Dana Hookins
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Flagstaff Hill
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The topic I have chosen for this quarter’s newsletter was written by Dr Joseph Mercola discussing the benefits of “Stimulating your fitness IQ by walking backward”.

Apparently walking backwards is “also known as retro walking” and is “said to have originated in ancient China ….. it’s become quite the rage in Japan, China and parts of Europe, where people use it to build muscle, improve sports performance, promote balance and more”.

“…. When you walk backwards, it puts less strain and requires less range of motion from your knee joints, making it ideal for people who have knee problems or injuries. Also, because backward walking eliminates the typical heel-strike to the ground (the toe contacts the ground first), it can lead to changes in pelvis alignment that help open up the facet joints in your spine, potentially alleviating pressure that may cause low back pain in some people.

…. Walking backwards ….. works out your hamstrings in a different way …”  Also, “…. your heart rate tends to rise higher than it does when walking forward at the same pace …”

This is what I immediately thought about when I read the introduction of the article and then found it mentioned:

“…. to be benefits for your brain too. Researchers found that when you walk backwards, it sharpens your thinking skills and enhances cognitive control. …. even though backward walking is a physical activity, it’s also a neurobic activity, meaning it requires brain activity that may help you stay mentally sharp.  Plus, since it puts your senses into overdrive as you move in an unfamiliar way, it is also known to enhance vision as well.”

That was the part of the article that interested me the most as it made me think about how much of what we do is habitual.  Think about your morning routine – when you have a shower do you always wash yourself in the same pattern, whether that be your hair first, etc?  When you dress yourself, do you always put the same article of clothing on first (new clean ones of course – haha!). Sometimes it’s good to mix up your routine – you may find it help you to be more “present”.

There have been articles written about changing your preferred dominant hand or leg, for example swapping hands when using your knife and fork, or playing soccer / tennis with your non-dominant leg / arm.  This all helps with reactivating our neural pathways.

Getting back to Dr Mercola’s article – he was also discussing how people can find the benefits from exercise plateauing when they exercise the same way using the same muscles all the time and that doing the “walking backward” method may be beneficial to push pass the plateau.

I think the same can be said when people are using the same “eating plan” to lose weight. They too often find their weight plateauing and so changing their eating routine may help to kick start their metabolism.  This can be as simple as changing their “main meal” to lunch instead of the evening meal.

As you know I always need to try out what I write about and so I decided to go for a walk – walking backwards J

I must say, the dog was a little unsure of whether I knew what I was doing, facing one direction and walking the opposite.

It certainly was a different feeling – I could feel different muscles come into play – and I did feel less strain on my knee joints going uphill.

Unfortunately my big mistake was in dragging my toes and the unevenness of the path caused me to fall, however I wasn’t hurt.  It did make me more aware of lifting my feet, but I do think it’s an exercise I would feel more comfortable doing on an oval or on the sand at the beach.

In my case as all our paths in the park are curved, the other issue was straining my neck in looking backwards, as I was unsure of where the bends in the path were, and so the oval and beach would once again solve that problem.

I have to say, I did enjoy the experiment and will try it out some more.