A natural way of going about the state of existence that which at once also serves as one of the most basic forms of exercise while being a mode of commute and therefore one of functionality, walking is something all able bodied humans and animals come to develop as an innate yet learned skill early on in life. Apart from the essential function of it to help us go the distance and traverse the world and so on and so forth, albeit in all its accompanying limitations arising from the physical thresholds of many a factors, walking is encouraged as a routine to adhere to even in the times of today where we can very possibly go about with our day, at least a continuous 24 hours without feeling the necessity to set foot on the ground. That is indeed because of the many benefits that the action of walking brings upon us, impacting everything from basic sustenance and core health to more advanced physical complications and related issues. But while the norm we know and follow and learn is indeed to walk in the way that all living organisms do, by putting one foot after the other so that we move forward, it is quite surprising that walking backwards, or what is known as reverse or retro walking or retro pedaling is also another alternative mode of this action that can be relied on primarily for its more wholesome benefits for the individual. By simply being a more conscious mode of walking, reverse walking tends to be more beneficial for the human body that however needs to be of course practised with more awareness about safety since it isn’t the most natural of the walking trails embarked upon by any living organism.
And yet, despite it being indeed somewhat eccentric a practice to match steps with, reverse walking is not any modern health fad propagated by some fitness enthusiast or medical guru forever on the lookout for eking out a trend of their own that would catch up with the masses. Walking backwards in fact is quite an exercise rooted in tradition, as traditional Chinese medicine has been known to long ‘prescribe’ this form of exerting the legs for the range of physical and mental benefits it endows upon the individual. The Chinese belief that walking a hundred steps backwards is equivalent to taking a thousand steps forwards, emphasising the enormous way in which this alternative mode of walking can come to impact upon human health. Also closely associated with Chinese philosophical and religious principles is reverse walking, believed to help restore the balance of life energy or life force, or what is known as Qui while helping with spiritual wellness. No wonder that with such holistic benefits that retro walking encompasses, it has emerged to assume importance in the ever more enthusiastically aware world of the present times.
The most obvious reason why walking backwards can be a more efficient exercise in balance is simply because of it being the offbeat response to the natural mode of forward moving. In ambling along a direction that is completely opposite to what the body is used to in movement, what you are doing is not just startling your body’s understanding of balance but also your mind’s awareness of it. As a form of balance exercise therefore, reverse walking helps you achieve a greater coordination in what your body is doing and how the mind responds to it. It helps to strengthen the body’s capacity in stability because when you tend to move backwards rather than forwards, the change in direction will force your body to match up to the pace of this unexpected occurrence. Over time as you continue to make backward waking a routine of your life, you will end up bettering your physical balance as well as your mental consciousness of it.
An offshoot of this increased awareness of the mind brought about by reverse walking is its extension over the realms of the other senses that are as crucial in living the normal human life. The increased call for attention necessitated by a switch in a direction the body is not accustomed to impacts also the brain muscles and necessitates a sharper perception of such changes as a result of which your thinking ability receives a substantial boost. Walking in reverse has also been found to bolster short term memory and enhance cognitive control since by stimulating the brain in a very unique manner.
Also associated is an improvement in vision brought about by enhanced body consciousness, alleviated by such movement in a manner atypical of the daily way of life. Needless to say, reverse walking also is an exercise in reason outside your comfort zone which brings about therefore a sense of accomplishment and triggers the release of happy hormones that keep you energetic and motivated, while still content and calm. This break from routine afforded by walking in a manner that is not in conformity with the usual life cycle presents also a wonderful way out from the despair of monotonity, thus further helping your mind to reside in the zen state of existence which translates ultimately as a more enjoyable living experience even amidst the everyday ordinaries. This diversion from the usual way of life is also a great aider in persisting with the requirements of training that puts you therefore firmly on course for a fit, healthy and enriching life.
The unexpected way backward that reverse walking has you adhering to also spans such physical benefits that draw on its whole premise of being an exercise in difference. Challenging to the body in that it goes beyond the ambits of what is its normal mode of functioning, reverse walking therefore strains your body a lot more making it more effective an agent that aids a rapid burning of calories. When you walk backwards rather than forwards, your body tends to tire more simply because you are subjecting it to an unaccustomed variant of physical pressure. As a result, you get a better cardio fix as well as a greater metabolism boost from a faster pumping of the heart, enabling the body to burn more of those unwanted calories that ultimately is one of the reasons for which we make all the effort to exercise through such means as reverse walking.
Walking backwards also exercises those muscles of the legs that are not normally exerted enough under conditions of normal or forward walking. Which means that the entirety of the muscles that are located on the legs ends up getting involved in the strain of it helping therefore in strengthening them as a whole. This means then that the legs gets strengthened as well owing to the more wholesome motion of its component muscles. Not just the legs however, walking backwards helps also to relax certain other muscles located along the back of our body and which do not generally undergo the rigours of motion making them therefore more susceptible to losing their strength over time. Reverse walking effectively takes into consideration the working of all such otherwise idle muscles at the back thereby helping to relieve back pain while also potentially yielding another set of benefits for the kidneys.
Reverse walking also is known to put lesser strain on the knees which makes it therefore more suitable a coping mechanism for people afflicted by knee pain or dealing with some sort of a knee injury. By taking away the usual heel strike because it requires a lesser range of motion from the knee joints as well as by changing the pelvic alignment that can help open joints along the spine, this unnatural mode of walking further helps alleviate the conditions of back and knee pain. By strengthening the knees instead of straining them, backward walking can be a very effective promoter of knee rehabilitation.
Reverse walking also helps the physical condition of the body in a range of other ways by helping improve walking technique and form, aiding the process of maintaining a healthy weight, by strengthening the bones and boosting energy levels while also helping to boost sports performance. Together with walking forwards, reverse walking can bring about more potency to your body’s ability to mitigate unwanted health conditions provided however that safety precautions are adhered to in more greater a measure since this is an exercise in reverse that the body needs to be given adequate time to adapt to.