January 28, 2024

Walking Backwards on the Treadmill

backwards treadmill

Walking backwards on a treadmill might look awkward, but it actually improves balance and coordination - even used in physical therapy to help restore range of motion and mobility.

Studies show that treadmill-based walking backward training improves functional balance ability and cardiopulmonary fitness in chronic stroke patients. Walking backwards on both an indoor treadmill and outdoors will have positive results for functional balance ability and cardiopulmonary fitness. Try it both indoors and out!


As it's difficult to see where one is walking while walking backwards, this movement requires greater coordination and body awareness compared to walking forwards. By increasing knee strength and balance and decreasing risk of falls down stairs among older adults, walking backwards may help strengthen both of them and reduce falls down staircases.

Start off this treadmill hack by setting your speed to its lowest setting, gradually increasing speed and incline until you find an equilibrium with it all. However, remember that increasing both at once may throw you off balance!

Hold onto the side rails of the treadmill and walk in an out-and-back gait while rolling your knee from front to back. After finishing this exercise, either turn off or have someone turn off for you; to maximize results, repeat short increments until your muscles have fully adjusted to this form of training and increase duration accordingly.


Walking backwards on a treadmill might seem counterintuitive, but it has real fitness advantages. Toning different muscles while improving balance and coordination, increasing VO2 max1 as an effective cardio workout are just a few benefits that come from this unconventional treadmill workout.

An indoor treadmill offers much greater safety than trying to walk backwards outdoors, where you could trip or collide with other people, yet injury could still result from improper form.

Physical Therapists can teach you how to safely walk backwards on a treadmill and recommend an ideal starting speed. In addition, PTs will evaluate your risk factors and ensure this movement is safe for you.


Walking backwards on a treadmill provides more than an extra workout; it targets an entirely different group of muscles. Beyond working hips, knees and ankles, this exercise strengthens supporting core muscles - an invaluable benefit if you experience knee pain or have issues with balance or coordination.

Exercise also exercises postural muscles, helping maintain uprightness of your body, which in turn improves balance and agility. This can be especially helpful for people suffering from balance disorders; helping prevent falls and accidents during daily life.

Exercise may not be suitable for everyone and it should only be undertaken if your gait is steady and your recovery from an injury has progressed sufficiently. Therefore, start slowly and increase the pace only when comfortable; additionally, you should use handrails and have someone spot you the first few times you attempt it.

Retro Walking

Retro Walking (retrowalking) may seem like an April Fool's joke, but it can actually be used as an effective fitness technique. Strengthening supporting muscles and improving balance are just two benefits that retro walking provides; especially helpful for anyone dealing with knee pain or chronic conditions that cause balance issues. You can add an incline treadmill if desired to make this even more challenging!

Studies conducted in 2021 demonstrated that retro walking on a treadmill helped reduce pain and functional disability while also strengthening quadriceps strength and performance for people living with knee osteoarthritis. Furthermore, walking speed and cardiopulmonary fitness levels increased due to this treatment option.

Before beginning this exercise, be sure to obtain approval from your physician and start slowly; gradually build up time and distance as you go along. Use handrails carefully, sit or stand securely, and have someone nearby who can act as a spotter should your balance become unstable.

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