A SLANTING SOLUTION! The timeless slant board.
Sometimes the gravest problems can be solved by the simplest solutions!
Though the saying may not mean much to us on a general day to day basis, it certainly is applicable to the Slant board. Surprised? The Slant board is a simple and yet ingenuous device which helps allay a variety of different conditions. It also helps in maintaining the overall fitness of our muscles and tendons. Before we go into the details of how the Slant board is helpful, it would be wise to understand what the Slant board really is.
Fitaboo Slant Board | Benefits
The slant board is a flat board that is usually made of a strong wood like birch wood. As the name suggests the peculiarity of this board is that this board is used when it is in a slanting position. The incline that the board can be set up at can be adjusted as per your requirements and the requirements of the exercise.
Most boards have three adjustable levels. These levels can be determined based on the angle that they make with the ground. Many slant boards on the market have 3 angle adjustments, our Fitaboo slant board has 4, which you can see below:
- 12 degrees
- 22 degrees
- 33 degrees
- 33 degrees
Another standard feature that you will notice in the Slant board is the presence of firm non slip top and bottom surfaces. This aids in adding a feature of safety to the product.
The design of the Slant board is extremely simple. A strong flat board is hinged on another flat board. It’s design is similar to that of a laptop. It flips open and can be secured at the desired level. This makes the slant board extremely portable, light and easy to use. It’s simplicity in design also means that there is very little that can go wrong. Hence it means less maintenance.
THE SLANT BOARD AND OUR BODY
The slant board was developed to treat plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis and even hip pain. If you know a little bit about medical terminology you will know that the suffix ‘itis’ means ‘inflammation’. Inflammation is synonymous with pain.
A brief glance at all the above conditions will also tell you that we are dealing with pain related to different parts of the legs. The names of all the conditions are big and it would be great if there was a simple way of understanding them. For that let us take a small peak at the way our legs function and the muscles and ligaments that aid in the process.
The Human Legs
A number of different muscles, tendons and bones together contribute to form our legs as we know them. Going into the depths of understanding how each one works is both complex as well as confusing. That is the reason why we will stick to a few main points which will help you understand how the Slant board helps and the importance it plays in maintaining the health of our legs.
The Achilles tendon
This is possibly one of the most well known tendons in the entire human body. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel. Like all tendons, the Achilles tendon is made up of a band of tough fibrous tissue.
The two calf muscles (the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus muscle) unite to form a single band of tissue. This tissue forms the Achilles tendon.
Some interesting facts about the Achilles tendon are:
- It is the strongest tendon in the body.
- It has small sacs of fluid called ‘Bursae’ that act like a cushion at the heel.
- The Achilles tendon pulls on the heel every time our calf muscle flexes. This helps us to run, jump and even stand on our toes.
- It is important to note that even though this is the strongest tendon in the body, it is also the tendon which is most prone to injury!
All this information gives you a good understanding as to why the Achilles tendon is very important in our daily activities.
The Patellar Ligament
The Patellar ligament is also known as the Patellar tendon. It extends down from the quadriceps muscle to the patella and then to the tibia. A simpler explanation of this would be that the Patellar ligament connects the thigh muscle to the knee cap and then joins it to the shin bone.
Why is this ligament so important?
- It connects the knee cap and keeps it in position.
- It assists in bending the leg.
- It also helps us stand. People with damaged Patellar ligaments are more than likely to find it difficult to stand and walk as the knee tends to buckle under them.
ACHILLES TENDONITIS AND PATELLAR TENDONITIS
The cause of both these conditions can be drawn down to one important feature that is very common in people suffering from them. It is the repetitive impact that is associated with a person who is running. Imagine this… Every time a person places their foot on the ground they exert a certain amount of pressure on their feet. This pressure is amplified when a person is running. The speed and force that is exerted on the feet during each impact increases. This means that the impact is transferred up the leg till the hip. The result of this repeated impact is seen on the muscles and on the tendons. It causes the muscles and the tendons to become both tight and sore.
Some people may consider a tight muscle a strong muscle. This is true but it is true only for a short period of time. The tightness represents artificial strength. What do we mean by artificial strength? A tight muscle helps in rein movement. This means that a tight muscle could very well be a weak muscle that happens to be posing as a strong muscle. Hence one can say that tightness can be very deceptive. Why? Simply because a weak muscle cannot function in the same way a strong muscle does. It will get fatigued (or tired) easily. This is the same with people. A strong person may be able to perform a certain amount of activity with ease but a weaker person may not. This is directly proportional to the strength of the person’s muscles.
