Gymnastics is a wonderful physical activity that can not only increase your flexibility and improve your general health but also help you get in touch with your body and mind. Kind of like yoga, but a lot more fun. So, no wonder more and more people practice gymnastics outside of the gym class. But practicing this sport at home carries some risks if you’re inexperienced or don’t use the right equipment and accessories. Since it’s an activity that involves drops and heavy landings, it’s important to have a good gymnastics mat that can cushion them and prevent injuries. Here’s what you need to look for in a mat.
A gymnastics mat has a core made of foam, either polyethylene or polyurethane. Polyethylene foam is very solid and sturdy and generally considered for professional use and in sporting events. On the other hand, polyurethane foam is softer but still supportive, which makes it suitable for school gym classes and home use. The foam is covered in a protective layer which can be made of vinyl or plastic. Usually, the mat’s cover is removable which allows you to easily replace it after it wears out without having to buy a completely new mat. It’s important to choose a mat that’s mildew resistant and has antibacterial properties to help you maintain good hygiene.
Thickness is another major consideration when buying a gymnastics mat. Quite logically, if the mat is too thin, it won’t offer enough protection and cushioning. However, if it’s too thick, your hands and feet will sink in it, making it more difficult to practice movements and keep balance. For that reason, it’s important to find the perfect middle ground, namely, a mat that’s somewhere between 3.2 cm and 4.2 cm thick. So, try choosing a mat around that range.
Before buying a mat, you need to think about who is going to use it and whether it’s large enough to practice certain exercises. On the market, you can find a variety of sizes, suitable for children and adults. However, don’t forget to consider where you’re going to use the mat, and where you plan to store it. A great tip is to choose a mat with Velcro on each end of its covers which can allow you to expand your practice surface by connecting additional mats.
Additional Things to Consider
And finally, ask yourself where do you plan to store your mat when not in use? If you have a room specially dedicated to your practice, a regular mat will do. But if you like to be able to bring your mat with you to the gym or for an outdoor session, a folding mat is easy to carry around. Folding mats are also very convenient to store around the house. Once you’ve made your mind up and settled for a mat, don’t forget to clean it after every session. To do so, simply take a damp towel and go over the cover. You won’t need any cleaning agents if you choose an anti-bacterial cover. Otherwise, you can keep the mat germ free by wiping it with a sanitizer.