‘Oh, my aching knees!’
That complaint is becoming increasingly common as pain in the knees comes close to lower back pain as the leading source of everyday discomfort. The knee is a complex joint that has the task of supporting your body weight from the moment you’re born. It’s the largest joint in your body and the one that is most vulnerable to mishap.
The good news is that there are things you can do to minimize your chances of suffering from knee pain. And, if you’ve already got it, there are things you can do to significantly reduce it. All of those things are tied up in one word …
How Exercises Reduces Knee Pain
Weak muscles contribute to knee pain. So, it makes a lot of sense to strengthen the lower body muscles – the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and tibialis – in order to strengthen the knee joint.
Balance and stability training will also help by enabling the muscles around the knee to work together more effectively. The combination of muscle strength and flexibility is the one-two punch that will give you bullet-proof knees.
Of all the leg muscles, it is the quadriceps that most affect the knees. The quadriceps, as the name indicates, is made up of four muscle heads, each of which inserts just below the knee on the upper tibia, or lower leg bone. Of the four quad muscles, it is the vastus medialis (VMO), or teardrop muscle, on the inside of the thigh, that is the most important to strengthen and support the knee.
How the Slant Board Helps
When you do exercises on a slant board, your heels are raised a few inches off the ground. This raised heel position puts you in a more biomechanically ideal position as it keeps the torso more upright. It also helps to keep your spine in a more neutral position to prevent the rounded back problem that plagues many people when they squat.
The ideal natural squat position is with a raised heel. So, the slant board puts you in that superior ergonomic position. Exercising on the slant board also allows your knees to track over your toes, which preferentially works the vastus medialis head of the quadriceps.
The slant board allows you to achieve a full, deep squat to maximally engage the quads. And because of the ideal ergonomics, you can go full as to the grass with a completely upright torso.This excludes hip flexion and extension, making the quads do 100 percent of the work.
The slant board also makes the ideal platform to do a range of isolation strengthening and stretching exercises for the quads, calves, tibialis, and hamstrings. I’ve been training my legs for 40 years, and I can say without a doubt that the slant board gives me the best calf, tibialis, and Achilles stretch that I ever had.
When it comes to the tibialis, at the front of the shin, tibialis stretches on the slant board are the only exercise I have ever come across to effectively work the muscle. Strengthening your tibialis will make you far more agile, helping to avoid the falls and skills that can lead to knee injury.
If you are undergoing injury rehab, the slant board is a great recovery aid. If you suffer from any of the ‘itis’ conditions, like plantar fasciitis, or patellar tendonitis, your physio will advise that you begin a program of strengthening and stretching. As we’ve just seen, the slant board is the ideal tool for both of those outcomes.
If you are in a rehab situation, I recommend consulting your physio about any exercises and stretches you plan to do with the slant board.
The Best Slant Board Exercises to Help with Knee Pain
There are many exercises and stretches that can be done on the slant board. Here are the five that are, in my experience, the most effective to help with knee pain.
- Slant Board Squat
- Slant Board Patrick Step
- Slant Board Step Down
- Slant Board Calf Stretch
- Slant Board Tibialis Stretch
Combine the five exercises above into a 15-minute knee strengthening workout. Do three sets of each with reps ranging between 12 and 15. Do this workout twice per week for the best long-term results.