Feeling Great

Retro Running

Next time you hit the pavement, change up your routine with this surprisingly effective technique

Want to spice up your daily run? Try running backward. No, we’re not joking. Reverse running, a.k.a. retro running, is one of the hottest trends of 2022, according to Pure Gym, whose research revealed a 50 percent increase in online searches for the term in 2021.

While the thought of running backward may conjure up images of falling flat on your face, when done correctly, experts say it can be an effective strategy to prevent joint injuries, burn more calories and develop a more balanced muscular system. Some estimates say it burns a whopping 30 percent more calories than traditional running.

When you’re running backward, you’re catching your body weight on the balls of your feet instead of landing on the flats of your feet, so there’s less impact between your body and the ground.

In addition, it’s been shown to improve your posture. Think about it: When you run forward, your body tends to lean forward as well, which contributes to poor running form (which over time will turn into pain and injury). Running backward requires you to maintain good posture. You stand more upright, and your spine is supported by all the surrounding muscles, helping you maintain good form throughout your run.

Here’s another benefit: Running backward is more physically demanding than running forward, requiring a lot more effort to move from one point to another. So, with regular training, you’ll improve your running stamina and aerobic capacity, resulting in faster run times when you switch to forward running. (That’s why so many competitive runners are adding it to their routines.)

Ready to lace up your sneakers and give reverse running a try? Here are some tips to get started:

Walk first, then run

Find a predictable surface that doesn’t have any obstructions in your path, such as an open stretch of space or a running track. Begin by walking. It will feel odd at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly. Over time, increase your speed to a slow jog and, eventually, a running pace.

Practice falling

Hopefully you’ll never hit the ground, but it’s a good idea to practice controlled falls in case you lose balance. If you feel yourself doing so, try to land on your side or the softest parts of your body to disperse the impact.

Watch where you’re going

You’ll obviously need to turn your head from time-to-time to make sure you’re running safely. Consider bringing a friend along to act as your eyes and “spot” so you can focus
on your running.

Enjoy the view

Some runners say that when they run backward, they feel like they’re flying, which adds a whole new level of adventure to the sport. Others contend that the best part of reverse running is this: Instead of focusing on how many more miles you have to log in, you get to see how far you’ve gone. Talk about a change in perspective!

Practice your posture

Keep your shoulders over your feet so that you’re not leaning forward or backward. Keep your arms low and close to your body. Push off from the balls of your feet and monitor your form to make sure you don’t lift them too high.