You may not realize this, but walking the wrong way may be the solution to relieving your back pain.  There was a study released the other day that walking backwards on a treadmill can give some back pain sufferers some relief.  I admit that I do occassionally use this technique for some of my clients.  And there is a good reason why that is.

Walking Backwards on the Treadmill

Admittedly, it’s a little odd to start walking the wrong way on the treadmill.  Not only are you walking the wrong way, but if you are in a crowded gym, you are staring at the guy that is walking on the treadmill behind you.  It’s a little odd and definitely takes some getting used to.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to get the treadmill started, and then do a turn or step on the side until you position yourself just right.  Don’t go at too fast of a speed though.  This exercise takes a lot of getting used to.  And when you do this, it’s advised that you don’t hold on to the rails (if possible) and that you attach the safety cord to your shirt so you don’t fall off the treadmill.  But why would you do this, and more importantly, how does this help your back pain?

How this helps Back Pain

If I were to narrow this down to 3 things backwards does to help back pain, it would be this:

1. It stretches the hamstrings.  There was a study done, not too long ago, that showed a correlation between backwards walking and an increase in hamstring flexibility.  With the sedentary jobs that many of us have, stretching your hamstrings can only be a good thing.

2. It strengthens the glutes.  Anytime you extend the leg back, there is a glute (gluteus maximus) contraction.  The glutes are the most important muscles you can have developed to give your back support.  By walking backwards you are doing continuous glute contractions for the entire time you are walking.  Can you imagine doing bicep curls for 15 or 20 minutes?  That’s essentially what is happening for your glute muscles by walking backwards.

3. It stretches your hip flexors. Hip flexor muscles, like the Tensor Fascia Latae.  The hip flexor muscle tighten up while sitting at your desk all day, and walking backwards stretches this muscle back out.

So how long do you need to walk backwards on the treadmill.  In the most recent study, they found that people experienced significant back pain relief by walking for 15 minutes, 3 times a week for 3 weeks.  Participants also saw an increased range of motion.  Now that you understand how this exercise works, it makes sense why they would feel like they had range of motion.  Freeing up the hamstrings and hip flexors to move helps this happen.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.  But if you are experiencing back pain, hopefully this little tip/trick, will help.

Downloadable Back Pain Exercises

If you haven’t already, be sure to download my free back pain report.

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If you would like to set up an appointment to learn more about what you can do about your back pain, you can call us at 281-500-6055 .