The unexpected benefits of walking backward
It sounds AND looks a little silly to be walking down the sidewalk on the way to work backward. It may even seem a little risky, and if you’re not careful, it could be. So why would you consider taking a walk back? It turns out there are several benefits to this somewhat irrational idea. Here are a few of the unexpected ways you could benefit from following this strange trend.
Walking backward can improve your memory. Recent studies show that those who physically walked backward while trying to memorize images, words, and other scenes performed much better than those who didn’t. It even helped to simple watched a video that simulated walking backward or for the participants to imagine doing the action as they memorized the sequences.
But what was the reasoning behind these findings? The theory is that people can associate backward motion with the past. When you are looking behind you as you walk, you are looking into the past. This, in turn, triggers a memory response.
Doctors are hoping that such findings will be able to help patients that suffer from dementia or brain injury to trigger this same kind of memory response.
Does walking backward have a physical benefit as well? It turns out that it does. This is especially true for those who suffer from lower back pain. Low back pain can discourage patients from staying active. This can lead to weakened muscles, knee pain, and shortened hamstrings.
How does walking backward help? Studies show that the weakest muscles in these patients are those behind the spine called the extensors. If these muscles aren’t appropriately exercised, one may lose stability in the lumbar spine.
Walking backing focuses the attention on these essential muscles that can otherwise be “ignored” when walking forward. Lower limb muscles are then worked to a greater degree, and pain in the knees is reduced. It also gives the hamstrings a chance to stretch out and prevents them from becoming shortened or overly tight.
As we can see, walking backward, when done in a safe environment has many mental as well as physical benefits. With time, your memory will not only improve, but you’ll find that back, and joint pain will diminish. Perhaps it’s time to talk to your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist, about incorporating this simple exercise into your daily routine.