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Is Backward Walking a Secret Weight-Loss Hack? Exploring the TikTok Trend

Is Backward Walking a Secret Weight-Loss Hack? Exploring the TikTok Trend

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Fitness trends come and go, but walking is the tried and true workout regimen that everyone can get behind – but what happens when it’s flipped? Backwards walking has become all the rage on social media, with viral TikTok videos examining its supposed benefits. But what exactly are the gained benefits from switching up your daily walk? Keep scrolling for everything we know about the backwards walking trend.

It’s relatively straightforward, but the backwards walking trend sees its participants hitting the treadmill facing away from the body of the machine. People are similarly taking to their local parks and running trails to engage in the fitness hack, popularizing the trend even further.

Walking everyday – aiming for those 10,000 steps – is one of the most sustainable workout options and is lauded by doctors for its effectiveness. The Mayo Clinic details that simply taking a brisk walk on a regular basis can help you lose body fat and keep a trim weight, ward off or manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, improve muscle use and cardiovascular health, increase coordination and balance, decrease stress and a plethora of other benefits. From giving yourself time outside in the sun while walking, to catching up on a favorite podcast, walking has an increased number of positive outcomes.

With all that said, where does backwards walking fit into all this, and is it just as good for you?

The backwards walking trend has millions of views on TikTok, with a number of coaches and trainers breaking down just how many benefits there are to the practice. ATG Exercise’s Ben Patrick (@kneesovertoesguy) detailed that walking backwards on the treadmill can:

  • Protect knee health and decrease strain on the lower leg
  • Strengthen foot health due to pushing through the ball of the foot with each step
  • Increase your body’s cardio stamina
  • Strengthen your upper legs
  • Increase your ability to move downhill
  • Improve your running abilities on a flat surface
  • Increase your ability to jump
  • Expand knee mobility
  • Improve mental health

Board-certified Kunal Sood, MD, also took to TikTok to explain the benefits of backwards walking, telling followers that decreased knee pain is a likely result from the practice.

“When you walk in reverse, you’re engaging different muscles in your lower body than you normally would,” Dr. Sood said. “It will also take some pressure off your knee, specifically the inner part of your knee which is where most people develop osteoarthritis.”

“In addition, it is great at strengthening your gluteal muscles as well as improving both your balance and coordination,” he continued.

Though the trend is picking up steam on social media, backwards walking has been studied previously. In 2021, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that its 20 participants – who all lived with chronic strokes – all benefited from backwards walking.

Engaging in the exercise for half an hour per day, three times per week, for a month, the study subjects experienced an increase in pace, improved cardiopulmonary fitness and balance.

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Close-Up view of woman’s legs on a treadmill while exercising in a modern gym.

Like any new exercise or workout regimen, it’s important to give your body time to acclimate. Using different muscles and moving your body in a new way could leave you feeling sore in the morning, but unlike incredibly strenuous exercises, walking is relatively low risk.

“If you are going to start walking backwards, for your safety, start walking on a treadmill,” Dr. Sood recommended. “If you are outside, make sure you have a friend who can watch where you’re walking.”

Source: Getty, Mayo Clinic, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health