The pain might not be from just one thing, but a combination of several things.

I hope you find some relief, and soon!

-- Barry,

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3122 days

#11 posted 11-29-2010 12:55 AM

Thanks for the replies. You’ve given me some ideas.

First, I too am cheap and lazy, so I’m going to try the gel cushions first.

and Signwave you hit the nail on the head about the cold concrete sucking out my body heat. My toes are still cold after a couple hours in the house, and yes I was trying to take advantage of the holiday weekend.

But Grizz does have a valid point too. My shop is 16’x20’ and would take about 10 sheets of plywood to cover. I measured the distance from the floor to the door threshold to be 1”, so 5/8” plywood, plus a possible installation of vinyl tile, would still leave a ¼”. Would ½” plywood be a better way to go?

A quick guesstimate of the cost would be somewhere around $200 without the vinyl and about $250 for the vinyl.

Now is the best time to do it since I am through tiring out and repainting and about ready to build the wood rakes and wall shelving. This workshop will hopefully be used for many years to come (and Lee, I’ll see your 130 combined years and raise you 4).

One of the many things I don’t know is how to simply fasten the plywood to the concrete. A google search got me this video which looks simple enough, but I have never heard of express nails before and everything I looked for seemed to only available in Europe.

Has anyone used express nails, or is there a better (but still easy) method?

-- John from Hampstead

View Brandon Hintz's profile

Brandon Hintz

53 posts in 3034 days

#12 posted 11-29-2010 03:21 AM

If you’re looking for the quickest way to attach wood to concrete you will be looking for Powder Actuated Nailers, if you want the most cost effective (provided you already own a power drill) TAPCONs would be best.

-- Potential is limited only by imagination

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3787 days

#13 posted 11-29-2010 03:28 AM


I have a concrete floor in my “Workshop in the Woods”. Even though I do have several anti-fatuge mats, it is hard to not spend some time on the hard surface. When I find myself beginning to suffer a little bit, I pour a cup of coffee, and go outside and sit & enjoy for awhile.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3069 days

#14 posted 11-29-2010 03:39 AM

John, I got real tired of the cold concrete, and the cheapest solution I found was laminate floor from BJ’s – I think they sell it for around $1.00 a square foot, and I put some old carpet on top of that near my bench.

View traupmann's profile


124 posts in 2813 days

#15 posted 11-29-2010 07:48 AM

I’ve found that soft soled shoes (e.f.: Vibram) really help, as well as better posture. I suffer from a weak back also, A quick stool, high work surface, and soft shoes work well for me

-- chas -- looking for Serta sponsorship to go Pro...

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