Walking Backwards

Walking Backwards

Walking backwards. Yes, I know that for many people, even walking forward is a chore. So come year end, someone proposing that you also walk backward might easily be labelled insane. But let me take my chances.

Ever since you were born, your natural instinct has been to walk forward. The most obvious reason was vision. Human beings have a vision of roughly 180 degrees. Forward.

So anything that is behind you is hard to see without turning your head. When you walk backwards, it challenges your brain to predict what is there, how far things are, and what would be the appropriate next step to take.

While you may not realise it, each movement of the body is a carefully orchestrated series of steps driven by the brain's understanding of what is around you. When this gets disrupted, your mind and body are challenged.

Challenge, as we know by now, is a good thing!

Walking backwards helps build better brain-body coordination. You are doing something that you have not done before, and the brain has to relearn how.

Walking backwards helps build motor control and motor muscles. Your stability and balance improve. Strangely, because you cannot take very large steps backwards, your leg muscles actually get stronger, reducing the tension on your knee.

Yes, your knees will thank you for walking backward.

Since this form of movement is not natural, your brain will go from autonomous to regulated. You have to be present-focused and undistracted. Otherwise, you will fall. It is like a form of meditation.

So how often and how much should you do?

If you have never done this before, start with small, baby steps. Take a dozen steps. Do it on flat land in terrain that you know well. Your living room, perhaps. Once you get better, you can do hills and mountains.

NB: if you decide to learn to walk backwards, please do so carefully to ensure that you do not end up injuring yourself.