Is Walking Backward Good for You? We Asked an Expert

Wondering if walking backward offers any health benefits? Our expert discusses the science behind reverse walking and its surprising advantages for fitness, balance, and more.

Key Points

  • Reverse walking activates different muscle groups than forward walking.
  • Studies suggest it can improve balance, coordination, and posture.
  • May be beneficial for reducing fall risk in older adults.
  • May offer benefits for those with knee pain or osteoarthritis.
  • Consult a doctor before starting any new exercise program.


We all know the benefits of regular walking. It’s a low-impact exercise that improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, and boosts mood. But what if there was a way to take your walking routine to the next level? Enter backward walking. It might sound strange, but research suggests is walking backward good for you and offers a surprising range of benefits.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind backward walking and answer your questions. We spoke with Dr. Sarah Jones, a certified physician and exercise specialist, to get the expert scoop on this unique walking technique.

Benefits of Walking Backward

Walking backward might seem counterintuitive, but it offers a unique challenge to your body. Here are some of the potential benefits.

Improved balance and coordination

Unlike forward walking, where your body anticipates the next step, walking backward forces you to engage your core muscles more to maintain stability.

Studies like one published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2016) found that reverse walking can improve balance and gait control in healthy adults.

Reduced fall risk

Good balance is crucial for preventing falls, especially in older adults. A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (2011) suggests that backward walking exercises can be effective in reducing fall risk in older populations.

Engages different muscle groups

Walking forward primarily uses the quadriceps muscles in your thighs. However, is walking backward good for you because it activates different muscle groups like the hamstrings, calves, and glutes. This can help improve overall muscle tone and strength.

Potential benefits for knee pain

Some research suggests that reverse walking may be beneficial for those with knee pain or osteoarthritis. A study published in the Gait & Posture Journal (2013) found that backward walking placed less stress on the knee joint compared to forward walking.

Increased calorie burn

While research is ongoing, some studies suggest that walking backward may burn slightly more calories than walking forward due to the increased effort required for balance and coordination.

Is Walking Backward Right for You?

Is Walking Backward Good for You

While is walking backward good for you, it’s important to consider your individual fitness level and health conditions. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Start slow and short

Begin with short intervals of backward walking (30 seconds to 1 minute) and gradually increase the duration as you get comfortable.

Find a safe environment

Practice in a clear, open space free of obstacles. Consider having a spotter nearby for additional support.

Listen to your body

Stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. Consult a doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

Who Can Benefit from Backward Walking?

Is walking backward good for you regardless of age or fitness level? The answer is – potentially. Here’s a breakdown of how different groups might benefit.

Active individuals

Backward walking can add variety and challenge to your workouts, engaging different muscles and improving overall body awareness.

Older adults

Backward walking can be a powerful tool for improving balance, maintaining muscle strength, and reducing fall risk, promoting healthy aging.

Rehabilitation patients

Healthcare providers may recommend backward walking for individuals with knee osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, or those recovering from certain injuries.

Walking Backward Variations

Once you’re comfortable with basic backward walking, you can try these variations to add challenge and variety.

Walking backward on an incline

Walking uphill backward provides an even greater challenge for your core and leg muscles.

Walking backward with lunges

Incorporate lunges into your backward walking routine to target your quadriceps and hamstrings even more.

Backward walking with arm movements

Swing your arms naturally while walking backward to engage your upper body muscles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is walking backward safe?

Walking backward can be safe if done with proper caution. Start slowly in a clear space and listen to your body. Consult a doctor before starting if you have any concerns.

How long should I walk backward for?

Begin with short intervals (30 seconds to 1 minute) and gradually increase the duration as you get comfortable. Aim for a total of 10-15 minutes of backward walking incorporated into your regular walking routine.

Will walking backward help me lose weight?

While it may burn slightly more calories than forward walking, is walking backward good for you for weight loss depends on your overall diet and exercise plan. It’s a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle, but a balanced diet is crucial for weight management.

A Takeaway Message

So, is walking backward good for you? The answer seems to be a loud yes. From improved balance and strength to potential brain benefits and even increased calorie burning, backward walking offers a range of advantages.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.