In the current day and age, we are constantly looking to the height of modern tech to optimise our lives. Whether for work, social, of health purposes, the feeling is that the newest, most complicated pieces of equipment are so highly refined that they are sure to provide the best results possible.
However, sometimes you will find that the most basic, tried and true options can actually be the most beneficial, and this seems to be increasingly true in the world of fitness. One such piece of kit that seems to fit this description to a t is the slant board.
A very basic looking piece of kit, many will completely write it off as not being worth their time or attention, due to its extremely simple design. However, in reality, it is actually an item that can offer them a great number of benefits if they were only willing to take the time to learn more about it.
That is why, in today’s article, we want to help you get to know the slant board a little better. We are going to take a closer look at the top slant board exercises and benefits, to help you understand both how to use it and the benefits it has to offer for your health and training.
What Is A Slant Board Good For?
A slant board is a piece of fitness equipment which features a flat, angled surface, usually made from durable wood or a lightweight plastic. It is designed to be used to help keep both your muscles and tendons in optimum shape.
A very user friendly piece of kit, to train on a slant board, you simply have to stand on it in a slanted position. The idea behind it is that it will help you to improve both the performance and control of your muscles during exercise, while also cutting down on the number of injuries you sustain.
Benefits Of Slant Board Exercises
Despite being extremely basic in both its design and use, there are a number of benefits associated with the use of a slant board. While the complete list of options is vast, we will now take a closer look at some of the top, most commonly utilised benefits of slant board exercises.
The primary intention of a slant board is to improve a user’s balance. This can be worked on simply by standing on the slant in different positions while trying to remain stable. However, there are ways to take balance training on a slant board even further.
The best way to do this is to perform stretches on it. As a slant board forces you to maintain the correct posture during a stretch, it ensures the muscles and connective tissues are receiving adequate strain and tension throughout their full range of motion.
Regardless of how you go about using a slant board to improve your balance, it will assist in the strengthening of the muscles, particularly around the hip joint. This will notably improve your balance control, making you more stable and reducing the risk of you falling and injuring yourself.
Stretching the muscles through their full range of motion is well known to reduce inflammation and limit pain by encouraging blood circulation. This is particularly true after a workout, as the muscles will be at their most vulnerable but will also be warm and in the safest state to stretch to their max.
A slant board is frequently used as a treatment for the inflammation of some of the muscles in the feet and legs, as the deeper, more effective stretches it allows you to perform maximise the effects of these positions.
It is especially effective for things like Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, and other similar conditions. It can also be useful to help with the inflammation caused by certain types of arthritis, as strengthening the surrounding areas will take much of the strain off of the affected joint.
Good For Rehab
Slant boards are more and more regularly being linked with improved walking ability and are being incorporated in rehab and physical therapy routines as a result. This is due to a combination of factors, including the improved balance and reduced inflammation we have already looked at.
Then there is the fact that it forces your centre of gravity to shift forward. The simple act of standing requires a variety of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in our legs, feet, and hips to work in unison. If a person becomes weak, it can put unnecessary strain on these areas and lead to a range of injuries.
By moving your centre of gravity, it will help to strengthen many of the stabilising muscles and connective tissues, while also improving your posture. This ensures that an injury doesn’t put too much strain on the areas around it, allowing them to stay strong while it heals.
Prevents Aches & Paints Associated With Exercise
Perhaps the simplest and most common reason people train on a slant board is because it can be a useful tool during a warm-up or cool-down before or after a workout.
Stretches are well known to help prevent the aches and pains that often occur after performing exercises, as they work as kind of a massage for the fibres, while also helping to reduce and remove the build-up of lactic acid.
By performing your regular pre or post workout stretching routine on a slant board, you will amplify the benefits you achieve. This makes it an extremely good way to optimise your results, minimise your pain, and get maximum bang for your buck, without having to dedicate any extra time.
The Best Examples Of Slant Board Exercises
So, you should at this point have a good idea of what sort of benefits you can achieve by using a slant board. With that in mind, we will now move on to looking at some of the best examples of slant board exercises, to ensure you know how to reap these rewards in your own training.
All of these stretches can also be performed as either static stretches or as dynamic stretches, which involves gently easing yourself in and out of the stretch, going slightly deeper each time. Dynamic stretching is the best option before a workout, as it poses less risk of injury to the cold muscles.
The most common stretch performed on a slant board is the calf stretch. To perform this exercise, you begin by standing on the slant board with either one or two feet, with your toes pointing up the slope and the support in front of you to hold onto in case you overbalance.
