Walking Backwards On the Treadmill

Woman walking backward on a treadmill

It is common practice to have patients improve their gait and mobility in their lower extremities by having them walk backward on a treadmill. In addition, this walking style can enhance the range of motion in the knees, hips, and ankles.

In this article, you will learn about walking backward on a treadmill, why doing so is beneficial, and tips for how to do so in a secure manner. Read on to learn more!

Benefits of Walking Backward on the Treadmill

Here are the advantages of using a treadmill while walking in the opposite direction.

· Makes the Hamstrings More Flexible

To increase the flexibility of the hamstring muscle group, your physical therapist may instruct you to walk in reverse while on the treadmill if your hamstrings are particularly tight. Your hamstrings are responsible for bending your knees and extending your hips when you use them.

When you walk backward, your hamstrings tighten, which causes your knees to bend and swing through the air as you go. Following that, your hamstring will be stretched as you roll from your toes onto your heel, resulting in a straightening of your knee.

· Enhances the Quadriceps’ Capabilities and Performance

Walking backward may also be beneficial for improving the function of your quadriceps muscles, which are located on the outer aspect of your upper thighs. When you straighten your knee, the quadriceps become active.

You may increase your quads’ strength by performing exercises such as quad sets, short arc quads, and straight leg lifts. Your physical therapist may suggest that you try walking backward to improve your quad function.

When you walk backward, the muscles in your quadriceps contract, and as you travel from your toes to your heels, your knees gradually become straighter. This may improve the function of your quadriceps muscles.

· Gains in Stability, Gait, and Mobilization

The gait characteristics of a person recovering from an injury, surgery, or illness may also improve after engaging in reverse walking.

It’s possible that walking backward will “reset” your gait and will improve your ability to walk forward. If you are having trouble maintaining your balance and moving around, you may try reverse walking to improve your general mobility.

· Improves the Heart and Lung Function

According to research, walking backward requires more oxygen and places a greater demand on the cardiovascular system in the opposite direction. As a consequence of this, it is more beneficial to the health of the heart and lungs than walking forward.

· Improves Knee Flexibility and Range of Motion

Walking backward may help increase the range of motion in the extension of the knee, which could be beneficial. You may have less knee extension, depending on the seriousness of your knee injury or the presence of knee arthritis in your body.

When you walk backward, the knee that was bent straightens out entirely as you transition from your toes to your heel; this helps to increase the range of motion possible in the knee extension position.

How to Start Walking Backward on a Treadmill

If you have never tried walking in reverse on a treadmill before, you should begin with a slow speed. It could be difficult enough to walk while facing the opposite direction. In addition, you will be able to increase your pace in subsequent sessions as you get used to it.

The initial speed of most treadmills is only 0.5 miles per hour, which is relatively slow. Beginning at the slowest speed possible will allow you to get your walking posture and rhythm down pat. Once you feel adjusted to the environment and can easily maintain that pace, gradually pick up the pace by 0.5 mph increments.

When you start moving faster, you will most likely feel muscles working that aren’t as obvious when you’re just walking forward. This refers to your quadriceps and your calves.

Ensure that your backward intervals are relatively short when you start. To increase the difficulty of your walk, you can walk faster or for a longer period.

How to Avoid Injuries When Walking Backward on a Treadmill

Keeping one’s safety in mind is an essential aspect of reverse walking. You should take the following safety precautions when using a treadmill and walking backward.

  • Place yourself in a standing position on a treadmill with your back to the front of the machine. You should position your feet on either side of the belt.
  • You should fasten the safety lanyard to either your shirt or your pants. If your body moves to an extreme distance from the front of the treadmill, this device will immediately halt the movement of the belt.
  • After you have started the treadmill, adjust the speed of the belt so that it moves at the slowest possible rate.
  • Maintain your grip on the side rails of the treadmill.
  • To begin walking backward, reach one leg behind you and land on your toes. Continue this motion until you are walking entirely in reverse.
  • Walk in a pattern that goes from your toes to your heels while having someone gradually increase the treadmill’s speed. The average person can walk backward at approximately two miles per hour. Your speed might change depending on the circumstances you’re in right now.
  • When you are finished, have someone halt the movement of the belt. Be sure to keep moving backward until the belt has come to a complete halt at the end of its journey.


Should I hold onto the handrails if I’m walking backward?

Begin by holding onto the handrails. When you are sure you won’t lose your balance, you should remove your hands from the side rails and walk backward. But you should wait to do this until you have mastered the skill.

Is it possible to run in reverse on a treadmill?

It’s possible that once you’ve gotten used to moving backward, you’ll be ready to give backward jogging on a treadmill a shot for a while. This will depend on how well you adapt to the motion. Alternate forward walking or slow jogging intervals with backward jogging intervals throughout your program for a few minutes as necessary.

If you discover that it is challenging to keep your balance, you should slow down until you find a comfortable rhythm. Increase the workout’s intensity by increasing the movement’s speed as your body gets used to it.

Is walking backward while on an incline possible?

When walking backward on a treadmill, you can also change your routine by adjusting the incline to a different setting. In the same way, you should start slowly with your speed and begin by inclining the treadmill to its most balanced setting. When you do this, you will most likely feel a burning sensation concentrated more in your thighs.

Your workout consisting of backward walking intervals can also include incline walking. Perform one minute at a predetermined incline, then increase that incline by one level for the following minute before bringing it back down. This helps you burn more calories and improve your muscle strength in a shorter time.


To assist patients in improving their walking ability, strength, range of motion, or flexibility, a physical therapist may occasionally have them walk backward on a treadmill as part of their treatment.

Walking backward is a therapeutic exercise for patients who have sustained injuries to their lower extremities. You can return to your maximum level of mobility and function more quickly and safely if you understand what to anticipate with reverse walking.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.

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