Walking backwards on life’s journey is surely discouraging but on a jogger’s track, it is terrific!
Walking backwards or retro-walking takes the benefits of conventional walking a few notches higher. The British Journal of Sports Medicine cannot stop raving about this unconventional exercise to upgrade your fitness quotient after the subjects of a few studies showed remarkable improvement in their strength, balance and endurance within 6 weeks of commencing.
The biomechanics of reverse walking is what gives it an edge over others. Conventional forward walking or jogging or running use semitendinosus and semimembranosus tendons and the long head of your biceps femoris forming your hamstrings and the gluteus muscles, which together help rotate your knees and extend your hips. Retro-walking gives a whole new range of movement by using quadriceps and calves to generate motion and also interdependently strengthens your hamstring further. 15-20 minutes of reverse walking gives a more intense and comprehensive workout than you would otherwise attain through an hour of brisk walking.
The retro-walking mutually relies on and delightfully offers benefits out of three main aspects:
You have to rely on your ability to judge the relation between a space you cannot see and your movement. And if you do not have any, you will soon develop some with lightning speed!
‘Tread’ing with caution
The dilemma every jogger or walker lives with: treadmilling or ground-walking. Treadmills are like the harbours; safe and secure. But that is not where the ships are meant to be! Treadmills make your motion easier and predictable.
Nevertheless, though you are sure to get some peripheral support walking on a treadmill, you are equally prone to getting sore on knees and ankles with the parallel belt movement assisting you. When you walk you walk under gravity, not parallel to it. So, if you are looking at long term benefits, hit an open ground. Flat or inclined, natural surfaces are gentler on your joints and at the same time more challenging.
Retro to Rescue
Retro-walking is an excellent rehabilitative exercise for knee and back injuries and even for some motor-co-ordination disorders because it allows a safer stretch-shorten cycle of muscle-tendon units and conditions them uniformly.
Every fitness enthusiast will have a colourful history of injuries and jolts to talks about; some of which they continue to live with because all those months of anti-inflammatories, painful sabbaticals from workouts, home remedies or physical therapies gave up on them. It is perhaps time to start treading backwards.
You will be surprised to see your Achilles heel ready to tango and that stubborn back spiraling through intense vinyasa asanas with ease of a river!
Adding a fresh twist to your regimented workout schedule and getting bigger benefits wouldn’t be a bad deal at all. Alone, or with an exercise buddy, this exercise may at times take you down but will never let you down!