What is Backward Running & How to Get Started With it?|Health Benefits, Risks of Backward Running

Do you know about backward running? Well! There some wonderful health benefits of backward running; and we will know about the health benefits in this article.

What is Backward Running and How to Get Started With it?

Backward running is also known as retro running which is popular in Europe and Japan. In fact the Japanese have been walking or running backwards for centuries as a part of their daily exercise. In Europe you can find a lot of races that are run backward, from short sprints all the way up to marathons. Here we will know about backward running on the track as well as on the treadmill.

  1. How to Get Started With Backward Running on Track?

    You need to begin by walking or running short distances backward and then switching to running forward and repeating for as long as possible by you.

    If you are running on the field then you can run 50 meters backward and then 50 meters forward and repeat. You can gradually increase the distance as you feel more comfortable and confident in backward running.

  2. How to Get Started With Backward Running on Treadmill?

    If you are trying the backward running on a treadmill then at first go for backward walking. Try walking forward for 5 minutes and then backward for 5 minutes and then repeat the pattern throughout your workout.

    You can gradually increase the speed from walking to running, as you get more comfortable with the movement. Keep it noted that walking backward is much harder, so slow your pace by at least 50%.

Studies Suggesting the Benefits of Backward Running:

Backward running must not be mistaken for the forward running; however there are some indications that backward running enables people to avoid or recover from common injuries, burn some extra calories and sharpen balance while mixing up their daily routine.

There have been many research studies related to backward running and their health benefits. Following are some of the important things to note on backward running and their benefits.

  • In one study researchers found that runners with bad knees also benefited from backward running, because it causes far less impact to the front of the knees. Also, it burns more calories.
  • In one more study, active female college students who replaced their exercise with backward jogging, 15 to 45 minutes 3 times a week for six weeks, lost about 2.5% of their body fat.

What are the Health Benefits of Backward Running?

What are the Health Benefits of Backward Running?

The following are some of the health benefits of backward running.

  1. Backward Running is Beneficial in Improving the Posture:

    In case of forward running, you may easily slouch over at the waist. This poor running form not only hurts your time while running but also it can cause several back problems and neck pain as you add up miles to your running. However, while backward running, you will require standing more upright and this in turn aids in keeping a straight or upright posture throughout the run. So, it can be said that backward running may help you improve the posture.

  2. Helps in Burning Calories:

    One more health benefits of backward running is that it aids in burning calories. Research suggests that you will burn approximately 20% more calories while you are running backward than running forward. This clearly means that you can get a better total calorie burn with backward running if you run the same amount of time or distance as forward running and also you can get your desired calorie burn in less time if you have a tight schedule. So, backward running could actually be a great workout for calorie burning effects.

  3. Helps in Improved Leg Speed and Performance:

    Backward running also helps in improving leg speed and performance. Running backward actually requires more effort in terms of movement as it is more difficult to move from one point to another. This effort also helps in greater cardiovascular efficiency and increased stamina. Because of this, backward running may help improve your time when you are running forward.

  4. Benefits of Backward Running in Muscle Development:

    In weight room, it is good practice to work opposing groups of muscle for developing your whole body evenly. However while forward running, you only work your muscles in the same way every time. But, backward running gets you a chance to help you develop the muscles opposite on your regular running muscle groups.

  5. Backward Running Can Be Done Even With Injuries:

    Many running injuries are actually repetitive injuries that will only be painful with forward running. However, if you turn to backward running, you might find that your ankles and knees are not sore in the same spots and you can get your exercise in while letting the injured area recover. You may be able to avoid developing any of those pains to begin with if you are able to alternate forward running and backward running once.

  6. Your Senses Get Heightened With Backward Running:

    As in backward running you cannot see what is in front of you, it is important for you to use your senses to help navigate. By backward running, your sense of hearing and your peripheral vision will become more acute.

  7. Fun Element of Backward Running:

    Long forward running could be a sort of boring for you. However adding some backward running to your routine could be real interesting as you can breathe new life in to your runs and have a little fun at the same time. This would be real exciting for you!

    However, backward running has some drawbacks which must be taken care off.

Risks Involved in Backward Running:

You must be made aware about few of the risks involved with backward running. Below are some of the risks.

  • You cannot see what potentially dangerous objects you have in your path while running backwards. Though you can turn your head to look the backward scene, you will slow down and may also strain your neck with this.
  • Some of the most crucial dangers of backward running could be tripping, stepping in to a hole and running in to stationary objects like parked cars, tree, electric poles etc.


If you can avoid the minor risks involved with it then backward running could perhaps be one of the best exercises for you providing enough of health benefits.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 3, 2017

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