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Benefits of Backwards Treadmill Walking and a New Program.

Posted Jan 30 2013 10:30pm

Back in the day when I was intensely training for soccer, my strength and conditioning coach used to have us walk on the treadmill backwards on an incline with a weighted vest on.  I remember being so happy when that was the aerobic program of the day because it felt like a break from the usual intense running programs.  Looking back now that I have the knowledge to understand what was happening...yes it was on a treadmill but the focus was to improve leg strength and knee stability, not so much of an easy aerobic workout.

There are many benefits of incline backwards treadmill walking:
1) Rehabilitation of the knee, hip, hamstrings (back of the leg muscle) , quadriceps (front of the leg muscle), low back, and ankle. This form of exercise has very low impact, so it is easy on your joints. 
2) Improves knee stability. For stability and balance when walking backwards your body will naturally bend the knees slightly (almost in a small squat position), which will engage your quadriceps the entire time.
3) Improves balance.  Challenges your postural muscles to stabilize the body in a new direction.
4) Backwards walking requires more energy-burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Tips for starting:
1) Before turning around to face backwards, adjust the speed to a very comfortable, slow speed for safety.  Attempt walking backwards at 0% incline.
2) If adding an incline or changing speed, place feet on the sides of the treadmill and hold onto the railings to safely turn around.  Adjust the incline, and slow the speed.  Step on carefully, while holding on with hands.  Once you are comfortable attempt to release your hands. 
3) Keep you focus up, looking straight ahead.  By looking down you are placing yourself in poor postural alignment. 

Often times I will add this program on at the end of a run, in place of lower body exercises.  It adds some variety, and the body needs variety to continue to make positive changes.

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