While it sounds a bit odd, there is at least one less-than-common way we can improve our balance, strength, cardio-respiratory fitness, flexibility and range of motion, coordination and calorie burn. We can also reduce knee pain, give our brains a challenge, and have a bit of fun too — all at the same time! It also may also attract attention — something you may, or may not —  want to do.

It’s so simple just about anyone can do it – though some caution is in order. And it requires no extra supplies and minimal preparation, once you’ve done it a bit.

rear view of feet of woman in comfortable shoes walking outdoorsWalking Backwards!

Obviously, walking backwards requires some preliminary attention to safety and is not for everyone. A safe, uncluttered area like a hallway or even along a wall with open space is a great place to start. You can begin with your hand on the wall and gradually move away from constant contact, but it’s close by if needed. The back of a long couch could work too. Begin slowly and start with just a few minutes, increasing your time and your pace as you get stronger and more familiar.

Safety always comes first! If you have balance issues, be sure to work with a movement coach, PT or other knowledgeable helper. Walking in a pool can be a great way to begin or just to experience a different set of demands — Osborn Aquatic Center, and other area pools, provide many water-based exercise options and I periodically see people walking backwards in the shallow end of the indoor pool.

Use Caution with Outside Walking

Make sure the area is flat and free of any hazards and that there are no potential surprises – like a pet or child’s ball – that can show up on your path. You may be able to find an area in a park with a railing or along a fence. You can also walk with a partner facing forward to watch out for obstacles. As your strength, balance and confidence increase, you can try a path with more elevation change – safely, with a partner!

Some folks may even find backwards treadmill walking helps spice up their routine. I recommend care and supervision – and holding onto the handrails — till you’ve developed your ability.

Benefits of Building Backward Walking into Your Routine

Whether you walk indoors, outdoors or on a treadmill, you’re certainly improving your balance as you learn to rely more on your vestibular system. Focus and alertness are essential and will probably continue even after you walk forward again. This little tweak might really upgrade your workout. Even doing 5 minutes, gradually moving up to 10 or 20, three times weekly is enough to improve balance and provide other benefits. And you might notice less pain in your knees too.

Improving by Moving Backwards?

Marg Bartosek

I teach people to move younger as they age, tapping into greater ease and comfort in daily activities as well as enhanced safety, independence, and well-being. I also provides specialized resources for people living with Parkinson's disease. For more information or ask questions, please submit the Contact Form at https://margbartosek.com/contact-me/

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