Yes, you did read the title correctly! Backwards is the way forwards, It may sound like a daft thing to do, but taken seriously running backwards can be a potent weapon in your training and research has shown that it has massive potential in areas of fitness, well-being and rehabilitation. If you’re looking to reduce the risk of injury and a stronger more balanced challenging workout then here are 10 benefits of running backwards.
Even the most hardened of runners have to mix up their training to reduce boredom but also to prevent their body from adapting to the same exercises and movements over long periods. By mixing running backwards into your exercise regime you will still get all the following health benefits but your mind will be more engaged, and its great fun when competing in a group exercise. It is now no longer, just another run!
When running forward runners tend to slouch, at the waist you can bend forward which contributes to poor running form and over the miles this poor form will turn into pain and injury. Running backwards requires you to keep good posture, standing more upright and your spine is supported by all the surrounding muscles, importantly running backwards helps you maintain this good form and posture throughout your run.
Running backwards engages your abdominal muscles, providing you with an on the go ab workout. Great huh! When running forward, alluding to the posture title above, your lower back takes most of the load, but turning around and running backwards creates a reaction for your abdominal muscles and your lower back gets some well needed rest.
If you work out with resistant training a solid workout programme would include working opposing muscle groups to develop your whole body evenly. Although, when running you repeatedly workout the same muscle groups over and over. Running backwards adjusts this repetition and helps you develop muscles opposite to the muscle groups predominately required to run forward. Backward running places the emphasis on additional muscles that help with overall even muscle development.
Runners experience many injuries due to repetitive strain, trying to maintain fitness and keep up the cardio very often tempts you to carry on running. This of course requires the tradition forward motion and technique; however by running backwards you may find that your body adjusts to using a different technique, placing the emphasis on different muscle groups, ligaments and tendons. This adjustment provides a well needed break for injured or weak areas of your body such as knees, heels, and ankles. Alternatively, mixing up forward and backward running can help to prevent injuries over longer periods of time as you are balancing the type of muscle groups used and the technique required to use them.
Running backwards encourages you to develop other sense required to stay upright, to stay balanced and stay safe. Without fully relying on sight you are forced to listen more attentively, improve your balance and develop your peripheral vision. This way of running may also improve the body’s ability to sense movement within joints and joint positions; again this supports the development of using different muscles and techniques to improve performance.
Depending on what your goals are within health and fitness I’m sure the majority of use are aiming to burn calories and keep our body fat down. Running backwards can help you burn approximately 20% more calories than when you run forwards. In total not only can you burn more calories overall but if you continue to run the same amount of time your workout then becomes more efficient and time saving. Melt more calories in the same amount of time, sounds good to me!
Running backwards provides a strong cardio vascular workout, because you are using more muscle groups, your feet hit the ground quicker expelling more energy to move the body. Research by the University of Oregon showed that VO2 (oxygen consumption) and heart rate significantly increase during backward running (1). It is therefore unsurprising when people claim that running backwards for just one lap of a track could be equivalent to up to six laps of forward running. Think of the time you could save!
Running backwards enables you to become fitter due to improving your oxygen consumption, but it also makes you faster. The reverse motion allows the body to tone muscles quicker and more efficiently, strengthening foot muscles and improving posture. By targeting posterior muscles this is a great way to tone and strengthen your calves, hamstrings, glutes and back overall, regardless of your training regime and fitness goals.
Running backwards is a great psychological lift for anyone tired or fed up of their exercise routine and structure. By adding an exciting and varied element to your workout can make all the difference to enjoyment and turning up again the next day. As we know, variety is the spice of life!
You may not necessarily need to run backwards every time you head out, but certainly mixing this technique into your training programme will help take your health and fitness to a new level. There is no better scene to experience the benefits of backwards running than in the vast open spaces of Chiang Mai, Thailand. Fresh Start boot camp incorporates all of these benefits to ensure you meet your health and fitness targets.