Find out how little time you really need to walk backwards on a treadmill to reap benefits.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time walking backwards on a treadmill to experience positive results.
I do this all the time. As a former personal trainer for a large gym, I fully endorse this type of movement.
Only a few minutes will cause a training effect. Yes, a few minutes.
Let’s look at what Edmund R. Burke says about backwards exercise.
He’s director of the exercise science program of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, and he believes that this type of movement is not a practical way for losing weight or getting in shape.
I don’t recommend walking backwards on a treadmill to lose weight, either.
However, Burke is mistaken when he discounts this as part of a get-in-shape program.
Why do I walk backwards on a treadmill?
It produces a different pattern of neuromuscular recruitment.
It shakes things up a little for my body.
I’ll walk backwards on the treadmill at 4 mph and really pump my arms, and I do this for only a few minutes at the conclusion of a traditional workout on the machine.
A few minutes are you need of backwards walking to promote growth of new neuro-connections.
This type of movement also improves balance and coordination, but only if you don’t hold on.
Obese Woman in Her 50’s Improves Walking by Walking Backwards on a Treadmill
I had an obese client in her 50s do slow backwards walking, without holding on, and over time, this improved her gait considerably.
If you feel as though you’ll fall off, start out very slowly. Holding on causes bad posture in many cases, and in all cases, unnatural posture and body position.
Observe someone walking backwards who’s holding on. Their posture is terrible. Letting go makes you stand tall and square.
Burke also says, ”Since you don’t have eyes in back of your head it’s an awkward way to move.”
An awkward feel to an exercise is nothing new; lots of exercises feel awkward. Does that mean we shouldn’t do them? Wall-sits are awkward. So are mountain climbers.
In fact, many exercises feel awkward, including floor bridges. Yet these moves are effective.
Benefits of walking backward on treadmill: gets different muscle fibers involved; promotes improved balance; strengthens ankles; forces correct posture when you don’t hold on.
Drawbacks: I can’t think of any, quite frankly, other than some treadmills might spontaneously stop while you’re walking backwards because the machine can somehow sense that the user is moving the “wrong” way. However, I’ve never actually heard of this.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.