Running in Reverse

Cycle backwards while riding a non-fixed gear bike and you’ll come to a stop, probably fall and meet the pavement. Try running backwards and you may not fall straight away, but if you’re in a city or even a remotely urbanised town, you’ll certainly run into trouble. Nevertheless, if you can find the ideal setting and environment to perform this exercise, you will begin to notice the benefits or running backwards almost immediately!

An Introduction to Running in Reverse

Usually reserved as a humorous alternative to the ever-popular charity fun run, running backwards is gaining traction as a genuine workout routine. Just because something isn’t the current norm, doesn’t mean it should be discredited without even giving it a try. Even if passers-by do look slightly bemused.

backwards running health benefits - PhysioLeeds

Backwards running isn’t an eyebrow raising routine in China. Walking is more common but the act of propelling yourself backwards for exercise is practiced by many, especially the elderly. In the West, the routine didn’t emerge in sport until the 1970s when notable names such as boxer Gene Tunney ran backwards as part of his training regime.

Today, there are regular events hosted up and down the UK dedicated to those who like to run backwards!

Where to Begin?

Since then, backwards running has evolved into a unique sport with distance record holders for varying lengths including 1000m, half marathons, marathons and more. The knowledge and science behind the act has grown as a result. Our understanding of the most efficient actions to practice in order to perform the most effective backwards run is as follows.

Start off by locating a safe place free from traffic, obstacles and if you’re easily embarrassed, other people. An athletics track for example. Begin by positioning yourself in an athletic stance and take a backwards step separating the legs by an equal stride. Arms held tightly below the body, walk backwards at a slow pace. Gradually increase the speed until you are comfortable, keeping your shoulders over your feet and remembering to regularly take a moment to check behind you.

When running backwards, you should push off the floor from the ball of your foot and reach back as far as possible with your leg, activating your gluteus muscles for increased momentum. Utilising your ankle joint, attempt to perform a soft landing with each stride taken. If this is causing you discomfort, you may benefit from a sports massage focusing on areas which help the ball of the foot, calves or Achilles tendons function optimally, without discomfort or pain.

Why Should You Run Backwards?

Extremely versatile, there are a surprisingly extensive amount of reasons for running backwards. Burning calories is one of the primary reasons why people run or jog. Running backwards actually burns more calories than traditional running, great to know for anyone who has a tight schedule, without the time to run long distances!

Research suggests backward runners enjoy an improved cardiovascular system, improving oxygenation and the increased effort required to run backwards builds up speed and stamina. Backwards running can remedy recurrent issues between anterior and posterior muscles, improving posture as you are required to stand further upright without slouching the head.

Avoid Unwanted Aches and Pains

Performing exercises even when troubled with a common injury is possible with backwards running. Because the ankle, hamstring, knee, groin and Achilles tendon and any subsequent injuries to the aforementioned regions aren’t stimulated when running backwards. Running backwards can even help mediate shin splits.

For other injuries and to support the benefits of backwards running, attending regular sports massage appointments will help the body recover and become more resistant to injury. This is due to increased flexibility and joint mobility. By massaging deep into the muscles, we can realign muscle fibres and connective tissue, increase circulation, remodel scar tissue and help reduce pain and anxiety. Why not contact us today to see how we can help you?