A slant board is one of those pieces of kit that many people will likely have seen but very few will actually have any idea what it does. An extremely basic looking item, most will simply write it off as a gimmicky piece of equipment from the past. However, those who do will be making a big mistake.
Despite its understated appearance, a slant board is able to offer a huge range of extremely beneficial effects for a wide range of people. From those dealing with injuries to dedicated gym rats who want to take their training to the next level, slant boards have something to offer for everyone.
The problem then, lies in the fact that, while it is very simple looking and incredibly easy to use, that is only the case if you know what you are meant to do with it. That brings us to the topic of today’s article, as I present you with a comprehensive guide to all you need to know about slant boards.
From the different types available and what they are for to how to use them and who has the most to gain, we will cover every aspect of the slant board. So, if you have been thinking of using a slant board or even if you are just curious to know more about them, this is the article for you.
What Are Slant Boards
Slant boards are basic, compact, easy to use pieces of exercise equipment. Their primary aim is to enable a user to work their calves and ankles, to help keep the bones, muscles, and connective tissues strong and in good condition, while they also offer some benefits to the core as well.
Slant boards can be made from a wide range of different materials, but plastic and wood are the most popular choices, as they have to be both lightweight and durable. While they have been used regularly since the late 1940s, there is evidence of confirmed slant board usage as far back as 1902.
The name slant board comes from the prominent angle in their design, which will usually be around 20 to 25 degrees in most of the top slant boards, although it can be both lower and higher than this in some models. It is this angled structure that creates the benefits that a slant board is able to offer.
How To Use A Slant Board
Thanks largely to the extremely simple design of a slant board, it is an item that is very easy to use for the vast majority of people. While the exact usage can differ slightly from board to board, brand to brand, and person to person, most will be used in largely the same manner.
To use a slant board, just stand on its sloped side with your toes pointing up or down, depending on what exercise you are performing. This will help to strengthen and stretch the area, boosting your performance and control of the muscles and joints, while reducing the risk of them getting injured.
The main difference between the various types of slant boards that can affect this is whether or not yours is adjustable. Many slant boards have a fixed angle to their slant and, while these are definitely the simplest to use, as there is nothing to do but stand on them, they do give you less control.
However, if you happen to have one of the slant boards that allows you to adjust its angle, you can add some extra versatility to your sessions. This means you will be able to achieve a fuller development of the muscles, joints, and bones around your ankles, calves, and lower body.
In the majority of slant board sessions, you will want to stay on the board for 4 to 5 minutes at first, with a more experienced user raising that up to no more than 10, as this will be more than enough.
You will feel the benefits not only in your lower body but in your back, chest, and shoulders as well. That said, as with any exercises, things can always vary from board to board and exercise to exercise. If in any doubt, listen to your body and make changes to the duration of your sessions accordingly.
Who Can Use A Slant Board?
A slant board is an extremely versatile piece of equipment and one that is suitable to be used by the vast majority of people. However, it is especially useful for people with health conditions that affect their strength, mobility, and flexibility, as well as those undergoing rehabilitation for an injury.
That said, anyone in these groups who does decide to use one should take some precautions before doing so. This includes checking with your doctor to make sure you are safe to use one, starting off slowly and working your way up, and making sure help is on hand if you have any issues with falling.
In more relaxed settings, a slant board can also be effectively used by people warming up or cooling down before or after a workout, especially if they are training their lower body. This is because it will amplify their usual stretches, further aiding mobility and recovery while reducing post workout pain.
While people with balance problems may find the effects of a slant board beneficial, they should be very careful if they decide to use them. This is because the angle of the board makes balancing more difficult anyway, so it could lead to them falling and hurting themselves, especially if they are alone.
Muscles Worked On A Slant Board
The main muscles worked when using a slant board are the muscles around the ankles and calves. As all of these muscles are repeatedly used on a daily basis, even when you complete tasks as simple as taking a walk, they can easily become overworked, fatigued, or even damaged, leading to injury.
As a slant board will help to stretch and strengthen these muscles, it can significantly lower the risk of you injuring them throughout the course of your daily life. It is also particularly good at providing support for the Achilles tendon, which is among the strongest yet most delicate in the human body.
While mainly made to focus on the lower part of the legs, a slant board can also work the muscles further up the body to a lesser extent as well. By helping to correct the posture of a user, it can help realign and strengthen muscles throughout the torso, including the abs, back, chest, and shoulders.
The Benefits Of A Slant Board
Despite being an extremely basic looking piece of equipment, the are actually a great number of benefits of a slant board. While the design and way you use a slant board may suggest it will only help the lower body, it has been proven to be equally advantageous for the upper body as well.
