Is there a difference between walking forwards and walking backwards?

Forward walking and walking backwards differ significantly in their gait patterns. In forward walking, the typical motion involves the leg swinging through the air, the heel landing first, followed by a slight knee bend as you roll from heel to toes. Simultaneously, the opposite leg rolls from toes to the air, creating a heel-to-toe motion that characterizes normal walking.

On the other hand, reverse walking introduces an opposite gait process. Here, the leg swings through the air and reaches backward with a bent knee. The toes make contact with the ground, and the bent knee straightens as you roll from toes to heel. Subsequently, the heel leaves the ground with a straight knee, and this toe-to-heel gait pattern repeats.

What are the benefits of walking backwards?

Improved Range of Motion (ROM): Practising walking backwards helps enhance the range of motion in the knee, hip, and ankle joints. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with arthritis, knee injuries, or those recovering from surgery.

Quadriceps Strength: The quadriceps, the muscles on the front of your thighs, play a crucial role in straightening your knee. Walking backward activates these muscles, contributing to improved strength.

Hamstring Flexibility: Tight hamstrings can be a common issue. Walking backward engages the hamstrings as they contract to bend the knee, promoting flexibility in these muscles.

Enhanced Mobility: Retro walking challenges the lower extremities in a unique way, promoting better overall mobility. It can be especially useful for individuals undergoing rehabilitation after injuries or surgeries.

Balance and Stability: Reverse walking engages different muscles and challenges your balance, contributing to improved stability. This can be particularly helpful for older adults or individuals with balance issues.

How can I practice walking backwards safely?

As with any exercise practising it safely is important. Make sure you are in a space with minimal obstacles to avoid tripping or bumping into objects and which has a steady support to hand. The kitchen counter is perfect.

Begin at a slow and controlled pace. Take small steps to maintain balance and control and have one hand on the support. You only need to start with 2 – 3 steps. Stop completely before turning around.

Why is this important for Falls Prevention?

The ability to confidently take a step back is important if you are ever in a situation where you need to move out of the way – maybe if someone opens a door into you or a trolley bangs into you in the supermarket.

So, if you want to add an exercise to your routine, don’t forget to take a step back – literally. Embrace the benefits of walking backward, and discover improved mobility, strength, and overall well-being.

If you would like to add walking backwards to your exercise regime but aren’t sure how then get in contact.

Why Walking Backwards can be good for your health and brain

The post Step Back: The Hidden Benefits of Walking Backwards appeared first on Whole Life Fitness.



Having worked in IT in London for 15 years I was made redundant in 2009. I had trained as a gym instructor whilst working and decided I would rather spend the rest of my career doing something I loved than look for another job in IT. I furthered my qualifications with a Certificate in Advanced Personal Training from the highly regarded Premier Training. Many personal trainers are generalists covering all areas of fitness but I took the decision to specialise in the over-50s and therefore went on to do a CYQ Award in Functional Training for the Independent Older Adult Level 3. My focus is on overall health rather than fitness. I believe that making small changes can have a long term positive effect on health and well-being.