Egoscue exercise spotlight: Wall drop

wall drop

The wall drop makes you look like a wall flower.

Any time I’ve ever given Wall Drop to a client, the client has instantly said, “Oh, this is a calf stretch!” And they’re right. It is a calf stretch, but there’s also a little more going on with the wall drop.

For those who aren’t familiar with the wall drop, the exercise involves standing on a slant board with your back against the wall. Your heels are dropped lower than your toes so that your calves are, in fact, getting a stretch. You keep your mid back, upper back, shoulders and head against the wall, and you stay there for 3-5 minutes just breathing and relaxing.

What Wall Drop Does

When you come off the slant board and back down to the floor the first time, it’s common to feel like your lower legs have turned into jelly.

It’s also very common to feel like someone swapped your lower back with someone’s else’s. Why?

Remember, your whole body’s connected! Pieces interact and affect other pieces. If you swap only one tire on your car, will it affect the other tires, the suspension, the steering wheel alignment? Yup.

To have your heels dropped and your head and mid back against the wall requires your lower back to be off the wall. ┬áThe dropping of your heels and the position you maintain against the wall actually creates a big lordosis in your lumbar spine. So if you’re someone who typically has a flat lower back (very little lordosis), you’ll find that this Egoscue exercise gives your lower back a sneaky encouragement to development more lordosis.

flat/kyphotic lumbar spine

This lumbar spine has no curve.

This position also does something else really important. It helps reduce rotations in the pelvis and the rib cage/torso. Many people have muscular imbalances that leave the body twisted and tilted. Wall drop makes it difficult for your body to maintain those twists and tilts. Depending on which muscles are responsible for the twisting/tilting, wall drop can be very effective for evening things out (it tends not to be very effective when the twisting/tilting is being driven by strong asymmetry in activation in the erector spinae).

person with twists and tilts in alignment

This is an example of twists and tilts correcting with lots of wall drop.

Why you may want to do Wall Drop

To recap, you may want to do Wall Drop (or your Egoscue therapist may assign it to you as you protest) for several reasons:

  1. Help you stretch your calves and increase ankle flexibility
  2. Help you gain lordosis in your lumbar spine
  3. Help you address twists and tilts in your body

Where you can buy a slant board

If you’ve been meaning to do the Wall Drop but never had someone to ask about it, hopefully this post shed a little light on it for you. If you need to get a slant board, I can recommend two.

The first is the lower cost option at Railyard Fitness. It will cost you about $45 with shipping in the US. It’s made of plastic, is pretty lightweight, and will last a while IF you aren’t too heavy. I’ve used this in my office for years (at least 4), and it works quite well. However, if you’re over 200 lbs, this board will bend, and you will not feel particularly safe. I believe it’s rated to take up to 250 lbs, but that doesn’t mean you’ll feel all that safe as you get close to that limit. I had an old pickup truck that could theoretically drive 120 mph, but it sure didn’t sound or feel like it wanted to do any more than 80!

The Railyard Fitness Slant Board

The Railyard Fitness Slant Board. Click picture to buy it at Railyard Fitness.

The other option is a quality wood slant board. I have one of these in my office, and you will feel very secure on it. Deformation just doesn’t seem to happen. I don’t know what the weight rating is, but it definitely feels safer than the plastic. You do pay twice the price for the quality, but if you are heavier than 200 lbs, you’ll definitely want to consider getting a wood board.

I hope you found this post useful in figuring out how to move your body in the right direction. If you have questions, leave them in the comments section below.

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About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.

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