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Backwards Walking is the Latest Fitness Craze

A man demonstrates how to complete a walking backwards routine on a treadmill.
Source: Infofit - Fitness Career College/YouTube

Could this oddball workout style that’s taking over your Reels and FYPs have some weight to it?

Fitness enthusiasts and personal trainers alike are getting behind backward walking…and there are a surprising amount of benefits to the practice. Here’s what you need to know about backward walking (accompanying “hot girl walking” on socials) to help you get the most out of the practice.

This current “trend” might become evergreen pretty soon. People have been going viral for “backwards walking workouts” for over a year now, and many have been personally doing the practice far longer than that.

Why? Allegedly, walking backward can help to strengthen your typically-unused muscles that support your joints, per health experts cited by the New York Post. The expert, known as Kali.OT on Instagram, also highlights the increased stability gym fans can enjoy by incorporating backwards walking as a consistent part of their workout.

Other benefits have been clinically recognized, specifically in specialty journals (like the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research.) A recent entry highlights the benefit of backwards (or, retro) walking for those living with osteoarthritis of the knee. The journal entry also recognized the reduced compressive stress that backwards walking places on the “patella-femoral joint,” or where your knee meets your thigh bone — or, femur.

Per the journal, this leads to less pain and improved function — even more so than you’d see with higher-impact exercises like running.

Expert and personal trainer Michael Hamlin confirmed these findings to Bustle per the New York Post, noting that walking backwards was a fantastic quadriceps workout and that it can “improve balance and proprioception [as well].” This directly impacts someone’s spatial awareness and coordination.

This means that you’re not only working out your body — you’re keeping your brain sharp with a mental workout that can have numerous beneficial effects for you later on. For example: You’ll improve your focus and concentration, and you’ll also be practicing a new motor skill — engaging your brain in a fresh, new way.

Is it difficult to do? Many online report that it is pretty awkward to try at first, per the New York Post. After all, you’ve likely been walking in a forward motion for most of your life. The solution? The news outlet recommends starting in small bursts, working up to just a few seconds at a time at first.

Expert Grayson Wickham first went on record with CNN and was quoted by the Post, stating that the exercise can support your body’s overall level of vitality and flexibility due to the skills that you naturally practice as a result.

Walking backwards requires you to shift your posture, for example — and “the body adapts to the positions and movements and postures you do most often,” Wickham confirmed. This natural challenge can interrupt the typical cycle of tight joints and compensation, which can lead to pain and injury later on.


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