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Backward Running May Ease Hamstring Pain

Backward running can lessen hamstring problems


Updated October 08, 2007

If you are prone to hamstring injuries or aching knees, you might want to consider backward running or walking as a part of your training program. Backward walking or running doesn't put much strain on the knees, but it stretches and strengthens the hamstrings and quadriceps, resulting in improved balance between the two muscle groups. It also strengthens abdominal and back muscles. It is also used in rehabilitation programs for recover from back, hip, groin, hamstring, ankle and Achilles' injuries.

Getting Started with Backward Running - The Basics:

  • Start slowly. As with any new activity you will be using different muscles which must be conditioned gradually. Begin by walking backward and as you get more comfortable, begin to jog.
  • Choose the terrain carefully. You want smooth terrain or even a treadmill with handrails for support. Find a quiet or low traffic area. Since you can't see where you are going, make sure you won't run into anyone or anything.
  • You can also try backward running or walking on a treadmill. Start very slowly and gradually increase your speed.
  • Do not perform backward running on a busy walking / bike path, for example. Not only will you be a danger to everyone else, but you will get a lot of mighty odd stares and comments.
  • Alternate sides when looking back over your shoulder to prevent neck cramps.
  • Work out with a forward-walking / running partner, if possible.
  • Limit your backward training sessions to two per week.
  • Start with about 60 seconds of backward running followed by 60 seconds of forward walking and repeat about 5-10 times.


Backward Running: Benefits, Barry T. Bates, Ph.D., Biomechanics department at the University of Oregon

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