Below in quotations is an exchange a reader sent to me that he attributed to Charles Poliquin. https://www.charlespoliquin.com/
As you will read below, I have neither a familiarity with Poliquin’s methods nor a commonality with much of what I have heard attributed to him. The below statements seem reasonable that someone would say and believe them, but please consider I am addressing the subject, not the individual. I am sure there are many others that may have similar beliefs.
“Q: I was thinking of doing some lateral-motion training for aerobic conditioning. Can you recommend a good slide board product?
A: I can’t recommend a good slide board product because I don’t like them. I think they’re harmful to the knees. The damage might not surface immediately, but like developing a dental cavity, it’ll take time, and once you perceive the damage, it’ll be too late.
A few years ago, I lectured at the International Skating Union. John McCall, one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the business and physician for several Olympic and World Championships teams concurred with my opinion on how they help to trash the knees. Those devices have a breaking system at the lateral aspect of the foot to prevent you from coming off the board, which in turn creates unwanted torque on the lateral aspect of the knee.
Additionally, a Finnish coach present at the lectures did his Masters degree thesis on the various dryland skating drills/devices. Using telemetric EMG technology, he showed that the slide board has the least transfer to the actual skating stride.
My best advice is to invest in a pair of in-line skates. They’re cheaper and safer.”
I don’t see it. I just don’t see the slideboard as an automatic problem.
There are so few things out there that are “wrong.” I don’t think the slideboard is one of them.
I would consider “wrong” as something done correctly and still with a dominant downside. The only things that I can think of as “wrong” are loaded or repetitive lumbar training, fixed axis machine training, vertical vibration training, which is minimally accessible in the grand scheme anyway. Everything we choose to do has a relative risk. In my opinion, the small list, of which the slideboard is not included, has a negative outweighing the positive AND have alternate safer options with at worst identical benefit.
Why would you do something that gave you +A, +B, and +C, but only one option gave you -D?
Sure, slideboards are slippery, so is it fair to say that the slideboard has an inherent risk above something that is not slippery. But if it is used correctly for a person properly screened and progressed for the movement, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
As you read through this, you may be able to change the word slideboard to a whole lot of other training choices.
1. I didn’t find any literature to support Slideboards = Knee Dysfunction or Pain.
I have not spent a lot time searching for this evidence, but I have not found any research reporting a slideboard use as a direct effect causing knee pain. That certainly doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; I just didn’t find it. I really didn’t look very hard to be honest.
If there was research that someone had no knee pain, did slideboard correctly, then had knee pain, that would be what we should be looking for. BUT like any safety-based research, we have to look at baselines. When we hear folks putting the mouth on the slideboard, I wo
uld ask them, is it possible that the folks using the slideboard showed up to the slideboard with a physical limitation that got exposed by the slideboard? Was it the slideboard or the silent problem that finally started to speak up?
Great research can be very myopic, as it should be sometimes, to meet the special demands of EBP and the scientific method.
2. Lateral conditioning on the Slideboard meets the Joint by Joint.
The first thing I look for in evaluating an exercise choice is if it meets Coach Boyle’s Joint by Joint Theory when it is executed with technical proficiency.
Obviously the slideboard may have an increase challenge to technical proficiency for some. You just don’t use it for those people as you screened them out quite appropriately if this is the case.
Movements that are worth dealing with the challenge of keeping for are designed for a conditioning effect. This means we must impose a demand to the body for it to positively remodel in someway. So of course the slideboard can be injurious when done wrong. The snapshot of the knee buckling at the end of the board does not meet the Joint by Joint. But again it’s not the Slideboard. It’s the executuion, which can come down to physical limitations or inefficient coaching.
Maybe for folks that get hurt from slideboards just weren’t ready for the slideboard……………..yet.
3. Evaluate the source.
First off, I have never been to a Charles Poliquin course, read a book, even been to his Website. Perhaps I should, and now that I think of it, I will. All I know about him that I think can be confirmed is that he uses what I would consider a bodybuilding approach, which is probably a good idea for bodybuilders I might say, and defends the use of seated leg extensions and preacher curls.
