This is the first post in a new series I’m calling Try Something New, designed to introduce a new food, health tidbit, trend or topic and get your neurons firing about exploring a new experience.
Backward running may go by many names: reverse running, retro running, even retro locomotion, but yes, it’s actually what it sounds like: running backwards.
Backward running is considered a “retro” movement not because it started in the 1970s, but because it’s the opposite of how our bodies normally move. And though it may be a new idea for many of us, it’s not new as a sport. In fact, there are world records for it dating back to the 19th century!
You’ll probably catch the attention of passerby but running backwards has some awesome health benefits. It can help improve your balance, cardiac efficiency and posture. It may also burn more calories and heighten your senses (since you can’t rely on sight, hearing and peripheral vision senses tend to take on a key role). It’s been used in physiotherapy to help rehabilitate patients with various acute and chronic injuries.
Are you game to try backward running? Unless you have eyes in the back of your head (like some of our moms!), safety is obviously a major concern.
Here are a few tips to keep you safe:
1. Start slow by walking instead of running. Your body will need time to adjust to moving in a different direction—it’s a feeling that feels a bit strange at first—especially since it is the opposite of how we normal move.
2. Practice on a running track at a local school. Tracks are great because there are no cars, trees or holes to trip you up. Tracks also have painted lines, which can help us stay on course. Other great locations are sandy beaches and areas with a lot of grass because you may wobble or fall a few times until your body adapts to these new movements.
3. If you can’t practice on a track, choose a familiar location with a predictable surface and walk it beforehand to familiarize yourself with the layout and any obstacles that may be around.
4. Consider running with a buddy. Beyond the usual benefits of having an accountability partner, you can take turns moving backwards and keep your eyes open for any trees your buddy might wander into! Bonus tip: Don’t run on busy roads or highways, especially when you’re just starting out. I don’t think I need to tell you why! Adding some backward running into your usual exercise routine can give your body the variety it craves and motivate you to keep up your regular running habit.
Have you ever ran or walked backwards? What did you like or not like about it?