I'm a big fan of Michael Moseley's "Just one thing" and I was intrigued when I saw his Podcast "Walking backwards" as its something I always teach when working with clients whether they have back pain or not, as it improves co-ordination and balance and most importantly assists the client in breaking habits which are often longstanding.

Many people walk with their head poking forwards similar to the person in the illustration below

Good posture walking

If you think about it logically even if you only have a slight tendancy to walk with a forward head posture it is going to create a huge loading on your lower back and must be a contributer to lower back pain as the muscles in the lumbar area of the lower back are taking the strain.

Many of us look down which will also cause excessive strain on the neck.

There is some evidence through small scale medical trials that show that walking backwards might be beneficial for lower back pain and also for osteo-arthritis of the knee.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4932084/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6456984/

So now we have read about the benefits let's give backward walking a go, but let's do it slowly and mindfully by applying the principles of the Alexander Technique.

simple acts

So make sure you have enough space behind you to take at least 4-6 steps backwards safely.

  • Standing in stocking feet sense the ground beneath you. Think of a point behind the big toe, little toe and heel, like a triangle of support connecting with the ground.
  • Think from the ground up the shins, up the thighs, up the spine and think of the crown of the head releasing away from your feet and the top of the spine.
  • Now practice shifting your weight from one foot to the other, trying not to sway too much from side to side, just thinking of the whole of you from head to your feet.
  • Once you are comfortable with this when you have your weight on your left foot, send your right knee forward and as you do this bring your right heel back to take a step backwards with your right foot.
  • Slowly transfer the weight onto your right (back) foot. Sense the connection with the ground with your right fooot.
  • Then send your left knee forward and bring the heel back to take a step back with your left foot. Slowly shift your weight onto your left foot.
  • Think of lenthening up your legs and torso to the crown of your head.
  • Repeat backward steps with your right and then your left foot. Do so mindfully and think about your whole body from your feet to the crown of your head.
  • Once you have walked back as far as you want to go, stop and pause with one foot back and the other foot forward, slowly think of transfering your weight and the whole of your body forward from the back foot and let the other foot swing forward to take a step. 
  • Continue walking forwards and then switch to walking backwards again as detailed above.

So to avoid the curse of the old age stoop give it a go - try practising walking backwards and forwards.

comic lady walking

growing old but staying young

 

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