Why not! Backward walking, also known as retro walking, is said to have originated in ancient China, where it was practiced for good health.
I talk a lot about, and try and encourage choice, options, variations and playing. All of which are reasons for walking backwards.
For starters, when you walk backwards, it puts less strain and requires less range of motion from your knee joints, making it ideal for people who have knee problems or injuries.
Also, because backward walking eliminates the typical heel-strike to the ground (the toe contacts the ground first), it can lead to changes in pelvis alignment that help open up the facet joints in your spine, potentially alleviating pressure that may cause low back pain in some people.
Walking backwards also gives you a chance to work out all those muscles in your legs, such as your quadriceps and calves, which take a backseat to your hamstrings and glutes during regular walking.
It also works out your hamstrings in a different way, and walking backwards for just 10-15 minutes, four days a week for four weeks has been shown to increase flexibility in your hamstrings.
Interestingly, when you walk backwards, your heart rate tends to rise higher than it does when walking forward at the same pace, which suggests you can get greater cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter period of time.
In one study, women who underwent a six-week backward run/walk training program had a significant decrease in body fat as well as improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness at the end of the study.
There appear to be benefits for your brain, too.
Researchers found that when you walk backwards, it sharpens your thinking skills and enhances cognitive control. as well as protecting the brain from mechanical (habitual ) thinking - that rut that you get grooved into repeating the same old patterns while walking that same route.
This is also where you’ll fine tune your peripheral vision skills immensely. It’s because you can’t see where you’re going that other senses, like hearing, sensing and feeling can play a bigger role.
On top of harmonizing those senses you’ll also tune up your proprioceptive/kinesthetic system - how you sense without constantly seeing it with your eyes. (November article - How to keep Moving )
Special Considerations for Backward Walking
Obviously, when you walk backward one of the biggest risks is falling or tripping over obstacles.
It's best to start this activity in a secure location, such as on a beach or in an open field. If you decide to walk outdoors elsewhere, consider taking a friend with you who will walk forward and alert you to any upcoming dangers.
You can also try backward walking on a treadmill (be careful to start slowly to avoid tripping).
Another consideration is that your shoes will get more wear when you walk backward, so if you do it often you may need to replace them more often or wear some old shoes.
Train your body to tune into walking backwards, and benefit from it. Don't just use it haphazardly without thought and practice.