It’s kind of ridiculous just how useful an angled piece of wood can be…
Of all the different types of training equipment you could spend your money on, I can’t think of many that give more outsized returns than a good slant board.
Whether you’re using it to develop flexibility and mobility in your lower legs or to rehab an injury, the benefits of regular slant board use are immeasurable.
They’re even becoming popular with elite athletes as a strength development tool!
Today we’re going to cover the 5 major benefits of using a slant board and by the end of this article you should be chomping at the bit to get your hands on one!
1. Slant Boards Are The Most Effective Way To Stretch Your Calves & Achilles
Put simply, there’s no better or easier way to stretch your lower legs than with a slant board.
All you have to do is stand on it and you’re automatically getting a deep stretch right up the backs of your legs.
Stretching your calves and Achilles without an incline is particularly difficult and takes a focused effort just to get a fairly weak stretch.
Using the slant board is much easier and is a great option for those who already have very flexible lower legs and ankles.
It’s one of the few ways for these people to get the stimulus needed to see results.
Why Is Stretching Your Calves So Important?
So what does stretching out like this actually do for you?
Aside from injury rehab, which we’ll get to shortly, improving your lower leg flexibility is great for,
- Preventing and lowering inflammation
- Blood circulation
- Reducing delayed onset muscle soreness
- Injury prevention
If you do a lot of walking or running, daily slant board use is also one of the best ways to reduce pain and aid in recovery.
2. Slant Boards Promote A More Natural Squat Position
Most people struggle when it comes to performing squats.
Simply getting parallel to the ground is a challenge, let alone completing a full ‘ass to grass’ squat.
Poor Ankle Mobility Makes Squatting Really Difficult
A lot of this has to do with the fact that we wear shoes with an elevated heel all day long.
This causes awful ankle mobility which is part of the reason why feeling strong throughout the squat range of motion is rare.
As athletes we’re taught that to squat safely we require the following,
- Heels firmly on the ground
- Completely neutral spine with no butt wink
Why does this seem so unobtainably difficult for so many athletes? It doesn’t seem like too crazy of a crazy request?
Even if we could get into that position, it feels like adding any serious amount of weight would not be safe and would eventually cause discomfort…
What Does A Natural Squat Even Look Like?
The reality is that this highly sought after ‘textbook squat form’ is not a natural or desirable position for us to get into at all…
The first example below is what this so called ‘perfect squat’ looks like.
The bottom 2 positions are actually anatomically very natural squat positions that humans have been observed using since the dawn of time!
But there is no evidence that suggests the first position is or ever was a healthy position for us to be in.
Why The Natural Squat Position Isn’t Perfect
But there’s 2 major problems with the second and third position as well.
In the second position, you’ll notice the back is very rounded.
While it may be perfectly fine and even quite comfortable to sit in this position, it’s simply not a safe option for performing reps in, especially not when external load is involved.
The third position is better in a sense because the spine is straight, which means we could add some load.
But it’s also problematic because of how difficult it is to balance up on our toes like that.
The Achilles tendon would also not be able to support much extra load.
Slant Boards Artificially Create The Ideal Squat Position
The solution? Artificially recreate that third position by elevating the heels with a solid platform (slant board) for stability.
You’ve got plenty of balance, a neutral spine, and can now safely load up with weight while in this position.
3. Slant Boards Engage The Quads A Lot More
If you’re looking to give your quads a little extra attention, the slant board is one of the best ways to transform your squat workout into a full blown assault on your thighs.
By using a slant board, we’re able to get into a full range of motion, ass to grass squat with an almost completely vertical torso.
Since we’re so upright throughout the movement, there’s virtually no hip flexion/extension which means our knee extensors (quadriceps) are in overdrive.
Be sure to check out this article for more information on exactly how to squat using a slant board.
4. Slant Boards Are Excellent For Injury Rehab
Whether you’ve got patella tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or really any sort of itis, the slant board is going to supercharge your recovery.
I’ve personally had plantar fasciitis as well as patella tendonitis and understand first hand exactly how annoying these conditions can be.
Usually the first thing a physio will prescribe for any of these ailments is a heavy regiment of strengthening and lengthening the surrounding muscles and tendons.
That means stretching your calves as well as your Achilles tendon multiple times per day.
We already know the slant board is, by a huge margin, the easiest way to stretch these muscles and tendons.
You’ll probably also be prescribed some strengthening work like calf raises and step downs to develop the muscles surrounding your knee.
I’ve put together a full list of slant board exercises you can expect your physio to recommend if you’ve got any injuries similar to the ones I’ve mentioned.
Of course, I am not a physio, and you should consult an actual physical therapist before doing any of these movements!
5. Slant Boards Develop Ankle Mobility Better Than Anything Else
If you’re a human being who wears shoes, chances are you have pretty poor ankle mobility.
Wear Shoes? You Probably Have Awful Ankle Mobility
The way modern day shoes are designed causes the heel to be slightly elevated.
This leads to a small amount of constant plantarflexion every time we walk.
This means modern humans walk with significantly less range of motion at the ankle joint.
The extreme example is high heels where there’s virtually no ankle dorsiflexion required to get from A to B.
A small amount of mercury in your blood won’t exactly kill you, but a small amount of mercury in your blood every day over a period of years is a death sentence!
In the same way, reduced range of motion from wearing shoes everyday is virtually a death sentence for your ankle mobility.
Primitive humans that walk around barefoot all day probably have the best ankle mobility of all of us…
They can also sit in a full squat seemingly for hours with no discomfort!
A Slant Board Will Improve Ankle Mobility Quickly
By doing regular calf, Achilles, and hamstring stretches for extended periods of time (more than 90 second holds), you can very quickly gain back the ankle mobility you’ve lost over years of neglect.
We’re talking massive, noticeable improvements in under a week.
I have plenty of slant board exercises for ankle mobility that’ll will get you on the right track.
A Tib Bar Is Another Great Tool For Ankle Mobility
One other way to rapidly increase ankle mobility is to use a tib bar.
This is the most effective way to stretch and strengthen the only lower leg muscle the slant board can’t: the tibialis anterior.
When stretching and strengthening your calves, it’s important not to neglect the opposing muscle group which is the tibialis muscles on the front of the shin.
Okay, I’m Sold. Which Slant Board Do I Get?
There’s a huge range of different slant boards which cater to all sorts of different needs.
I’ve taken the liberty of doing a detailed write up on which slant boards are actually worth the money, which I highly suggest checking out below before buying one.