4 Reasons We Should Walk & Jog Backward

Girl running backwards on a track towards sunset

At Alexandria Wellness, we are huge fans of daily walks for your wellness and your fitness. Not only is it great for our bodies to get outside and move, walking also has numerous positive effects on our mental health. Sunlight exposure boosts serotonin and vitamin D, but beyond that, research shows that walking outside also boosts your immune system.

Today, though, we are talking about walking backward.

Girl running backwards on a track towards sunset

Both walking and jogging can be great supplements to your strength training program, yet the constant forward motion can wreak havoc on our neck, back, knees (hence the term “runner’s knee”), and overall posture. Most of us sit much of the day, leaning forward, looking at a computer screen emphasizing “tech neck.” We also drive and again practice not-the-best posture and round the tops of our backs – again emphasizing the forward motion of our body. And, let’s all admit it, our posture isn’t always perfect.

Walking backward demonstrated by Adrien Cotton of Alexandria Wellness.

Over time, the overuse of the same muscle groups day after day while sitting, walking, or jogging can lead to pesky injuries and cause us to be sidelined from our exercise of choice or daily activities. The forward-leaning motion is intrinsic to the way our bodies position themselves.

For this reason, I love to mix backward walking and jogging into my program and would love for you to give it a whirl. It may sound silly, and it looks even sillier. So, prepare yourself for lots of second looks from other walkers and joggers and drivers.

SKipping backward demonstrated by Adrien Cotton of Alexandria Wellness.

Yet there are a variety of benefits to changing the direction you move every day. I am also big on sideways walking, yet I’ll start with this one first!

Start slowly and make sure you are in a safe space like a track or field with an even surface so that you don’t run into anyone or anything.

Here are four reasons backward walking and jogging can improve your fitness:

Jogging backward demonstrated by Adrien Cotton of Alexandria Wellness.
  1. Improves posture. Walking and jogging backward reverses a forward-leaning posture and slouched/sloped back/head position. When we walk or run backward, we tend to remain more “upright.” In short, it can drastically improve and straighten our postureā€¦ just one small step at a time!
  2. Works different muscle groups. We utilize different muscles in our legs when we go backward as opposed to going forward. When we run forward, we primarily use the muscles on the backside of our body to propel us forward (hamstrings and glutes), while backward running strengthens the muscles on the front of our body (quadriceps and shins). Engaging both the front and back of our bodies helps to prevent dominance in one or the other.

  3. Our foot strikes the ground differently. When we walk or run forward, our heel strikes the ground first, followed by the ball of our foot and finally our toes. When going backward, the ball of our foot and our toes generally strike the ground first, followed by our heel. The latter puts less stress on our knees and can be helpful for both injury prevention and injury rehabilitation.

  4. Slows us down. We all know we can’t run as fast backward as we can forward. This forces us to slow down, think about what we are doing, and focus on our form and the task at hand. We are less capable of thinking about daily stressors like that upcoming work deadline or that news article we read that morning.

We want to help you (and your team!) take charge of your health and wellness. Here are two ways you can get started today. If you are interested in any of our newest programs, like our latest special for our small group fitness program, email us at alicia@alexandriawellness.com.

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In Strength,
Adrien