As the complete list of slant board benefits is far too extensive to cover in a single article, we will now look at some of the main benefits they offer. This should give you an idea of what you can hope to achieve by using one and show you just how valuable it can be to your health and wellbeing.
Encourages Greater Balance & Stability
One of the main jobs of a slant board is to enhance your balance. This can be achieved simply by standing in different positions on the slope and using the muscles of the lower body to keep you stable. There are plenty of ways to improve your balance even more by using a slant board though.
Perhaps the best, most common option is to do stretches on your slant board. As the angle will force you into maintaining tension while stretching, it will make sure that your muscles, ligaments, and tendons receive sufficient work and activation through all of their fibres and full range of motion.
No matter how you decide to improve your balance on a slant board, it will also aid you by boosting the strength of the muscles in the legs and hips. This will greatly elevate your balance control even further, increasing your stability and lowering the chance of you falling and hurting yourself.
Helps To Reduce Or Prevent Inflammation
One of the best ways to reduce inflammation in a muscle is by stretching it, as this improves the flow of blood it receives and increases its tensile strength, both of which will also help to improve pain levels. For these reasons, slant boards are frequently used to treat inflammation in the lower body.
Stretching the muscles after a workout is especially beneficial, particularly if they are inflamed, as they will be warm and easy to fully stretch, without any great risk of injury. By doing your stretches on a slant board, you can make them deeper and more effective, maximising their effects.
Slant boards are hugely beneficial for conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, and other similar issues. They can also be used to aid the inflammation caused by some types of arthritis, as strengthening the areas around the joints takes a lot of the strain off of the problem area.
Perhaps the most common setting in which you will find a slant board is in a rehabilitation centre, as evidence continues to show they can be a useful physical therapy tool to help improve a person’s walking ability. This occurs as it both improves balance and reduces inflammation, as we have seen.
Beyond these reasons though, slant boards also force a user’s centre of gravity to move forward. As the basic act of standing needs multiple ligaments, muscles, and tendons, in our feet, hips, and legs to work together, all of them are at risk of serious injury if even one becomes weak or misaligned.
Shifting your centre of gravity in the way that slant boards do will help to strengthen many of these stabiliser muscles and connective tissues, and even improve your posture. This will prevent an injury from putting too much strain on the surrounding areas, helping them to stay strong while it heals.
Speeds Up Exercise Recovery And Prevents Post Workout Aches & Pains
One of the simplest yet most effective and commonly used benefits of a slant board is its ability to be used as a tool for warming up or cooling down before or after a workout. As most people know, stretching around a workout is very beneficial and a slant board will only enhance these effects.
Your pre and post workout stretching routines can reduce or even prevent aches and pains from occurring, as they massage the fibres and prevent lactic acid from building up. Boosting these effects with a slant board will therefore improve recovery, lower pain, and enhance your results.
Using A Slant Board For Stretching And Recovery
The primary use of a slant boards is for stretching or to assist with recovery and rehabilitation from an injury. This is because they are great for stretching your feet, ankles, and calf muscles, as well as areas further up your body, and are far more effective that basic stretching without an aid.
When you use a slant board to stretch the lower legs, not only will you make them stronger and more flexible, but you can also help to reduce inflammation in the area. This is an extremely helpful aid for reducing pain and will even speed up the recovery process as a whole.
Slant boards even help to improve blood circulation in the area. This helps with the overall recovery process even more, while also offering benefits like better growth and pain reduction, as well as even less obvious things, such as the improved quality and health of the skin.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With A Slant Board?
The list of conditions that you can treat with a slant board are extensive. That said, beyond basic boosts to impaired mobility and recovery from aches, the main issues that slant boards are used to treat are Achilles tendonitis, calf strains, patella tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints.
However, while a slant board can be beneficial for many of these conditions, you will want to make sure you are doing good instead of harm. If your condition doesn’t start improving or the symptoms are severe, seek advice from a doctor, to ensure you are doing the right thing.
The Best Slant Board Exercises & Stretches
There are a wide range of different exercises that you can use a slant board to do. However, the best exercises and stretches that you can perform on one will depend on what you are hoping to achieve. For the best all round experience, you want to use a combination that offers different benefits.
Most people will start off by stretching their lower legs and feet, as a slant board is designed to help you achieve a deeper stretch here, as the foot on the board will align with its angle. A few good options for this area are the calf stretch, Achilles stretch, and plantar fascia stretch.
