Most people who are leading a healthy lifestyle like to be active. The easiest you can do is walk a little every day, at least to the nearest park in the evening to enjoy the fresh air and relax after a long day. We walk on any given day and it’s totally natural, so we don’t usually think before moving our legs one after another. But what if we switched things around a little bit? How about walking backward? All you need is the desire to learn, a normal reaction to mistakes, and some free time. There are more benefits of walking backward than you think. And in this article, I’m going to share them with you, as well as common techniques and recommendations.
Why Try Walking Backward?
Reverse walking offers a ton of benefits, starting with the common “learning something new”. Sometimes we need it to improve the quality of our lives. And along with other benefits of such foot stretches, you get a healthier body, stronger muscles, a calmer mind, and a fun time!
Here are only some of the benefits of walking backward:
- Mental clarity
- Awareness of your body
- Better coordination
- Vision improvement
- Motivation to get out of the comfort zone
- Mood improvement
- Faster metabolism
- Stronger bones
- Balance training
- Diversity in training
- Less lower back pain
- Improved sleep
- Stronger heart
- Less knee strain, etc.
The perks are highly individual, but they all make it worth trying reverse walking. Let’s review the major benefits in detail and learn how to walk backward today!
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Walking Backward Benefits
So, what are the benefits of walking backward?
More Calories Burned
According to the Compendium of Physical Activities, reverse walking at a speed of 3.5 miles per hour is 6.0 METs (metabolic equivalents). When you walk regularly, it’s about 4.3 METs. And if you walk backward with an incline, the number grows to 8.0 METs. By engaging in this physical activity you can spend almost twice as many calories as you would when walking as you usually do.
Walking in an unnatural way requires superior coordination. At first, it will be difficult, but as you train your brain along with your legs, your balance will be improved. Besides, learning something new and improving skills is good for your brain, improving focus, which will help you in regular life.
During our usual walk, some muscles on the back of our legs don’t get as trained as they could. By incorporating backward walking, you make sure you put some load on those inactive muscles as well, which leads to better focus, stronger legs, and fitness.
Less Knee Pain
According to the Journal of Biomechanics, running backward causes less knee pain than regular running. So, if you have knee issues, talk to your physical therapist about this new type of activity.
Less Lower Back Pain
The stretch you get from such a physical activity can help you relieve lower back pain. If you move backward, either walk or run, for at least 15 minutes a day, that’s enough to feel the results in the long run.
Better Body Composition
Finally, the International Journal of Sports Medicine reports that backward walking and running in tandem improves body composition and strengthens cardiorespiratory health.
The benefits of walking backward up a hill include a better stretching of your ankles and hamstrings, which not only feels good but is useful for your body. Before you start, though, read our recommendations.
Essential Tips Before You Try Walking Backward
Unless you want to get no results or even the opposite of the benefits I mentioned, keep these recommendations in mind:
- Train for at least for 10-15 minutes to see results.
- If you’re using a treadmill for your training, start with a slower pace because you may slip and injure yourself.
- For the best results, mix forward and backward walking and/or running.
- Don’t attempt reverse running if you haven’t mastered walking yet.
- If you train at home, make sure there are no obstacles on the floor you can slip or stumble upon, injuring yourself.
- If you train outside, make sure the terrain is flat and not slippery and there are no obstacles like animals, rocks, etc.
- Wear comfortable shoes for ankle safety and overall convenience.
These will ensure you’re prepared to walk without painful consequences.
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How To Walk Backward Safely
This may sound more dangerous than safe, but it’s recommended to use a treadmill if you can (1). The thing is, this environment is easy to control. You don’t have to think about the obstacles in your way, there’s a lower risk of feeling light-headed because of the unusual direction in which the things around move as you walk backward, and you’re the one changing the speed whenever needed.
However, you’ll have to keep a straight line and always control the speed because one wrong move may cost you several weeks if not months treating your knees and ankles.
Start with 1 mph and move gradually to 3 mph. Keep in mind that your body isn’t prepared to walk like this automatically. With that in mind, give it time and practice patience.
Up Your Game: Try Backward Running
Once you master backward walking, it’s time to try running this way. You can start with a low speed and move to a confident jog. Don’t push yourself to the limits because it’s still easy to lose coordination and fall. Make absolutely sure you can reverse walk fast enough first.
Concentrate on each step and you’ll get better with every workout!
Read More: Is Walking Cardio? Here’s What Experts Say
The benefits of walking backward are plenty, both for physical and mental health. Not only do you become more aware of your body, but you also improve focus and coordination. The pain in the lower back and knees won’t be a problem soon either.
10-15 minutes a day is enough to progress steadily. You can train inside, outside, or on a treadmill, the latter being the most easy-to-control option. If you have joint problems, consult your physiotherapist first before attempting to do any unknown workouts.
And good luck learning a new way to walk and run!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Compendium of Physical Activities (n.d., lww.com)
- Patellofemoral joint compression forces in backward and forward running (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effect of backward locomotion training on the body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness of young women (2005, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Walking Backward: The Mind and Body Benefits (n.d., healthline.com)