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  • ??? Backwards walking for sciatica?

    I've seen a few references on SS over the years to backwards walking, including in Parkinson's patients using it as a trick to allow normal forward gait. I also see a number of people at the gym doing it on the treadmills, for whatever purpose, probably to as a recommendation from trainers to strengthen/tone the "glutes".

    I've been thinking of it as an exercise for, for instance, a mild lumbosacral radiculopathy. I guess it'd be similar to other "glute strengthening" exercises, providing a brief compression and then reduction of pressure of the LS nerves, creating a pumping effect in the IVF. Maybe a more fun, novel, reduced-threat version of bridges or bird dog?

    Does anyone recommend backwards walking for patients? For what conditions?

    Thanks!
    Brian Allen, DC, ART, CSCS

  • #2
    I do not use backward walking on any regular basis. But I don't see anything wrong with your reasoning.

    I've been thinking of it as an exercise for, for instance, a mild lumbosacral radiculopathy. I guess it'd be similar to other "glute strengthening" exercises, providing a brief compression and then reduction of pressure of the LS nerves, creating a pumping effect in the IVF. Maybe a more fun, novel, reduced-threat version of bridges or bird dog?
    Heck, I would stand on my head if I could just get some patients to get some more general activity in.
    Kory Zimney, PT, DPT

    http://koryzimney.blogspot.com

    "Study principles not methods, a mind that can grasp principles will create its own methods." - Gill

    "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them." - Galileo Galilei

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    • #3
      Typically retrowalking is recommended for a quad exercise and to promote terminal knee extension. For LBP, it would be fine, but no better than walking or elliptical or nustep, in my opinion.

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      • #4
        I wouldn't bother recommending this. I would encourage your patients to walk forwards as often as possible.
        Rob Willcott Physiotherapist

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        • #5
          The only advantage for backwards walking is that it's a novel movement for the brain - which could be interesting to try in certain cases, particularly in a safe environment with longer strides than ususal.
          I don't see it as a "strengthening" thing at all.

          Nari

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          • #6
            Back in the day I used to reccommed it for patella femoral pain syndrome. Less patella pressure you know. Now use neurodynamics, ideomotion etc. much better.

            Through millions of years of evoution we evolved walking forward. Less tension throughout the knee walking foward. If any arthritis, walking backward will certainly aggrevate it. So for general population, why bother?

            In sport, you may have to use, for instance; basketball and defensive backs backpedalling on defense.

            Go New England Patriots

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            • #7
              Years ago David Butler advocated backwards walking to improve gluteals as we are losing our gluts due to lack of walking and lots of sitting.

              I still support the idea in certain circumstances; especially for those who take small steps and no arm swing (as in Parkinsons and the elderly).

              Nari

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              • #8
                I frequently have patient's walk backwards. I do this mostly as a novel input. From a biomechanical perspective, we are asking the patient to use muscle in reverse fashion--concentric versus eccentric.

                I would like my patients to learn to think of their body as something that was designed to move, and feel free to explore motion in a variety of ways. I 'm not that worried about how strong they are, but rather that they use the body they've got.

                Personally I have been dealing with Left heel pain for a while, and I find that if I change up my gait periodically--backward walking, side step, and braiding--that my tolerance to standing, and ambulation has improved.

                Geralyn

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                • #9
                  I could see where this would increase lumbar extension with repetition and could be a helpful activity if the pt's radiculopathy appeared to lessen with extension activities..

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                  • #10
                    Hi willynillly,
                    Please start a thread in our welcome forum, so we can welcome you there, and tell us a bit about you.
                    Diane
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Diane View Post
                      Hi willynillly,
                      Please start a thread in our welcome forum, so we can welcome you there, and tell us a bit about you.
                      Done!

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                      • #12
                        Backwards walking came up in dsicussion yesterday at work as a way of distinguishing between a gait which is an overt pain behaviour and one which is more mechanically antalgic.
                        Back in the ortho rehab days we used it with ACL reconstruction folk to get closed chain extension at the knee - especially if walking backwards up a treadmill on an incline. My thought at the time was that it was really pushing the patient out of a comfort zone and increasing their trust by stretching their experience....
                        Peering over the shoulders of giants.

                        Know pain. Know gain.

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                        • #13
                          Apparently backwards running is a common form of fitness in China fyi.

                          From:Running on Fumes in Beijing

                          Joseph Kahn, a deputy foreign editor for The Times who just returned from five years as Beijing bureau chief, said athletics in China was mostly confined to sports academies that train young people to be Olympians. Otherwise, exercise takes place in the morning in parks, where people do yoga and tai chi and run backward, which they think helps with balance.
                          --------------------------------------------------------------
                          Body is imbued with mind, and mind is embodied.

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