Tired of your same old walk and thinking of adding a bit of pep in your step? If yes, then try retro walking, which simply means walking backwards. It is a bit unconventional, but surprisingly has many benefits. It challenges your muscles in a unique way which helps burn a few more calories, along with strengthening your knees, cognitive skills and more! This type of walking engages many of the same muscle groups as walking forward but in a different way. The distinct muscle groups involved are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. They work in a manner that enhances muscle balance and strength, as well as coordination, fostering improved spatial awareness and proprioception. It can be a great low impact exercise that is challenging and rewarding with all the above-mentioned benefits. Plus, it involves less stress on certain joints than a higher impact activity, but may yield similar intensity because of the nature of the exercise in itself. Maintaining an upright posture, heightened spatial awareness to avoid obstacles, more demand on coordination, mental and muscle stimulation because of the unfamiliar or uncommon movement involved, are all things that make intensity and heart rate go up.
Retro walking is occasionally incorporated into rehabilitation programs, because of the unique range of motion and muscle activation. Also, for those experiencing knee problems, retro walking can be an excellent activity. It can help strengthen the knees in comparison to walking forward as it places less impact. By challenging the muscles in this unique way, it can be an effective strategy in targeting and strengthening the muscles supporting the knee joint. Promoting a more controlled range of motion, ultimately contributing to improved knee stability and function. It works due to the altered muscle engagement and movement patterns involved. When walking backward, the quadriceps, located at the front of the thigh, are actively engaged in extending the knee against resistance, placing emphasis on the eccentric contraction of these muscles. This controlled lengthening of the quadriceps during the backward movement helps build strength and stability around the knee joint. Additionally, the hamstrings play a crucial role in controlling the backward swing of the leg, contributing to a balanced development of the muscles surrounding the knee, while the calves assist in this backward propulsion. As with any new exercise, it’s essential to start gradually and pay attention to your surroundings. Due to the uniqueness of retro walking, to start it could be beneficial to go with a buddy, or use something tangible like a railing, to not only help navigate your way but to keep your balance to avoid a possible stumble.
Finally, adding variety to exercise routines, retro walking provides an interesting and enjoyable alternative for those looking to diversify their fitness regimens. Like most exercise, once it becomes easy you can level it up, by adding hills, increasing speed or even bring it into a jog. Change is good for the body as when nothing changes, nothing changes and the body is really good at becoming complacent and using the least path of resistance. It’s a built-in mechanism to conserve energy, but challenging our bodies is healthy as it makes them stronger and more efficient.
If wanting to change your routine but not sure where to start, let us at DEEM Health, help you.
Mikkie Pollon (Nettles),
Certified Personal Trainer/
Holistic & Sports Nutritionist
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