I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis for the past year or so, and to my surprise, boat trips have proved to be especially tough. I didn’t realize how much I stand while operating the boat, and I’ve learned that on power vessels of all sizes, shock and vibration can be transmitted through the hull right to the helm station.
This shock and vibration can cause fatigue, even pain, in the feet, legs, and/or back. For me, it hits me right in my tender left heal. This is pretty frustrating, especially when we’ve arrived at some exciting destination, and I feel just about wiped out for the day!
So last fall, at the Pacific Marine Expo, I ran into the folks from Sea Shocks. When I described my situation, I was given a demonstration that was pretty convincing. They dropped a bowling ball on the spring-like "twin-hemisphere" shock-absorbing core, and the ball just stopped. No bounce at all.
So what does that prove?
They’re demonstrating that the pad absorbs energy. As would a stack of fluffy towels, of course, but you wouldn’t want to stand on it all day! What makes the Sea Shock pad special is that it absorbs energy while also providing a firm, predictable surface on which to stand.
See, it isn’t "squishy" or "spongy". It’s not like stepping into a shoe with a gel insert or something. It’s firm, yielding very slightly when stepped upon, and it offers good, stable footing. The core material absorbs shock and vibration, insulating your body from it.
Honestly, it doesn’t feel all that different from standing on the deck. But then, standing on the deck doesn’t feel bad, either; it’s only after several hours of it that I realize something’s wrong!
I’ve been using the Sea Shock mat on my recent outings, and it’s making a difference. I can’t claim that I’m pain-free at the end of the day, but I’m not pain-free at the end of ANY day! It feels like I experience LESS pain using the Sea Shock mat, but there are so many variables involved that my intuition here does not constitute "data" in any empirical sense.
However, I can say that once the tenderness sets in, as it inevitably does, I experience a definite preference for standing on the Sea Shock mat, especially while underway.
The Sea Shocks console mat is approximately 17.25” wide by 32.25” long and 1.5” thick. It weighs about 10 pounds, and the outer shell is a slightly tacky (texture-wise, not quality-wise!) polyvinyl; in my experience, the mat tends to stay put. Available in gray and blue, it retails for around $150.
So is it worth the price? If you experience back, leg, or foot pain after a day spent on the boat, you might want to give it a try. If it works—if it reduces your discomfort to any noticeable extent—then it’s worth the money.