Walking is one of the first things we learn to do in life - we put one foot in front of the other and move straight ahead. But is it possible we've been doing it wrong all this time? While walking forward is and will forever be the easiest, safest and fastest way of getting from A to B, scientists suggest that there is room to shake things up when it comes to walking for health and fitness purposes. Walking backward can help you maximize the well-known benefits of walking and challenge your mind and body in a new way. Think we sound crazy? Read on to hear us out...
Considering how long ago we perfected the art of walking, it makes sense that we do it without thinking - letting our minds wander while we effortlessly navigate our way. By walking backward, we are forcing our brains to focus on the updated coordination task, linking the visual-vestibular and proprioceptive systems in a whole new way. This guarantees we stay present, keeping our minds well-oiled to function.
In addition to keeping our minds sharp, walking backward can work wonders on our physical health as well. Studies have found a link between this alternative way of walking and an improvement in a person's stability and balance. This research explained that walking backward means we take smaller, more frequent steps, strengthening the lower leg muscles and decreasing the workload for our joints. These changes can offer relief to those with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, chronic lower back pain, and chronic stroke. It's also been proven that walking backward requires more energy, resulting in greater weight loss than regular walking.
If you're convinced and willing to try backward walking, we suggest getting in some practice indoors. Considering your vision will be severely impaired, ensure the room is flat and clear of obstacles before beginning. As tempting as it may be to look over your shoulder, focus your efforts ahead, keeping your head and chest up while stepping back from your big toe to your heel. As your confidence increases, so will your pace!