Indoor slackline Woodie – a great tool in physiotherapy and sports

Author: Dane Nemac, kinesiologist

How are you utilizing the Woodie slackrack?

We have been using the indoor slackline as one of the exercise tools within our sport and rehab studio Gibalna klinika for a few years now.  It has proven as a very useful tool for conditioning training of athletes, recreational workouts for general population and in injury rehabilitation. We have tried it with customers of a wide age range – from 10 to 72. The slackrack has become an essential part of our warmup routine, but it was also often used for achieving main workout goals, since it enables practicing of different motor skills.

Indoor Slackline Woodie, great tool for physiotherapy

Which motor skills?

The most obvious is balance of course, but Woodie’s instability also provides great stimulus for strength and coordination training. It is especially useful for strength exercises aiming to improve joint stabilization. Swinging of the slackline is causing reflex and conscious contractions of the muscles surrounding those joints that are subjected to fast position changes. For example, when we step on an indoor slackline, it starts to swing and to prevent unwanted movements in our ankles, knees, hips (and even spine) we have to adequately contract the muscles around them. This is the primary, reflex response. But if we also want to keep our balance, those muscle contractions have to get coordinated. That way we’re not only improving our reflex responses but also their effectiveness. And that’s a crucial part of injury rehabilitation and prevention.

When does it make sense to use Woodie in injury rehabilitation?

Primarily we used the slackrack for treating injuries of the lower extremities – ankles, knees and hips. It’s also very useful with back pain, where besides improving flexibility and muscle stabilization, we must not forget about proprioception. We have even used the indoor slackline for shoulder injuries, since the same effects (as previously described for standing on a slackrack) can be achieved for upper extremities using different versions of planking.

It seems that a slackrack can be used for working out all parts of your body.

That’s right, all you need is some knowledge and ingenuity or you can just open the included handbook, where you can find exercises of different difficulty levels for all muscle groups. Doing push-ups gets way more interesting, because while performing the exercise we have to constantly resist the swinging of the slackline. Some of the more complex exercises where we practice balance, strength and coordination all at the same time, are even more fun.

There’s a lot of exercise tools on the market, does Woodie offer any advantages?

Working out on a Woodie is fun, that’s the first advantage. As a result all of our customers were motivated for exercises on the slackrack. If we look from a professional standpoint, slackrack is, at least to my knowledge, the only exercise tool that causes translations of your body’s centre of gravity at such a high frequency.  With most of the balance training tools we can only achieve tilting – like tilting your ankle on a balance board or foam. There are some tools able to provide translation movement but only at low speeds. Much slower than those slips causing injuries at different sports activities. On the indoor slackline, however, there are tilts (since the slackline also tilts) and translations at high speed and frequency. So it more accurately simulates those unpredictable slips and movements in the joints that we experience in physical activities. We can also change the frequency and amplitude of Woodie’s swinging by adjusting the tension of the slackline.

Ok, not to get too scientific, let’s go back to the first claim, why working out on a Woodie indoor slackline rack is fun?

For start it’s a novelty for almost everyone. Only a few have already tried walking on a slackline. But even for those we can quickly find new challenges, since exercises on a slackrack can be adapted for all skill levels. That means working out on a Woodie can be a challenge for everyone. Besides, with regular repetitions everybody achieved obvious improvements and new gained skills always motivate people. And finally, slackrack adds a new dimension to exercises, it’s no longer a matter of monotonously repeating the same movement but of mastering constantly changing conditions.

And is it safe for everyone?

With appropriate adjustments and supervision it’s safe even for elderly and those less agile. At the beginning in the case of standing on an slackrack we can always use an additional support that we can hold on to. With improved performance we can than gradually reduce the support. It is also important to emphasize that it is not necessary to achieve independent performance without support, as the exercise will still be effective.

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