If you have been keen enough, you must have heard something about barefoot running. As a matter of fact, there is a whole shoe collection dedicated to this style of running. Athletes have embraced the idea of running with semi-naked feet, and it has become part of their lifestyle.
There is a small band of biomechanical experts who believe that running backward prevents injury and burns lots of calories more than the conventional way of running. CrossFitters seem to agree with this. They have integrated this style of running in their CrossFit training routine particularly in pre-WOD warmups. A recent study on the backward technique of running has shown that it is a worthy exercise and can be used as a standalone training technique.
University of Milan researchers conducted a comparison study between forward and backward running to find out the effects of each. They used a running track lined with pressure sensors and cameras as their testing ground.
Muscles and Tendons
The findings of the study showed that forward runners hit the ground with their back foot, but for the backward runners, they hit the ground with their forefoot and then slanted forward. This impact proved effective in firing different muscles than when running forward.
Running forward was found to cause muscles and tendons to be pulled tight when landing and then released during takeoff. This movement created some sort of elastic energy just like a rubber band. On the flipside, backward running created coiled muscles and tendons when landing and during the launch phase when muscles stretched.
The amount of energy used by runners during backward running was found to be 30% more than that used during forward running at the same speed. The participants in the study lost approximately 2.5 of their body fat through reverse running. This can be attributed to the unconventional technique provided by backward running.
If you are in the CrossFit gym trying to find your form, reverse running can be a much greater and safer training technique. It works well even for athletes suffering from bad knees because the impact it has on the vulnerable joint is far less.