Walking backwards has a surprising number of health benefits

Walking doesn’t require any special equipment or a gym membership. Best of all, it’s completely free. For most of us, walking is automatic. Many of us forget the benefits of walking for health because it requires no conscious effort. But stop walking on autopilot and start challenging your brain and body by walking backwards. What if this change in direction not only demands more of our attention, but may also offer additional health benefits.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether or not you’re active regularly, even 10 minutes of brisk walking each day has many health benefits and counts toward the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week.

But walking is more complicated than many of us realize. Maintaining an upright position requires coordination between the visual system, the vestibular system (the sensations associated with movement such as twisting, turning, and zipping), and the proprioceptive system (perceiving where the body is in space). Is required. Walking backwards takes longer for your brain to process the extra demands of coordinating these systems. However, this increased level of challenge provides increased health benefits.

One of the most well-studied benefits of walking backwards is improved stability and balance. Walking backwards improves forward gait (the way people walk) and balance in healthy adults and adults with knee osteoarthritis. Walking backwards shortens the stride and increases the number of steps, which increases muscle endurance in the lower extremities and reduces the strain on the joints.

Varying your incline and descent can also change joint and muscle range of motion, helping relieve pain in conditions such as plantar fasciitis, one of the most common causes of heel pain.

The change in posture brought about by walking backwards uses more of the muscles that support the lumbar spine. This suggests that walking backwards may be a particularly beneficial exercise for people with chronic back pain.

Backward walking has also been used to identify and treat balance and walking speed in patients with neurological disorders and chronic stroke.

However, the benefits of reorientation are not limited to therapeutic effects. Interest in backward movement has led researchers to discover a variety of other benefits.

Walking normally helps maintain a healthy weight, but walking backwards is even more effective. Energy expenditure is about 40% higher when walking backwards than when walking forwards at the same speed. (6.0 METs vs. 4.3 METs – one metabolic equivalent (Met) is the amount of oxygen consumed at rest). One study showed a reduction in body fat. For women who have completed a 6-week backward walking or running training program.

Once you feel confident in retrograde, moving on to running can be even more demanding. Often studied as a rehabilitation tool, backward running increases the strength of muscles important for straightening the knee. This leads not only to injury prevention, but also to the ability to generate power and athletic performance.

Sustained backward running expends less energy when running forward. These improvements in economical running are also beneficial for experienced runners who already have economical running techniques.

Walking backwards seems too easy, but if space limitations affect your ability to run backwards, another way to add an extra challenge is to drag weights. Increasing your knee extensor muscle recruitment increases while placing a heavy load on your heart and lungs for a short period of time.

Pull the weight while walking backwards.
Ben Molyneux / Alamy Stock Photo

Even if the sled is loaded and dragged backwards, the risk of injury is low. Because if you get too tired, the sled will most likely get stuck. However, with lighter weights, this type of exercise can produce adequate levels of resistance and can stimulate significant improvements in lower extremity strength, allowing you to drag as little as 10% of your body weight. This leads to improved sprint times in young athletes.

how to get started

Walking backwards is easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So how can walking backwards be added to your exercise plan?

If you walk backwards, you are more likely to miss obstacles and hazards that you can hit or fall on. So, for safety, it’s best to start indoors where you won’t bump into someone, or outdoors in a flat, open area. range.

Resist the urge to contort and look back over your shoulder. Keeping your head and chest upright, reach your big toes back with each step and roll your feet from your toes to your heels.

Once you feel confident walking backwards, you can also use the guide rails to increase speed or transition onto the treadmill if needed. please give me. Focus on multiple sets, not long distances, and remember to maintain perfection of technique within 20 meters at first.

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