Walking Backward for Joint Health
Here's a good way to keep moving but take some of the pressure off your knees.
Just put one foot behind the other. Yep, walking backward puts less strain on your patellofemoral joint -- an important kneecap-to-thighbone connection.
Okay, you won't want to do this in an area that is highly trafficked, unlevel, or unfamiliar. But under the right (read safe) circumstances, walking in reverse gear will make your quadriceps muscles contract differently than they do when you're walking forward. It will cause a concentric contraction -- a movement that's gentler on your anterior cruciate ligament, a knee ligament professional athletes routinely injure. Guess some NFL running backs could use this trick . . . (Need to sit it out today? This video shows you how you can work out from a chair.)
If you want to try backward walking, go slow until you get the hang of it. Maybe invite a spotter along. And don't try it for the first time on a treadmill. If you've got knee problems of any sort, check with your doctor first. And consider these other ways to stay active while staving off knee trouble:
- Sweat it out. Cardio exercise can actually increase the amount of protective cartilage in your knees. Here's what we recommend.
- Buffer your joints. Strength training bolsters more than your bones and muscles. Try this exercise to strengthen your knees.
- Move your hips. Hip muscles are key to helping prevent knee pain. Here are some good exercises for your upper leg and hip.