Unlike the photo above, slant boards encourage a natural knees-over-the-toes squat movement. Despite the misconception that this is bad for your knees, this type of squat can actually strengthen the musculature around the knee joint.
While a slant board might sound like the distant cousin of a skateboard, it’s not used for extreme sports or grinding down rails at your local park. Rather, a slant board is a helpful tool for improving strength, flexibility, and helping prevent overuse injuries that are common in endurance sports.
If you’ve been training for a while, you’ve likely at least heard of slant boards before. But they’re more than just quick fixes or gimmicky pieces of equipment like many other types of training gear. At a glance, the concept behind slant boards is very simple. A slant board, which is a wider version of a slant wedge, is made from lightweight plastic or durable wood and allows you to position your feet at an angle.
This position activates key muscles that, when strong, help reduce your risk of getting injured, particularly in sports like running and cycling. You can adjust the board to fit your needs and try different degrees of angle to stretch and strengthen different parts of your body.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of a slant board, why you should use one, and a few recommendations if you’re in the market.
Why Should You Use a Slant Board?
If you’ve been on the fence about whether to purchase a slant board, it’s important to consider some of the biggest benefits. It might have a simple design but you can gain a lot out of it by using it regularly, especially on rest days.
The biggest benefit of using the board is the extended flexion in your ankles, Achilles, and hips, enabling you to express a deeper range of motion with certain exercises. For example, a slant board can be a powerful tool for a knee-over-toe squat or KOT squat. This classic exercise has become increasingly trending in helping injury-proof the knee.
Other benefits of slant boards include:
- Build strength around your knee and protect against knee injuries
- Achieve a greater range of motion with squats, lunges, and other exercises
- Build strength and flexibility in your Achilles tendon
- Alleviated stress around your calf muscles
- Boosted circulation in the ankle, knee, and hip joints
Almost anyone can use a slant board, but it’s especially beneficial for athletes who want to improve their flexibility, build targeted strength, and reduce the risk of injuries. Because it’s so easy to use, you can start with a small incline and work your way up as you get more comfortable.
These boards are also often used to treat certain conditions and injuries, including shin splints, muscle strains, and Plantar fasciitis – largely through deep stretching and mobility exercises. If you’re looking into slant boards for the first time because of one of these injuries or ailments, take precautions and ease into certain stretches or rehab exercises.
Finally, slant boards are ideal pieces of equipment for athletes who are frequently on the road. You can incorporate it into your stretching routine on long drives and combine it with other techniques, like staying hydrated and using proper posture, to avoid straining your muscles and injuring yourself away from home.
Whether you’re feeling sore from training, you want to keep yourself safe, or you’re trying to get back into training after an injury, it’s easy to see how beneficial a slant board can be. However, because of their popularity, there are multiple models on the market. While the design might seem simple, some slant boards are better than others. Let’s look at a few recommendations so you can feel confident in your decision to purchase one.
5 Slant Board Recommendations
If you’re in the market for a slant board, then you’ll quickly realize that there are a lot of options to choose from. To help narrow your search, consider these five slant board recommendations below.
1. StrongTek Portable Slant Board
This portable slant board by StrongTek is meant to be used almost anywhere, including under a desk while you’re sitting and working. It’s made of lightweight, but durable plastic, allowing you to take it almost anywhere. The textured design reduced the risk of it sliding on the ground and your foot slipping off as you use it.
While there are certainly more durable slant boards on the market, especially if you’re looking for something heavy-duty, this is a great “starter option,” but it can also be a permanent fixture in your home or under your desk if you don’t plan on dealing with a lot of wear and tear.
2. Lumia Wellness 12” Foam Incline Slant Board
While most slant boards are made from plastic or wood, this Lumia Wellness model is unique in that it’s made of eco-friendly EVA foam. While that makes it incredibly durable and lightweight, it can also improve comfort depending on what you’re using it for. The manufacturer encourages users to try it for yoga and full-body stretching as well as for traditional calf stretches.
Perhaps the only drawback to the foam material is that it can begin to wear out over time, and it may not be as sturdy as boards made from wood. However, if you’re looking to expand your slant board use and try it with different muscle groups, this is a great option.
3. Adjustable Slant Board
The first wooden slant board on our list is constructed of durable, strong Birch plywood. That’s a step up from many other wooden models that are made of pine. This is considered a “professional” model meant for home use, meaning it’s a bit larger than what you might be used to. While its durability allows for transportation if you want to take it on the road, its size might make that slightly difficult. It’s about 15 pounds and might serve you better as a permanent fixture in your home.
Because of its size, weight limit, and strength, this particular board is advertised specifically as a physical therapy item designed to help with plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and more.
4. Slant Board Guy — Slant Board for Squats
Slant boards are multi-purpose pieces of equipment, especially when you have a bit of creativity. This slant board for squats by Slant Board Guy proves that. Not only is it great for traditional stretching uses, but it’s also a fantastic tool for perfecting knee-over-toe squats.
This board features anti-slip tape that allows you to feel secure using it on just about any surface. Its durable interior wood design is made to provide pressure and stability to people of all sizes. Plus, it’s lightweight, so you can take it with you anywhere when you’re training, and make sure you’re maintaining proper squat form.
5. MR1NF1N1TY X Shogun VMO Board
This MR1NF1N1TY X Shogun VMO board is slightly different in that it’s made of high-grade steel and can withstand over 450 pounds of weight. With that in mind, it’s likely not the best board for travel or for taking to the office. However, it’s an incredibly strong and durable home model that’s designed to upgrade and intensify your home stretching exercises.
As a bonus, this board includes an anti-slip mat, a roll of grip tape, and a cleaning cloth, so you can capitalize on its durability by ensuring it stays in place no matter what exercises you use it for. It would be a great addition to any home gym.
Getting the Most Out of a Slant Board
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits to adding a slant board to your fitness gear arsenal. No matter where you are in your training regimen or how quickly you’re trying to recover from an injury, a slant board is a simple and effective way to get you in shape and protect your calf muscles.
Make sure to prepare by talking to your doctor before you start to use a slant board, especially before you incorporate any specific movements into your routine. Scheduling an appointment before you get started will make it easy for you to address any concerns, and you’ll get the best advice possible on how to use your board safely.
Endurance athlete, professional off-road cyclist, and avid blogger, Tyler Tafelsky participates in long-course multisport and cycling events. Today, Tyler competes in ultra-distance cycling races at the professional level. Since starting Better Triathlete in 2014, he has been the head of content for the site's editorial team. Learn more about Tyler