Every few years we see new tools come to the mainstream. Recently, we’ve been seeing a lot of these tools where people are essentially just squatting on an inclined surface. This is great, in many ways. We’re getting people doing the simple, foundational squat in a position that is more accessible. The problem is if we are only squatting with this tool or we are not progressing toward the feet being on the ground. Slant boards are a tool, and our goal is to be able to move freely and with confidence in any position. This includes squatting on an incline. It also includes squatting on the ground. Essentially, we need to remember our long-term goals and understand how to use a slant board properly.
How To Use a Slant Board Properly
Squatting on a slant board vs. squatting on the ground changes essentially just one thing: your foot position. It removes that dorsiflexion element, allowing you to squat with your torso more upright and with a less pronounced relationship from the foot to the knee.
If you have acute or chronic restrictions, this is where a tool like this is useful. We remove dorsiflexion which improves accessibility to the bottom of the squat. This is why so many lifters like a shoe with a big heel wedge. We remove the necessity for dorsiflexion at the end ranges which allows easier access to the bottom of the squat.
In essence, if you have issues with your ankle mobility, that will block you from reaching a full squat.
The slant board is a great workaround for accessing the end ranges of your knee and hip by bypassing your ankle mobility.
Why People Love Olympic Lifting Shoes
One of the reasons shoes with a heel wedge have been so popular in the Olympic lifting community has to do with torque and stability at the hip. Keeping the feet on the ground, weight supported in the arches places rotational demand on the hip. Add in the need to keep the torso upright, and you amplify this effect, so under load, you need to shove the knees out more (create higher stability between femur and hip) as you endeavor to elevate the torso.
Placing a heel wedge under your foot in the form of an Olympic lifting shoe reduces your need for skill and range of motion in the bottom position. The problem is, we’re looking for movement competency, coordination, and movement transfer.
When Using A Slantboard Becomes Problematic
God only knows how often people have said “only squat with your heels on the ground.” God only knows how many times that has been attributed to me specifically. Let’s clear the air. I want you to be able to squat in any position you need to, but with heels on the ground as your ultimate archetype.
Using a Slantboard Becomes Problematic when it becomes the only squatting you are doing. How much time are you spending in a squat daily? As it happens, this very question is the first video we ever made. How much time are you spending in a squat? A Slantboard should not be the only time you’re addressing this fundamental position.
Remember that practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent. Squatting on a Slantboard or on your toes (same position by the way) may work in this controlled environment, but when you have to squat or land in a heels-on-ground position out in the wild, you might run into some complications.
If you’re using one of these Slantboards, I want you to do so with the progressive goal of squatting with your heels on the ground. Reduce the angle of the board as much as you are able over time, and use our routines in The Ready State Virtual Mobility Coach to work on opening up your ankle mobility to get your feet on the ground. We have some great tools for helping you reach that ass-to-grass squat you’re looking for, such as the 14 day squat challenge and the 10 minute squat test.
So to wrap it up, Slantboards and Olympic lifting shoes are tools. They bypass ankle mobility range of motion requirements to allow easier access to the bottom of the squat. This is a useful tool for progression, but should not be the only position you are squatting in. Practice makes permanent and our goal for you is movement competency in the wild, not just in the gym.