Running backwards: It almost sounds counterproductive, right? It’s actually quite the opposite, though. Reverse running touts a long list of benefits, and incorporating it as a part of your training strategy can help improve your overall strength as a runner.
Try including several short bouts of reverse running as part of your routine 2-3 times per week to reap the following benefits. Just make sure to start off slowy and practice on a safe surface like the track or an uncrowded beach.
1. Burn More Calories and Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
In a study consisting of 26 female participants, researchers found that running backwards expends more energy, which means you’ll burn more calories than you would during a regular, old forward-facing workout. The studies participants, who ran backwards for 15 to 45 minutes 3 times per week for 6 weeks, also experienced a 2.4% decrease in body fat percentage and improved VO2max values.
2. Strengthen Your Core & Improve Your Posture
When you run backwards, your body naturally takes on a more upright position, which requires greater engagement of the core muscles. According to James Bamber of reverserunning.com, running backwards can also help relieve nerve pressure and realign vertebrae in the spine.
3. Say Sayonara to Shin Splints
Shin splints are especially common in new runners. But whether you’re a novice or pro, nobody wants to deal with unpleasant shin splint pain. Running backwards is a great way to strengthen the muscles in the lower, front portion of your legs and get some blood flowing to the area which will help relieve soreness and prevent future injuries.
4. Increase Strength and Stability
Running backwards builds strength by challenging your muscles from a new angle. Plus, including it as part of your workouts a few times per week will add variety to your routine and take away from the repetitive nature of running forward. Reverse running has also been shown to improve kinetic and neuro-muscular function.