If you’ve been in the Performance Zone lately while I have been working out, you’ve probably seen me walking backwards with the sled. This is something new I’ve implemented in my training routine and have already started to see benefits just after two weeks of doing it.
As human beings we walk forward for potentially over 10,000 steps forward per day and 0 steps per day backwards. On top of that the Strength and Conditioning field has been obsessed with increasing acceleration. As a result we are seeing an unprecedented amount of knee injuries in sports over the last couple of years. A great way to mitigate this is to get reps in of walking backwards. When we walk backwards we are working on our deceleration muscles as well as our posterior chain, resulting in strengthening of the knee in efforts to bulletproof the knee joint itself. It has also been shown to have positive therapeutic effects on those who have complained about knee pain and discomfort.
Recent studies have shown proficiency in walking backwards as a predictor for falling in the elderly as well as overall knee health as humans’ age. While another study looked at teenagers, ages 12-16, running backwards compared to running forwards. The athletes who ran backwards increased their vertical jump on average of 4 inches compared to the forward running athlete’s only increase their vertical jump by 1 inch over an 8 week period. Other studies have also shown to have great benefits on brain activity, nervous system activation and memory.
This can also have a great effect on your golf swing mechanics. Increased strength around the knee and ankle joints will have a great impact on how much force you can put into the ground. This should result in better mobility up the chain as well as faster swing speeds and increased distance.
So where do I start? I always say, start where you can without pain. That might be just walking backwards at your own pace and slowly move faster as time goes by or adding a sled for resistance. If you think you are ready for the sled, start with a weight that is between 25-50% of your bodyweight and walk backwards for 2 minutes straight. Make sure to do both of these activities in a very safe environment where you have no chance of tripping, falling or getting injured. If you need help getting started please find a Performance Zone team member and we can get you started on your journey to a pain free life!