Reverse Running: What to Know Before Giving It Up

As a top trending activity last year, reverse running is gaining momentum in the fitness world Hailed as a way to reduce the chance of common runner injuries, burn more calories and improve posture, this technique is set to unlock a plethora of benefits by placing your feet in opposite directions. Done right, reverse running can add variety to a routine and level up any workout!

Simply put, reverse running is running backwards. It can also be called retro-running. Regardless, this is the opposite of the standard, forward strategy we all know. Reverse running can take place outdoors or indoors, but each environment comes with specific precautions for safe riding.

Here are some things to know before you give it a go.

Is reverse running safe?

It can be – but it takes focus, practice and the right technique. Because we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads and changes in perspective can affect balance, running backwards can increase the risk of falls and other injuries.

However, “reverse running is safe as long as certain conditions are used,” says Melissa Prescipino, doctor of physical therapy and owner of Maze & Blue Rehab in Sparta, New Jersey. As such, it’s best to first learn how to run backwards and get your bearings on a track or other level and predictable surface. With the risk of tripping over rocks or potholes and other trip hazards removed, you can train your body to move to help reduce the risk of injury.

Advantage of running backs

Although it is currently trending, reverse racing is not a fad. There is research to support the merits of running backs. A key benefit is how reverse running engages and emphasizes muscles and muscle groups not typically used in forward running or other physical activities. This can reduce stress on overused muscles in regular runners. And there’s more:

High energy expenditure. Because it’s an unusual motion, reverse running requires the muscles to work harder, requiring more energy. A study in Procedural biological research It has been found that running backwards can burn about 30 percent more calories than regular running.

Injury recovery. Reverse running can be a way to help people with injuries get back on track. “Runners experience many injuries due to repetitive stress using the forward technique,” notes Prescipino. He also explains that running backwards can help your body adjust because it stresses different muscle groups, ligaments and tendons.

For this reason, running backwards is often recommended for people with knee injuries. A study in Journal of Biomechanics It has been found that running forward can put less stress on the knee joints than running forward. As with any activity, consult a health professional to determine what type of activity is right for your body.

Better posture. Reverse running is a practice to perfect posture. “Yes, reverse running requires you to have better posture, to stand up straighter so that there is more support from all the muscles around your spine,” explains Dr. Prescipino. It can help promote better balance when performed successfully and regularly.

Beat boredom and burnout. Adding reverse running to your regimen can make your workouts more interesting because it adds variety and presents a different challenge.

Although reverse running can be done safely, there are some additional risks.. In addition to the risk of falling and other injuries, running backwards will inevitably slow you down a bit. And because you still have to see where you’re going, you’ll tend to twist around, which can affect the neck and spine over time — so running in reverse for extended periods of time isn’t recommended.

Getting started and taking precautions

Adding reverse running to your routine can be a win! Remember, it’s best to start small.

Start on a flat surface, such as an indoor or outdoor track. Another option is to use a treadmill. It offers handrail support, but it’s important to be aware of speed. If you choose the treadmill, go slowly. Use whatever speed you can maintain. “If you go faster than your running speed can handle, you could lose your balance or fall,” warns Dr. Prescipino.

Instead of running as many miles or the same mileage as you normally would, fitness experts recommend adding quick intervals to your regular routine. You can start with intervals of just 30 seconds at a time and increase your time or frequency and duration from there.

Once you feel confident in your ability to run backwards on a flat surface, you can take it up a notch by running backwards uphill, or what’s called retrograde running, for more of a challenge.

In any case, keep safety in mind. During the winter months or when there is a risk of rain, ice, snow or other inclement weather, using an indoor surface is essential for safety. Wear supportive running shoes with good tread or cross-training shoes for shorter runs. If it’s time to upgrade or replace your old running shoes, do so before you try adding reverse running to your workout routine.

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