Monday, April 7, 2014

Backwards Walking (BW)

I am asked occasionally about backwards walking on a treadmill.  I haven't worked with anyone yet where I would recommend it. Of course, backwards walking and running for some is sports specific training as in football and tennis.  BW can be a tricky scenario although I see people doing it quite often in the gym. I do limited amounts of BW on the floor with my personal training clients with bands for extra resistance.  It's a good way to strengthen the gluts and add a stability challenge at the same time.  Research has shown that it might also aid in flexibility of the hamstrings and reduces the stress on the knees.  When walking forward a step begins with a heel strike, but with BW, it is just the reverse meaning the ball of the foot comes down first and then the heel. That might be more comfortable for some and useful in other ways at the same time.  I use BW with balance training in mind.  My 45+ participants might not think about it for balance, but when I hear "oops!" I know it is good for them.  My older adults do backwards walking as well holding onto the bar. For some of them it's little scary, but the more they do it, it becomes comfortable.  The pool is a great place to practice BW.  Falling is never an option so I always try to  have everyone in a safe place.

Resource: Exercise and Sports Science Reviews January 2014 Steps Forward in Understanding Backward Gait by Hoogkamer, Wonter; Meyns, Pieter; Duysens, Jacques

During the remainder of April I plan to write about weight training/resistance training. I hope you find something helpful.