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Last Updated: July 23, 2023
Walking is an excellent form of exercise that has proven health benefits. Having a treadmill in your home makes walking even more accessible because you can walk at any time and even incline the treadmill to add some variety. The list can go on for the benefits of walking on a treadmill, but what about the benefits of walking backwards on a treadmill?
Obviously walking is a common form of movement that most people can do, so walking backwards can seem out of the ordinary, especially on a treadmill. With the right treadmill and precautions in place though, walking backwards can be very helpful in improving not only your gait but your health overall. Walking backwards isn’t for everyone, so it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have mobility and balance issues. If it’s right for you though, it’s definitely worth trying.
Improves Mobility and Balance
Walking backwards on a treadmill definitely requires more concentration than walking forward. Walking backwards isn’t as natural of a motion as walking, but it can help to improve your mobility, balance, and range of motion. With increased concentration and focus on your movement, you can focus on your balance and stride. Plus, as you improve and walk backwards more often, this practice has been shown to improve your walking performance and speed.
Your mobility and range of motion, especially in your knees and hips can improve with walking backwards because it requires more extension in your hips and knees.
Works Muscles Differently
Walking backwards on a treadmill reverses the motion thus changing how and which muscles are activated and used. This movement on a treadmill recruits more of your anterior chain which is the front muscles of your body, especially in the legs. The quads are lengthened rather than shortened like they are when walking forward. The opposite happens to the hamstrings on the backs of the legs.
Changing up the way your muscles work is a good way to help avoid overtraining and injury. It’s important to keep the muscles balanced and equally worked so certain muscles don’t get overused or strained.
Is A Good Way To Workout
Walking is a good way to get your heart rate up and strengthen your cardiovascular system. While you might not be able to walk backward quite as fast as you can walk forward, it is still a good way to get in a little cardio. Walking is a lighter impact activity than running, so it can be more forgiving on the joints.
Walking Backwards On A Treadmill Is Safer
Walking backwards on a treadmill can also be safer than walking backwards outside. For starters, treadmills have handles on either side of the deck to hang on to when you need to catch your balance. Unless you’re reverse walking near a wall or fence outside, you won’t have something within reach to grab to help keep you from falling.
Treadmills also have safety keys which help keep you safe while using the treadmill. As you should clip the end of the safety key to your clothing while walking and running, you should also do this while walking backwards. If you fall and the key is pulled from the treadmill, the belt will immediately stop so you won’t be thrown to the back of the deck.
And just like outside, you can vary your speed on a treadmill. You can adjust the pace of the belt to as slow or as fast as you’re capable of walking backwards. Most treadmills also incline so you can adjust the grade of the belt to activate your muscles and increase your fitness even more.
Improves Health and Fitness
Movement in general, whether forward or backward is a great way to improve your overall health and fitness. It is always a good idea to move your body and walking backwards is a great way to do this. It comes with all the same health benefits as normal walking, along with all of the other amazing benefits that I mentioned.
How To Walk Backwards On A Treadmill
When you first start walking backwards on a treadmill, you want to make sure that you’re comfortable and familiar with walking forward on the treadmill. It’s important that you know how to work the treadmill and how to adjust and stop the belt.
Once you’re familiar with the treadmill, stand on the deck while it’s not moving. Clip the safety key to your clothing and hold onto the side handles. When you’re ready, press start and make sure the treadmill beings moving at a slow speed of less than 2 mph (most treadmills have a slow starting speed of 0.5-1 mph).
Depending on your balance, mobility, and fitness level, you might be able to increase the speed a little bit. If you feel like you need to catch your balance, keep holding onto the side handles and start taking steps backward at the slow starting speed. You might want to peek down at your feet while walking backwards, just make sure you don’t slouch or slump over while doing this. When you’re comfortable, you can let go of the side handles and even work on increasing the speed slightly over time. You might even be able to work up to a jogging or running pace as you progress.
Make sure you only do what you’re comfortable with and as I mentioned before, consult your healthcare provider if you’re new to working out, recovering from an injury, or if you have balance and mobility issues.