One of the most beneficial exercises one can perform in the gym is walking backwards on a treadmill. Most of the orthopeadic injuries that we see in physical therapy are caused by repetitive motions that are always done the same way thousands of times a day, like walking forward. In order to address major musculoskeletal dysfunctions or muscle imbalances it is necessary to change the way we move. Walking backwards changes the reactions and demands on the body and creates an environment that stimulates tissue lengthening and muscle imbalance correction. Some common dysfucntions that can be corrected by walking backwards include:
Lower back pain: If a persons lower back pain is caused by an imbalance known as "flat back" syndrome (often caused by tight hamstrings) walking backwards can restore the normal lumbar lordosis(curvature) and reduce stress on discs and other structures in the spine.
Stiff Big Toe: As we age it is common for a stiff big toe to occur which can be very painful . Walking backwards can stimulate the toe to bend more into extension and eventually create more joint mobility.
Prevent Ankle Sprains: There have been many studies that have shown that walking backwards uphill on a 7-10% incline reduces the risk for ankle sprains. This is because the ankle of the treadmill forces our ankles to plantarflex which is the position 90% of ankle sprains occur. In this position our ankles are unstable and by walking backwards it creates an opportunity of instability and our bodies eventually become stronger in that position.
The list could go on forever. For more information on walking backwards and injury prevention or treatment of nagging injuries please contact Andrew Gorecki, DPT at Superior Physical Therapy in Traverse City, MI. 231.944.6541