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What Are Crash Mats or Pads Used for?

By Paige Cerulli Created: May, 2024

Crash mats, also called crash pads, are essential tools in many activities. These thick pads are designed for maximum shock absorption, helping to prevent injuries and reduce the force of an impact. While you might envision a crash mat being used for gymnastics, these mats are highly versatile and used in countless activities.

Crash Mats or Pads Have Many Uses

Crash mats can help keep you safe when developing skills, practicing, or working toward a new goal. If you’re training in one of these activities, chances are you’ll use a crash pad to help maximize your safety.

Aerial Arts

crash mat for aerial
Aerial artists are suspended above the ground as they perform skills and routines. A slip or fall, even from a lower height, can result in injuries. Crash mats can help aerial artists stay safe while both practicing and performing.

Martial Arts

While many martial arts skills are performed standing, takedowns can significantly impact athletes’ bodies. When practicing these skills, athletes can benefit from the extra shock absorption of a crash mat. Many martial artists choose four-inch-thick mats, which absorb impact from takedowns and throws. These mats are also ideal for wrestling training.


In Judo, throwing and pinning are the main focus, meaning athletes can have a significant impact while training. Judo crash mats measuring at least 1.5 inches thick can help to protect athletes from these impacts.

Climbing Walls and Indoor Bouldering

Indoor rock climbing and bouldering involve climbing many feet above the ground. Even with standard climbing safety precautions, injuries can still occur in these gym environments. Climbers often use thick landing or crash mats to reduce the chance of injury.


crash pad for gymnastics
Gymnastics crash pads are essential for gymnasts who are learning new skills. Trainers often put crash pads underneath or beside equipment, like balance beams, just in case an athlete falls. Mats are also used to absorb impact as gymnasts train, such as by cushioning the impact after a tumbling run.


Cheerleaders rely on crash mats for higher-risk activities like stunting. The mats help protect them if spotters can’t catch them, and crash pads are also useful at the end of tumbling runs.

Ninja Warrior

Safety is also essential for Ninja Warrior and similar obstacle training courses. You’ll often find crash pads placed beneath obstacles where athletes can fall or tumble from height or at speed.


Crash mats also function as stunt mats, and can be used for cheerleading, parkour, or other risky stunts where an athlete might fall from height.


crash mat for parkour
Parkour obstacle courses push athletes to the limit, but athletes also risk slipping and falling from higher obstacles. Placing a crash pad beneath those obstacles can help to soften the landing and protect the athletes.

Law Enforcement Training

Even law enforcement officers use crash mats in their training. These mats help to absorb the impact of falls and tumbles when learning and practicing takedowns and other essential skills.

Sensory Rooms and Physical or Occupational Therapy Centers

These mats are also ideal for sensory rooms for those with autism and occupational therapy centers. They’re often used in children's spaces to increase the room’s safety. The mats create safer surfaces for physical therapy, too.

How Thick Should a Crash Mat Be?

crash pad thickness
For a crash mat to function properly, it’s essential to choose a mat that’s thick enough for the job. These mats are available in 2- to 12-inch thicknesses, with thicker mats offering more shock absorption and overall protection than thinner mats.

If you’re on the fence about the best thickness for your needs, always opt for the thicker mat to maximize protection. For low-level gymnastics training, two-inch mats may be just fine. Once athletes start meeting the ground from height or at speed, you’ll want to move up to a thicker eight-inch mat. Twelve-inch mats offer maximum protection and are ideal for more advanced athletes and skills, like gymnasts who are going to be falling off of a balance beam or uneven bars, or martial artists who are doing repeated throws and takedowns.

Order Your Crash Mats and Pads Today

At Greatmats, we have a fantastic crash mat and crash pad selection. These mats feature top-quality construction, including durable yet shock-absorbing foam wrapped in vinyl covers for long-lasting use. The mats vary in size and thickness, so whether you’re looking for a mat for your beginner-level gymnasts or need ultimate protection for advanced athletes, we’ll have a mat that will fit the bill.

Contact Greatmats customer support today with any questions. We’re happy to recommend a mat for sale that may be appropriate for your needs and can provide information on shipping quotes, too.