Gradually start to lean forward, making sure to keep your leg or legs straight, until you feel the increased tension in your calf reach the point just before it would turn into pain. Use the support to help you maintain your balance and hold the position for the predetermined amount of time.
If you are performing the single leg variety, make sure to alternate and do the stretch for the same amount of time on the other leg when you are done.
An Achilles stretch begins in much the same way as the two foot calf stretch, by putting both feet on the board and slowly starting to lean forward. However, once you have bent forward a little bit, stop and bend at the knees instead, which will cause you to feel a stretch in your heel / Achilles tendon.
Hold the stretch for at least 30 secs then slowly ease out of it. This can again be done with both 1 and 2 legs at a time, although it is recommended you stick to the two foot option due to the delicate nature of the stretch. If you do choose the single leg option though, make sure to do both legs.
Stand with both feet firmly on the board with your legs straight and toes pointing upwards, then slowly bend forwards towards your feet. Go as deep as you can while keeping your legs straight, with the aim being to touch your toes if possible.
Hold the position for a minimum of 30 seconds, although try and go for at least a minute, if possible, then slowly ease back up to a vertical position.
Plantar Fascia Stretch
The easiest of all slant board stretches, to do a plantar fascia stretch, you simply stand on the board at any angle and hold your balance for as long as you can. To completely stretch out all the muscles in the area, you can try doing sets of this with your feet pointing both up and down the slant.
The higher the incline you choose to use, the harder the exercise will be, and the same goes for the duration of the stretch as well.
To do eccentric squats, stand in an upright position with both feet on the board, hip width apart, and your toes pointing down the board. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend your knees to lower yourself into the squat position, then hold then stretch when you have gone as deep as you can go.
If you are wanting to progress the stretch even further, you can try doing single leg squats or holding onto something to allow you to go deeper than you could on your own.
Side Lunge Squats
To perform side lunge squats, begin by standing side on to the slant board with your feet shoulder width apart and then put one foot on the slant board sideways, keeping both legs straight. Slowly bend your knee on the leg on the board, while keeping the other leg straight, leaning you towards it.
Keep going until you feel a deep stretch in the back of your straight leg and hold here for the predetermined length of time. Slowly return to the starting position and then repeat the process with the other leg, making sure to match it in terms of both the depth and length of the stretch.
Frequently Asked Questions About Slant Board Exercises (FAQS)
Before we end our analysis of the top slant board exercises and benefits, I want to cover some of the most frequently asked questions about slant board exercises. This should ensure everyone has all the info they need to know how to use a slant board and decide if it is the right piece of kit for them.
Are Slant Boards Effective?
Slant boards have been shown to be very effective for offering deeper muscle responsiveness and activation than seen in normal stretches. Slant boards have also been proven to be more beneficial for things like rehabilitation and improving your balance and stability than most other bits of kit.
What Angle Should A Slant Board Be?
Most slant boards are made with a slant of around 20 to 25 degrees. This should be sufficient to offer the full range of slant board benefits and anything higher than that can start to cause users to have difficulty staying on it while completing exercises like squats.
That said, rather than focusing solely on the angle of the board, you should try to think primarily about what you are hoping to achieve. This can allow you to alter your foot placement to try and create the exact movement and range of motion required to hit your targets.
What Does A Slant Board Do For Squats?
By doing your squats on a slant board, it isolates and activates the VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscles in the quadriceps throughout their full range of motion.
As the VMO muscles are set right above your kneecap, making sure they are sufficiently stretched and strengthened can help to prevent knee injuries. The VMO muscles work to move the knee joint and stabilize your kneecap, so developing them will make the region much more durable.
How Long Should You Stand On A Slant Board?
While the duration of each session you perform on a slant board can vary based on the exercises you are performing and the goals you are trying to achieve, it is recommended that you usually stand on the board for around 4 to 5 minutes. This can then be extended up to 10 minutes if you require.
This should be plenty so that when you first come off of the slant board, you will be amazed at the extent to which your upper chest and shoulders will now lift back and up into the proper position.
A slant board is a basic yet very effective bit of fitness kit that can be used to boost the effectiveness of your stretching routines with virtually no extra effort and little cost. It can help you to train better in sessions, recover quicker after, and even rehab from injuries faster or prevent them altogether.
For those who want to take the benefits of stretching even further, you also have options like dedicated leg stretching and glute exercising machines. These will continue to strengthen and mobilise the muscles in your legs, boosting the benefits even more.
It can even be paired with a home leg press machine, to help you boost the health and performance of your core and lower body, without even having to leave the house.