So taking any name out of the equation, I have a hard time integrating someone’s opinion on knee pain when they believe in knee extensions. I’m just calling a spade a spade. Maybe Poliquin and I could have a great time talking about football or a chick in Maxim (see below). But for an individual that believes in training on machines, I’m going to have a hard time believing we are going to agree on much when it comes to training and rehab.
And going on the information above, he doesn’t even really give a reason for not liking the Slideboard other than talking to a doctor.
4. I am good @ training and rehab. Surgeons are good @ surgery.
Unless I know surgeons know what I know about training and rehab, I have zero value for their opinions on training and rehab. Zero.
Think of it like this. How often do surgeons see people that are doing great? Man, I am strong as shit, and I just banged a 19 on the FMS. I need to go make an appointment with my surgeon.
No, surgeons see people in pain. They probably see a lot of people that get hurt with a new primary activity of slideboards. I believe that.
What I also believe is that when you see the same stereotype over and over, in this case someone injured from doing something, it becomes very hard to believe that the movement can actually be done without injury. This is why doctors say don’t squat or don’t run or don’t do whatever. They can’t possibly believe someone can squat or slideboard properly because all they see are people that get hurt from those same activites.
Hey, I would love to hear Dr. McCall’s critical analysis of the move, but simply from the heresay above, it sounds like someone was using the end of the slideboard to brake instead of the appropriate co-contractions of the lower extremity. I think by the time you hit the board, you should be pretty well decelerated by then.
5. A good Slideboard?
I don’t mind mentioning Ultraslide because of the support they have given to the NBA Strength Coaches over the years, but I am not a great resource on slideboards. The one we have here is one that all rolls up, and I would not recommend it.
6. Do you need to have a slideboard anyway?
Well, from another angle in discreditting that slideboards are spawned from the Evil Empire, there are some very excellent moves other than lateral conditioning that you can use a slideboard for, such as slideboard leg curls, reverse lunges, and rollouts. I don’t know that you must do these activities, but to say you don’t need a slideboard because you don’t like the lateral conditioning, it is myopic to not consider these options, should you believe in their value.
7. Why lateral conditioning?
Most sports are dominated by a linear function in their play. Obviously only track is purely linear, so everything has a level of multi-directional movement. But most sports involve protection of the rear and attack to the front, so the linear vector dominates. And with a dominant direction of movement comes the proximity to overuse.
So in considering the quality of metabolic capactiy and anaerobic training, repeated movements are obviously the most efficient approach to safely getting heart rate to appropriate levels. The risk is in the repetition.
So if we have an alternate approach to repetition in the name of anaerobic conditioning, the slideboard finds a home very neatly and effectively. The value in slideboard conditioning, I think, is less about duplicating a skating pattern or even functioning specifically laterally. It is a about functioning NOT linearly.
So, I would 100% agree that staying on the ice or using skates would be a far better choice for duplicating the skating mechanics. And in fact, I would want to be very far from a slideboard for skaters that are in-season for the same reasons above. We want lack of specificity in conditioning to steer clear of overuse.
So all in all, like I said, this topic of slideboards can be interchanged with many different choices that have some level of increased risk. It is always up to you to decide the risk-reward of any option we have in training and rehab.
Simply make sure the individual that is trusting their body with you is in the right place at the right time with the right person.
But as far as the claims above, I am aware of no evidence to support slideboards done with appropriate screening and progression are of any danger. Anecdotally, without screening and/or progression, they can be a very poor choice.
You make several salient points. We use the slideboard with relative frequency for nearly all of our athletes including the bulk of our linear athletes as a general movement that usually is built toward the end of our warm ups. On lighter days we’ll include some extensive intervals as part of our metabolic circuits again to just elevate heart rate using non-running menas. To date, we’ve had no problems with knees, ankles, or hips and for the most part our runners are more resilient after several weeks of training than they were before coming in, which may be the result of our dedication to the joint by joint and functional movement system.