So what does the Slant board have to do with these two important ligaments? Apparently a lot! Let’s take a look at the relationship they share.
THE SLANT BOARD AND IT’S APPLICATION IN PATELLAR TENDONITIS AND ACHILLES TENDONITIS
The Slant board has been invented to provide relief for both Patellar tendonitis and Achilles tendonitis. Not only does it help in curing the two conditions but it also can be used as a prophylactic measure. The way to help those aching muscles is to use the bigger and stronger muscles to take away some of the stress that falls on the Patellar tendon and the Achilles tendon. This is exactly what the Slant board aims at doing.
If you take a trip back in time, you will realize that before the advent of the slant board, the traditional method of curing Patellar tendonitis and Achilles tendonitis was the use of involved stretching. This stretching involved the hamstring, concentric and eccentric strengthening of both the quads and glutes. It also involved the stretching of the quadriceps.
The Slant board has many applications. Not only does it help in the treatment of Patellar tendonitis and Achilles tendonitis, you will find that the Slant board is used in the treatment of other conditions that revolve around sports injuries to the legs. In addition to this, the Slant board also helps in preventive medicine. Using the Slant board as a prophylactic measure helps ensure that you do not suffer from any such injuries.
Let us take a look at the variety of exercises that can be performed using the Slant board.
THE SLANT BOARD AND EXERCISE
As stated before, the Slant board is used for a variety of stretching exercises. Each exercise focuses on a particular part of the anatomy of the leg. Some exercises are meant to muscle specific while others are very clearly ligament/tendon specific. The ultimate goal of all each exercises is to strengthen each and every muscle and ligament/tendon of the leg.
Let’s take a look at the common exercises that are carried out on the Slant board.
- The Hamstring Stretch
- The Hip And Calf Stretch
- The Plantar Facia Stretch
- The Achilles/ Soleus Stretch
- Eccentric Squats
Seems like an extensive list off exercises doesn’t it? You can be guaranteed that the actual list is much longer than this. These exercises are just the common and most widely used exercises around the world. The names itself indicate which part of the legs, the exercise targets. Let’s dig a little further to understand how these exercises really work!
The Hamstring Stretch
Like the name suggests, this exercise is used to stretch the hamstring muscles. The trick to doing the exercise well is to set the slant board on the second or middle position. For those of you who are used to calling it levels, this will be set at the second level. This means that the incline will not be too small nor will it be too large.
The first thing you need to do is step on the Slant board. Make sure that your feet are placed firmly against the back of the base plate. This ensures that you do not slip. The next step is to tip forward slowly and touch your toes. You will start to feel a stretch all the way through the back of your calf and up your hamstring muscle.
You need to hold this position for approximately thirty seconds to a minute. The duration of time depends totally on how tight your muscles are. If you feel that you are really tight, then you can even extend this stretch for two whole minutes!
The Calf Stretch
Truth be told, there are a variety of calf stretch exercises out there. Many use the Slant board as an accessory for the calf stretch exercises. How? Let’s take a look at one of the calf stretch exercises. This is an exercise that is used as an alternative to the wall stretch.
The slant board stretch has a one up against the wall stretch. This is simply because to master the wall stretch perfectly is very difficult. The slant board stretch also supports the bottom of the foot. It also keeps the hip in a neutral position. This means that there is no need for the hip to flex or in common terminology ‘the hip does not bend’! There is also no strain on the knee either. How does this help? There is nerve called the Sciatic nerve that runs through the leg. This process ensures that the there is no overstretching of the Sciatic nerve that takes place.
So how do we do this stretch? First you need a Slant board and you need a support. The support is to help you balance during the entire exercise. Place your legs firmly on the Slant board while facing the support and hold on to the support. The exercise is really simple. Ensure that the pinky toe points forward (i.e. up the slope). You can lean back a little so that the hip remains in the neutral position. Now all that you need to do is squeeze your glutes. Simple right?
It is! In addition to that, it is also extremely effective!
Plantar Fascia Stretch
For those of you who don’t know what the Plantar fascia is, let me explain. The Plantar fascia is a flat band of tissue which forms a ligament. This ligament connects the heel bone to the toes. As you can see, this ligament does a very important job and helps in providing stability to the leg. The Plantar fascia supports the entire base of the foot.
Now that you know what Plantar fascia is, it is important to understand what Plantar fasciitis is. As we have learnt before, ‘it is’ means pain or inflammation. Hence it is easy to understand that Plantar fasciitis is linked very closely with heel pain. If this particular ligament gets injured, you will start having manifestations of foot pain which commonly occurs when you stand for long or when you walk.