You then want to move further up the legs and start stretching the quads, glutes, and hamstrings as well. This will not only make the whole leg more flexible but will also help to improve your posture. Among the best options for this are the hamstring stretch, eccentric squats, and side lunge squats.
Once you have mastered the stretches for your legs, you now want to straighten your spine as well. To do this, while in any pose, take a deep breath and focus on standing up tall, with a straight back, shoulders back, and stomach pulled in. This will greatly help you to improve your posture.
You can then also mix things up further by moving your hips forward slightly while doing this. This will add even more depth to the stretch you are performing, boosting your posture and the strength and flexibility of your legs even more.
If you have an adjustable slant board, you should then increase the angle of the slope as soon as you feel comfortable with any of these exercises. This will essentially increase the intensity and effect of the exercise or stretch, making it more beneficial, without requiring you to do anything extra.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Before we conclude our guide on all you need to know about slant boards, I want to go over some of the most frequently asked questions people have about them. This will ensure everyone goes away knowing if a slant board is right for them and, if so, which one they should choose.
Are Slant Boards Effective?
Slant boards have consistently been proven to be extremely effective and offer a range of different benefits. They can make muscles more responsive and activate more fibres than regular stretches, speed up rehabilitation, and even boost your balance, durability, posture, strength, and stability.
What Is The Best Slant Board?
There is no one overall best slant board as, while they all do a very similar job, each individual person will have their own wants and needs. If you are struggling to decide which board is right for you, check out our guide on the best slant boards on the market for a little bit of help and guidance.
What Are Some Tips Or Things To Look Out For When Buying A Slant Board?
You want to aim to purchase a slant board with an angle of about 20 to 25 degrees. This is widely accepted to be the standard angle as it is able to help you achieve the full range of benefits of a slant board, without pushing yourself too hard and risking injury, which can occur with steeper gradients.
People with particularly large feet may also want to consider the length and width of the board. As slant boards are available in many different sizes, you want to make sure you can stand comfortably on it with your feet in the correct position, to be sure you have an enjoyable, effective experience.
The material is another factor to consider. While most slant boards are light and durable, the level to which they meet these properties can vary. Be sure to find one that offers the balance you need.
Finally, decide if you want a fixed or adjustable slant board. While fixed slant boards will be easier to use for beginners, adjustable slant boards allow for more variety and greater progression, so are a better option for anyone who plans to continue using a slant board long term.
Are A Slant Board And A Calf Stretcher The Same Thing?
A calf stretcher is, unsurprisingly, the name given to a range of equipment that is designed to stretch your calves and a slant board is one type of calf stretcher. However, it is among the more basic types and is better suited for people hoping to gently improve mobility, rather than aggressive stretching.
Beyond simply flexing your calf, a regular calf stretcher will bend your toes back and have a curved base, allowing you to rock back and forth. This is perhaps a better option for people wanting to stretch out their calves to the max, especially after performing really heavy leg exercises.
Can You Make Your Own Slant Board?
As a fairly basic piece of kit, many people have actually taken to make their own slant boards, rather than buy one. To make a DIY slant board, all you need is a base material like wood or plastic, fixings like nails or glue, a way to determine and set the proper angle, and the tools to put it all together.
It is vital to make sure both the build and material of your DIY slant board are very sturdy though. If they aren’t, it is very possible they could break under your weight, leading to you hurting or injuring yourself. Before you purchase a material, check what its maximum strength or weigh capacity is.
Should I Use A Slant Board Or See A Doctor?
Slant boards may be able to treat a number of different issues but that doesn’t mean they will be the answer 100 percent of the time. Sometimes, even if they have been recommended by a medical professional, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be the answer.
If you are dealing with something major, have any underlying health concerns, or don’t see any improvements within a few weeks, contact your doctor to check if a slant board is safe for you to use or if there is anything more effective you could be doing.
The calves are often one of the most forgotten parts of the body when working out or, at the very least, are often an afterthought. However, for a complete physique, they are extremely important and a combination of calf raises and a slant board are a fabulous way to help them pop.
Even more important than that though is the fact that our calves may be the most vital part of our body when it comes to our ability to walk. This makes a slant board’s function as a rehabilitation tool incredibly useful for people dealing with injuries who want to take back control of their own life.
Throw in other benefits like better posture and recovery or lower levels of pain, and a slant board is a very simple piece of kit that offers a very wide range of benefits. So, no matter what you hope to achieve, you are almost certain to see some benefits from a slant board when you use one yourself.
Steve is a retired professional wrestler with over 10 years of experience in the personal fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer working with a wide variety of athletes as well as a fitness writer.