With Gait being one of the often forgotten about movement patterns for the human body, the way we walk, move and run during our training is very important. We need to work our lower body effectively with compound movements to make our training more effective, as well as improving our balance, engagement and walking movements through the lower body. The idea behind walking backwards is we strengthen the lower body through a range that isn’t normally worked in training. By strengthening the Tibialis muscles (by using steps resisting heel to toe) and the Vastus Medialis (Using steps with toe first resistance), as well as working the hamstrings, we can make our gait pattern more efficient, more powerful and potentially keep pain away from our lower body and the knees.
A lot of people would think this style of training is easier, and more varied, to do with the upper body. But with a sled, a rope or resistance band, a Gravity Fitness dip belt and the simple practice of changing direction we can make the most out of really working the gait movement pattern and bulletproof our knees, ankles and lower body too.
Walking backwards (or pushing forwards) with a sled is incredibly effective because firstly anyone can do it, you also get a cardio workout by keeping a good pace and tempo with the sled, a workout for your feet, it’s great for ankle mobility and stability too and you get to work your knee in the opposite way it’s worked through the gait pattern.
With the Gravity Fitness Dip Belt you can attach a rope or resistance band to the sled and pull backwards, weighting the sled however you like. The more solid the attachment the more strength and force you can apply in whichever direction you’re going.
These movements tend to be very simple and you can perform them with limited range, making them space and time efficient. No sled? No problem wrap a resistance band around something which won’t move. Wrap each loop around each leg just above the knee, line up your feet with each other and then bend one leg and straighten the other. And there you have a backwards sled pull you can do at home. Turn around and face the other way in the band and step forward, and you’ll be working the opposite way as well!
Any exercise that points the toes either up or down is also worth using in addition to your walking backwards training to rehab and strengthen those knees. Dorsiflexion and Plantar Flexion are the ways the ankle moves to point the foot up and down. You can add weight and do this with a light kettlebell on each foot performing slow controlled reps, or you can use a tib bar and add weight to that, or even calf raises to keep your lower body training on point. Working the ankles and knees through a gentle full range of motion is vital to keeping your knees and lower body happy and healthy.
I would recommend checking out Ben Patrick (kneesovertoesguy) on YouTube and Instagram. This way of training is his niche and his story is absolutely incredible. Definitely go and check him out!
And keep us posted on bulletproofing your knees by walking backwards. Tag us @gravity.fitness on IG so we can keep track of you. Just keep sledding!
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