Runners are always looking for the next big thing: a new running shoe, a new device that fits in your shoe that monitors just how far you run or the best way to rehydrate after a good run. Thanks to the latest studies done by scientists, we now have discovered another way to improve your running game: Backward Running.
"Backward running, also known as
retro running, is popular in Japan and in Europe. The Japanese have been
walking or running backward for centuries as part of their daily exercise. And
in Europe, you can find numerous races that are run backward, from short
sprints all the way up to marathons."
The following list was compiled by Running Addicts and illustrates the many benefits of reverse running:
1. You can still run while you are injured
There is nothing worse than knowing you can't (or shouldn't) run because of pain in an area of your body. But backward running can be done whether you have a groin, hamstring, knee, Achilles' tendon, or ankle injury. You can also continue to run if you have back pain or shin splints.
2. You will improve your muscular balance
Running backward will strengthen the opposing muscle groups that you normally work when running forward. Forward running puts a lot of pressure on the hamstrings and knees. Backward running will strengthen your calves, quads and shins to balance your muscular strength.
3. You burn more calories
It has been said that taking 100 steps backward is the same as taking 1,000 steps forward, and that going backward burns a fifth more calories than running forward. Not only is this great to enhance weight loss, but for those who are busy, going backward burns more calories in a shorter period of time. This gives everyone the chance to work out, no matter how hectic your schedule.
4. Improved leg speed and better performance
Running backward requires more effort in terms of movement because it is more difficult to move from one point to another. This effort also results in greater cardiovascular efficiency and increased stamina. Because of this, running backward may help improve your times when you're running forward.
5. You posture will improve
Many runners will slouch, drop their head, and lean too far forward. This is especially true when runners are tired, and often results in lower back pain. But with backward running, you will naturally keep your back straight as you move. The added benefit to running with straighter posture? You will work your core abdominal muscles as well.
6. Your senses will be heightened
Since you can't see what is in front of you, it is important to use your other senses to help navigate. By running backward, your sense of hearing and your peripheral vision will become more acute.
The New York Times picked up on this phenomenon quickly and consulted a few experts. Giovanni Cavagna, a professor at the University of Milan admits that the new routine has its negative aspects--mostly that your sight becomes impaired. "It should be done on a track," he says, "or by a couple of runners, side by side," one facing forward. Cavagna did a study (for more info on the study check out: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20719774) on running and found that "running backward required nearly 30 percent more energy than running forward at the same speed. But backward running also produced far less hard pounding."
In addiction with being a more attractive option for people with weak knees, it also burns more calories. Another study(study available here: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15776337) that was conducted on female college students. Researchers had the women who normally jogged regularly, jog backwards for 15- 45 minutes three times a week for six weeks. As a result, the women lost 2.5 percent of their body fat.
Seems legit, right? If you're a runner and can attest to the fact that reverse running is better for you, I have only one question: Does running in reverse have an effect on how fast you are?
Note: maybe it's because the site is starting to crash but I couldn't get two of the hyperlinks to work. The button would flash yellow as if it worked but it didn't so I just put the site in parenthesis when I mentioned a study.