Physical Benefits of Backward Running and Walking

What is Backward walking?
Backward running, also known as backwards running, running backwards, retro running, or retro locomotion is the act of running in reverse, so that one travels in the direction one’s back is facing rather than one’s front. It is classed as a retro movement, the reverse of any normal movement. Non-English names include Rückwartslaufen and Marcha Reversiva.

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Backward running is a less natural motion, but can be accomplished with some speed with practice. It is better to start out backward walking (also called retropedaling) which is relatively easy, and speeding up. Like normal running, running up and down hills backwards will add an additional degree of difficulty.

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Many people in Japan practice walking or running backward. In that way, it burns several times more calories than traditional way of jogging exercise. Aside from this advantage, your balance increases, meaning vision and hearing powers increase, too. It is because you do not have eyes behind you, so the senses pick up the needs.

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Backward walking is practiced since long time ago especially among elderly people as a part of daily exercise to be mentally and physically fit. This kind of practice is also called retro-exercise.

Physical benefits:
The combination of normal forward running and backward running is called mixed running or alternative mixed running. Some believe that running backwards helps balance out the strain brought on by normal running. Reversing the direction works the friction of tissues oppositely. Running flat or uphill, the heel is used to push off rather than the ball of the foot as normally occurs with forward runnining, working the tibialis anterior muscle (pushes the heel down, raises front of foot) more as a prime mover than a shock absorber. When running backward downhill, the ball of the foot is used whereas forward downhill running uses mainly the heel to absorb the force. This requires more cordnation and therefor develops brain power along with muscle power.

While downhill backward running is essentially the reverse of uphill running, and uphill backward running of downhill running, they are different in that the fibres would fire differently due to differences in the isotonic motions. The former is an eccentric version of a concentric movement, and the latter is a concentric version of an eccentric movement. Both concentric and eccentric movements have advantages in training, which is why most weight lifters perform both for set times.

With all forms there is an obvious backward lean relative to normal running’s forward lean, which can shift the stress of the other muscle fibres a small degree.

Other advantages to backward running are a reduction in fear related to the movement, a form of exercise that is naturally more reserved, gains in balance, and the general enjoyment resulting from entertaining activities like these. Due to constantly having to look behind oneself, or sometimes keeping the eyes fixed, people can learn to run with more neck mobility or without a straight look ahead. This can stress the neck muscles which can be dangerous if done too aggressively, but in the long term could lead to adaptations in them.

Backward running adds another dimension to running, and when complimented by sidestepping in both directions (with and without crossovers front and behind intermittantly) covers the essential dimensions of human movement on the two-dimensional plane. Diagonal movement as well as curving running (as is done on long race tracks like 200m+ in the Olympics) are additional forms of running.

When compared to normal running it has less strain on knees.
Strengthens and improves balances between two big muscle groups hamstrings and quadriceps.

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In all sports, during the warm up and cooling sessions, backward and sideward running are a great help for the muscles.

Quadriceps is used more for forward running while hamstring muscles are used in retro running. This compensates for the pressure put on the muscles during normal running.
Since the back of the knee gets stretched during for forward running, retro running gives relief to the back of the knee. Uphill backward running strengthens the hamstring muscles further and tones them.

Besides providing relief and strengthening the muscles, retro running actually enhances the speed and flow of forward or normal running.

Moreover, backward jogging is also helpful in quick recovery from leg injuries. Backward hopping and backward running in a zigzag manner on the other hand, strengthen the back of the knee.

Retro running also helps dodging the opponent and speeds up backward movement.
To get best results, practice backward running initially at least twice a week up to 50 meters for three to five reps. It will help to burn considerable amount of calories depending on the speed and distance.

So, if you want to get strong and well toned leg muscles as well as improve the speed of your normal running, practice retro running.

It’s a reasonable and a good way to incorporate another means of exercise to lessen the stress on any given part of the body. This kind of backward movement especially running strengthens the heart, lungs, muscles and joints.

It’s good for the hips, legs, and trunk. When you go backwards, your stomach will work out like your back and creates a nice reaction for your abdominals. Putting it in reverse for a while is a pretty good deal.

Also, 100 steps backward walking is equivalent to 10,000 steps conventional walking. Doctors recommend us to walk or do jogging everyday as a part of exercise. But it is too time-consuming for busy businesspeople. A physical exerciser said that 100 steps backward walking is equivalent to 10,000 steps conventional walking. 10,000 steps walking take a half day work. Many have no such precious time to waste just for jogging or walking especially in the morning. It is also hard to continue everyday.

For backward walking, an important point is not to bend the knee, but it is recommended to try to keep your feet straight or in stretched position. Backward walking does not require long distance, which means you can do it anywhere, at your backyard or at the top of your office building during snack time.

The drawback, of course, is a lack of hindsight. It is recommend that newcomers to backward walking or running ……do it gradually on a track to avoid potholes, signs, cars and other hazards.

Let’s walk backward and get physically and mentally healthy.

Resources:
http://www.pyroenergen.com/articles/backward-running.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backward_running
http://www.helium.com/items/1103245-retro-running-health-benefits

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