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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Running backwards is the way forward

24th May 2011

Running backwards could be a more effective way to get fit, because it burns more calories and puts less strain on joints.


According to a study at the University of Oregon, reverse runners need only to achieve 80% of the speed of regular runners to get the same health benefits.

And researchers in South Africa found that the action of reverse running boosts cardiovascular fitness.

A research team at Stellenbosch University studied the effects of backwards running on a group of women over a six-week period, compared with a control group following a regular fitness regime.

The reverse runners were found to have become much fitter in terms of oxygen uptake, and had lost an average of 2.5% of their body fat.

This year has seen a boom in the number of people taking up the habit, coming hard on the heels of last-year's barefoot shoe craze.

Reverse running is preferred by some because there is less of the pounding effect associated with forward running or jogging.

It also burns roughly one-fifth more calories than regular running.

London-based instructor Karl Twomey began reverse running when he was training for the London Marathon last year because it put less strain on his knees.

He was able to complete the event fast, and injury-free.

Twomey said he found his balance and peripheral vision both improved as a result, as well as his muscle tone.

July will see the first public reverse-running fun run event at Crystal Palace Park in southeast London, while the nationwide reverse-running championships will take place in Manchester in August.

Reverse running is nothing new. It was first prescribed to injured athletes by sports doctors as a form of rehabilitation.

Many sports training programmes, especially boxing and hockey, have incorporated it since.

The motion reduces impact on the joints and is often recommended by physiotherapists as a way to recovery from knee and back problems.

Others say it is a more efficient route to fitness.

Anyone beginning reverse running for the first time should choose flat terrain and a short distance, no more than 100 metres, in a straight line.

They should first identify any rocks or dips in the ground, and possibly run with a partner, taking turns to run facing in opposite directions together.

Backward running can also be incorporated into a warm-up or cool-down routine, and time and distance increased gradually.

Experts say the practice also strengthens the big toes, which helps overall posture, while improving coordination and cognitive function.

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Jeannette Hassberg

Thursday 26th May 2011 @ 2:24

This is very interesting, could you offer some pointers, like do it on a track with someone going forward, wear a "rear-view mirror", go for twenty paces, slow to a walk, build up to fifty paces...it's not so easy to just start running in reverse!

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