Challenge yourself.....walking backwards on the treadmill is said to burn 20% greater calories, improve your balance and be good for your brain – so why not give it a try.
The key, of course, is to start slow and not hold onto the railings. Start at 1.0 –
1.5 to get the feeling and progress slowly eventually adding an incline. You
will feel how this method of exercise utilizes your muscles differently engaging your quads and calves greatly; you are landing on the ball of your foot instead of heel; and definitely focusing on your postural muscles.
Of course, I couldn’t write about this without experimenting with it a few days. After my normal treadmill interval routine there is a 5 minute cool down so I took those five minutes to do some backward walking. I have been able to increase the speed to 2.2 in just 2 days and noticed that although I am walking so slowly backwards my heart rate was averaging about 75% HRM – not a cool down rate – and it kept me interested and not wanting to jump off.
There is a plethora of information on the internet about “heel striking versus forefoot striking” – one of the main points of heel striking is the degree of compression it puts on our joints – one article quotes “the impact force to be 1.5 – 3 times your body weight traveling through the heel, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and neck.”
There is also the new craze of “minimalist foot wear” for running and hiking that boasts about the landing of the forefoot through the arches to the heel, with Dr. Oz a big proponent of this type of footwear.
The conclusion is that no matter what your fitness level is you can incorporate this forefoot landing and experience the difference. The beginner will start with backward walking, adding an incline and speed, the more advanced may try some backwards running on a track or the new minimalist footwear…it is said that the Japanese have incorporated this method since the 40’s and tout that “100 steps backward walking is equivalent to 1,000 steps conventional walking”. The
benefits realized in the practice of backwards walking/running, in addition to
balance and caloric, include an increased awareness in vision and hearing –