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Hey, STOP! You could be running the wrong way...

Could you be running the wrong way? What way is that? That way is forward.  New research is looking at the effects of backwards running and the impact that it has on skeletal muscular development and neurological control mechanisms.

"Steps Forward in Understanding Backward Gait: From Basic Circuits to Rehabilitation"

Running backwards has recently become popular in training for sport as well as rehabilitation from injury.  The article looked at the link between forward running and backwards running and whether training one way would impact the other.

Backwards running can be used in some sport specific training such as football (defensive backs), tennis, basketball or any other sport where backwards locomotion is warranted.

In rehabilitation it has many advantages over forward running.  Running backwards allows the individual to avoid heel strikes, which increase impact and pressure on the knees.  In addition to reducing the knee load, backwards running can help improve ACL instability in previously injured individuals.  Backwards running can also help improve muscle imbalances between the quadriceps and the hamstrings. In addition to the bio-mechanical benefits there are also additional cardiopulmonary benefits that are associated with backwards running.  The backwards training did not show conclusive evidence that the same improvements in training would translate to forward training, suggesting that backwards running is mediated by different control circuitry than forward running.  More research is necessary.

The downside to running backwards is that visibility is impaired and running backwards indoors and outdoors can be difficult and dangerous.  If the proper conditions are met, backwards training can help individuals rehab from injuries as well as improve sport performance.

If one is to try training backwards, I would suggest a progressive approach.  Start off walking backwards for short distances, such as up and down the driveway or the sidewalk. Since running backwards for a long distance outdoors is difficult, it would probably be best to attempt this on an outdoor or indoor (if permitted) track. Gradually increase speed as you become comfortable with the backwards training. I would also suggest wearing a bicycle helmet to protect your head if you are actually going to try this.

I am intrigued by this concept and may give it a try once the weather breaks and trainer outdoors can resume.



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