The treatment for Plantar fasciitis is very simple when we use a Slant board to solve the problem. All that we have to do is to set the level of the Slant board and stand on it for an extended period of time. The Slant that the board offers helps to strengthen the Plantar fascia by just standing on it. This is in fact one of the easiest exercises that can be done using a Slant board. Though you need to bear in mind that the very action of standing can cause pain in people with Plantar fasciitis. Therefore it is important to ensure that you do not overdo it!
The Achilles Stretch
We have already delved into the location and function of the Achilles tendon. It is high time that we realize how the Achilles stretch can help relieve Achilles tendonitis.
This stretch is carried out with the board in the second level position. This means that the incline won’t be too steep. At the same time the incline will remain challenging. Place your right foot on the board. Make sure that your foot is well secured and is touching the back of the Slant board. Now the next part is simple. Gradually lean forward such that you bend your right knee. Keep pushing yourself into the stretch. This is when you will begin to feel the stretch near your heel. Hold this position for around thirty seconds to a minute.
Once you are done with the stretch on one leg, you can the change over and repeat the exercise with the other leg.
The Achilles stretch is another relatively easy exercise which can provide a lot of relief to those who suffer from Achilles tendonitis.
The Soleus Stretch
The Soleus muscle is a very powerful muscle. It extends from the knee to the heel. Even though this muscle is inherently strong, it is predisposed to injury. That is why learning the Soleus stretch is very important.
Like all Slant board stretches, the Soleus stretch is very easy. All you need is a Slant Board and something that can act as a support. Place your legs on the Slant board. Ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the non-slip surface. Get a good grip on the support with both your hands. Now bend your knees slightly and lean forward. Do this till you feel a stretch. Hold it for a few seconds and then relax.
The Soleus stretch is a simple stretch which is good as both a prophylactic measure as well as a treatment of pain.
This particular exercise is directed at the Patellar tendon. If you recollect what we had said about the Patellar tendon, you will remember that it is responsible for providing the knee with support. It also helps us stand upright. The Eccentric squats help combat the pain of Patellar tendonitis.
The idea behind it is irrefutable. To combat the pain you need to have a stronger tendon. The Eccentric squats help in this department.
This type of exercise can be divided on the basis of whether you have Patellar tendonitis in one knee or both the knees. Let us look at the first variation. If you have Patellar tendonitis in one knee, then this is what you have to follow.
First off, step on the board with your feet parallel and pointed forward. Unlike the previous exercises, your direction is facing the downward slope of the Slant board. The next step is to sit back. It is similar to reaching for a chair behind you (Please note: the hair does not exist!).
You need to ensure that you place the weight on your injured leg. Also ensure that you get up very slowly. Take around three to five seconds on your way down. Once you reach the sitting position, shift most of your weight off the injured knee. Reverse the entire procedure and get back up. Get up by using your good knee to support the weight of your body.
Now let us look at how to do this exercise if you have Patellar tendonitis in both legs. For this exercise, you will need something to support you so that you can get up again. The easiest way to do this is by using chairs or other pieces of furniture. Place them on either side of you so that they act as supports. Now distribute your weight evenly on both legs. Use the chairs for support and sit down in the same motion you would use to sit in a chair. Take a few seconds to sit and then stand up using the chairs as supports to stand again.
During this exercise, ensure that you maintain two very important rules.
- Be patient
This is especially important if you have really bad knee pain. Remember that the progress is slow. You need to be patient with your body. Lack of patience could cause more harm than it could do good. Gradually increase the repetitions from week to week and don’t start with an absurd number in the beginning. Your tendon is weak. A gradual increase in the repetitions will help strengthen it!
- Know the limitations
When we say know the limitations, we mean the limitations of eccentric squats and your own limitations. The exercise can help strengthen your patellar tendon but you need to get down to the grass root level and find out what is causing the injury. If you don’t find and treat the cause, you will find that no matter how much you try to help your patellar tendon, you won’t make much headway!
These exercises leave no doubt that the Slant board is an extremely useful device. Bear in mind that the exercises and stretches that are stated above are just a few of the many uses that the Slant board offers. The Slant board has found its way into many homes and it is obvious why. In addition to this, you will notice that it is also used in many gyms, clinics and physiotherapy units. As the understanding about the Slant board increases, it’s use also keeps increasing. In fact, the Slant board has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years.
Do we have a piece of advice for you? Yes. If you choose to use a Slant board to exercise on, ensure that you maintain a proper posture. Posture is very important in all exercises. It helps you get the most out of your workout and also helps prevent injury.
Not only is it very important to choose your exercises wisely but it is also important to do your research carefully. Enjoy the process! Happy exercising!