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Walking backwards is good for you!

posted May 18, 2017, 6:51 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated May 18, 2017, 6:58 PM ]
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Tango followers spend most of their time on the floor stepping backwards. The benefits to the glutes of pushing into the floor for a backward step is obvious.

But the benefits extend beyond having a great bootie! 

Professors Barry Bates and Janet Dufek have been studying the benefits of retro-walking since the 1980s claim that it:

 "creates reduced shear force on the knees, and may be useful for anyone experiencing pain going up and stairs or doing lunges or squats. Walking backwards uses more energy in a shorter period of time, and burns more calories. It is good for those recovering from hamstring strain because of reduced hip range of motion. Backward walking creates no eccentric loading of the knee joint, the lengthening phase of going down hills or stairs, and can give hikers and scramblers some rest from overuse."1

The following article by osteopathic physician Dr Mercola expands on the benefits of backward walking.  This is an excerpt of the article which you can read in full here.

Stimulate Your Fitness IQ By Walking Backward

One of the challenges with staying fit, even if you exercise regularly, is avoiding the "plateaus" that occur as your muscles adapt to your workouts.

It takes just six to eight weeks for your body to adapt to your exercise routine, according to the American Council on Exercise,1 which means you need to change up your program at least every couple of months or your fitness gains will level off.

If you're at a loss for a new activity to try, consider walking backwards. Though it might sound a bit strange, it can be incredibly beneficial.

The Many Benefits of Walking Backwards

Backward walking, also known as retro walking, is said to have originated in ancient China, where it was practiced for good health. In the modern world, it's become quite the rage in Japan, China and parts of Europe, where people use it to build muscle, improve sports performance, promote balance and more.

For starters, when you walk backwards, it puts less strain and requires less range of motion from your knee joints, making it ideal for people who have knee problems or injuries. Also, because backward walking eliminates the typical heel-strike to the ground (the toe contacts the ground first), it can lead to changes in pelvis alignment that help open up the facet joints in your spine, potentially alleviating pressure that may cause low back pain in some people.2

Not to mention, walking backwards gives you a chance to work out all of those muscles in your legs, such as your quadriceps and calves, which take a backseat to your hamstrings and glutes during regular walking. It also works out your hamstrings in a different way, and walking backwards for just 10-15 minutes, four days a week for four weeks has been shown to increase flexibility in your hamstrings.3

A More Intense, Comprehensive Workout in Less Time

Interestingly, when you walk backwards, your heart rate tends to rise higher than it does when walking forward at the same pace, which suggests you can get greater cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter period of time. In one study, women who underwent a six-week backward run/walk training program had a significant decrease in body fat as well as improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness at the end of the study.4

There appear to be benefits for your brain, too. Researchers found that when you walk backwards, it sharpens your thinking skills and enhances cognitive control.5 This may be because even though backward walking is a physical activity, it's also a "neurobic" activity, meaning it requires brain activity that may help you stay mentally sharp. Plus, since it puts your senses into overdrive as you move in an unfamiliar way, it is also known to enhance vision as well.

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