Your knees are a key joint that play a role in everyday activities like walking, sitting, navigating steps and, in the fitness realm, training. And if you've ever found yourself being coached in a squat or other leg-centric exercise, you've probably been critiqued to never let your knees fall over your toes. Is that the best practice, though?
Think about it. When you get up from a chair, your knees fall over your toes. When you travel a flight of stairs, don't your knees travel past your toes to go up or down? Then why, when you have a large load on your back, are you instructed not to follow this natural body plane?
Taking aim at this dated training misconception, Knees Over Toes movements and exercises have become the latest fitness craze for healthier knees, calves and other muscle groups. Made popular by Ben Patrick, the "Knees Over Toes Guy," these modalities are designed to get your knees and lower body adapted to this position, strengthening the muscles over time in a natural stance for improved walking, running, squatting, jumping and more.
If you're interested in improving your knee health with Knees Over Toes training, there are a few fitness accessories that can help you get the most out of your sessions, with slant boards being the simplest and easiest to include. These wedge-shaped platforms can be great for raising the heel for a wide variety of stretches and exercises. But which slant board is best for training? Here are our picks for the best slant boards available right now.
What is a Slant Board?
Resembling a large wedge, slant boards are platforms that allow you to elevate your heel at an angle to target your knees and calves when stretching. Typically made from wood, foam or metal, these fitness accessories are lightweight and are often adjustable, so you can choose which angle fits your needs and strengths best. A similar notion is employed in weightlifting shoes, which feature an elevated heel for a better stance during squats or Olympic lifts. Think of a slant board as an overexaggerated heel lift.
Slant boards also often feature a grippy surface for improved traction and can come in either full or split designs. Split slant boards come in pairs of two, making them excellent for single-leg stretches or if you have a stance that full boards can't accommodate comfortably.
The Benefits of Slant Boards
Outside of training your knees, slant boards can be utilized to help strengthen your calves and other lower body areas like the Achilles tendon. Using a slant board regularly can help keep these muscles and tendons stretched for maximum performance and injury prevention. After all, we experience injuries when a load is placed on a weak portion of our kinetic chain. Keeping your lower body used to these stretches and angles can create a stronger base, allowing for increased output when you do decide to go all-in for a sprint, lift or jump.
Another great benefit to using a slant board is that the stretches available can be a great way to target your vastus medialis oblique, or VMO. This muscle is important in keeping your kneecap tracking but can be difficult to activate in other exercises. Training with a slant board can help improve the VMO's stabilizing abilities, keeping your knees functioning properly and pain-free.
With its simple profile and ample versatility, slant boards can be used anywhere from the gym, to on the couch and even as you work from your desk. Here are six boards worth considering if you're wanting to boost your knee and joint health.
- Center support system, great for weighted movements
- Platform is fully cloaked in anti-slip tape
- Cannot adjust the incline angle
- Premium pricing
A favorite of Patrick’s, the slant board from Slant Board Guy features a sturdy wood construction with an added center support system that’s great for weight stretches or movements. Anti-slip tape covers the entire platform for superior grip, and the lightweight 6.1-pound frame makes traveling with your slant board a breeze.
While the angle is non-adjustable, 30 degrees of incline can provide plenty of calf-stretching, knee-strengthening opportunity. This is also the most expensive slant board on our list, but if you’re serious about Knees Over Toes training, the investment is well worth it.
Angle: 30 degrees
Weight Capacity: 880 pounds
- Durable wooden construction
- Anti-slip tape in key contact areas
- Cannot adjust the angle
- Thicker platform board can be uncomfortable if not stepping fully on the board
Bulletproof your knees with this quality slant board targeting your range of motion and lower body flexibility. Featuring three full-platform strips of grip tape for a secure underfoot feel, the Tib Factory Slant Board allows you to stretch your knees and calves at 24 degrees of incline.
The grassroots brand takes pride in the DIY aesthetic of its slant board, which it created in response to Knees Over Toes enthusiasts that didn’t have the skill set, tools or time to construct their own stretching platform. At less than $70, this is a quality introduction to the discipline that’s easy to carry and use, albeit at a non-adjustable angle.
Angle: 24 degrees
Weight Capacity: N/A
- Adjustable angle provides versatility to suit your training needs
- Great for under-your-desk stretching
- Plastic construction can feel unsteady for some
- Catches for angle adjustment could be deeper for more security
Curious about slant boards but don’t want to break the bank just yet? The StrongTek Portable Slant Board can be an easy way to get used to the modalities from the comfort of your desk chair. At less than 4 pounds, this compact, plastic platform folds neatly for travel and storage. And with four varying degrees of incline, you can set the board to your liking for an efficient, comfortable routine.
Due to the plastic construction, this slant board isn’t ideal for weighted exercises or intense pressure. With that said, though, if you’re new to the discipline and want to get accustomed to the movements, this is a more digestible option, especially for those keeping tabs on the cost.
Angle: 20–45 degrees
Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
- EVA Foam construction is comfortable yet grippy
- Split design allows for wider, personalized stance
- Foam can begin to wear over time
- Not as sturdy as others on this list
Looking for a comfortable platform to get a full stretch? The Lumia 12-inch Foam Incline Slant Boards feature a split design, giving each foot a designated incline. Adjustable inserts allow you to toggle between 8, 16 and 24 degrees, so you can easily match your preferences to your stretching routine.
The EVA Foam provides a comfortable step that’s cozy yet firm, but continued training could lead to some wear over the years. Additionally, because of the shorter angles, the Lumia 12-inch Foam Incline Slant Boards can be great for yoga and other exercise routines.
Angle: 8–24 degrees
Weight Capacity: 250 pounds per wedge
- Full steel construction for a durable, sturdy base
- One-year warranty in case of bends or breaks
- Non-slip coating can deteriorate over extended use
- Bracing against a wall might be required for absolute security
Slant boards don’t have to be flashy, and with the WL Professional Steel Calf Stretcher, the purpose is clear in its minimalist design. Just a lightweight steel frame and full non-slip platform that’s ready to give you enhanced stretching for your calves, tendons and knees.
The WL Professional Steel Calf Stretcher can be adjusted between 15 and 35 degrees of incline for varied training and can support up to 500 pounds. The foldable profile allows for easy storage and transport as well. And if you ever push the limit a little too far, this slant board comes with a one-year warranty for added convenience.
Angle: 15–35 degrees
Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
- Available in partial and full anti-slip coverage patterns
- Adjustable angle for varied stretching
- Not ideal for weighted exercises
- Wood finish can cause the anti-slip tape to peel for some users
If wood is more your aesthetic of choice, the StrongTek Professional Wooden Slant Board is a, ahem, strong pick to consider. Able to vary between 15 and 35 degrees of incline, this platform also features anti-slip grip tape across the platform in both partial and full coverage designs.
For added sturdiness, the StrongTek Professional also features anti-slip pads on the base for gripping the floor and a more locked-down feel. And a convenient handle cut-out at the side of the profile allows for simple carrying from the gym, to the living room and beyond.
Angle: 15–35 degrees
Weight Capacity: 450 pounds