Walking Backwards for Bad Knees: Benefits, Drawbacks, & How?

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Never underestimate the impact that walking backward has on your physical health. No wonder it is advisable to walk backward for knee pain.

You are most likely wondering how that could solve the excruciating pain your knees are experiencing. Fortunately, this piece sheds light on this particular topic.

It explains the reason the walking backward technique resolves knee pain. You also learn how to do it right to avoid worsening the situation.

So, without much ado, let’s delve into why and how to walk backward for knee pain. Read on!

About Walking Backward

Its name is self-explanatory, so we will go directly to other details about this walking technique. First, it is also known as retro walking.

Secondly, it is a practical approach to fitness and rehab. It has several benefits that revolve around knee pain. However, there are other benefits too.

Its biomechanics differ from those of typical walking. For instance, the heel will strike the ground first when walking forward.

They then roll into the toes, thus propelling your body forward.

On the other hand, the toe strikes the ground first when you walk backward. Then, it rolls back to your heels.

Due to the retro movement, muscles engage and strain more. The consequent stimulus is unique.

Why You Should Walk Backward for Knee Pain

It turns out that walking backward has several benefits if you are experiencing knee pain. They include the following;

It Strengthens the Supporting Muscles

If you walk backward, you will strengthen various muscles, including the ones at the calf, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Therefore, this strength enhances knee joint stability.

You will be surprised by how much difference a stable knee joint can have when experiencing knee pain. It has proven effective in reducing such pain.

To make it even better, strong supporting muscles also prevent new injuries. In other words, you will kill two birds using a single stone.

It Reduces Impact on Your Knees

Can you imagine how excruciating it would be to exert pressure on a knee experiencing pain? Such an impact is enough to make the pain quite substantial.

Therefore, ensuring that not too much stress gets to your knee joints is crucial. Fortunately, walking backward has proven effective in this respect.

That’s especially necessary when making a heel strike. After all, your knee would have to experience much impact if you were to walk backward under such circumstances.

On the other hand, retro walking or backward walking will reduce this pressure significantly. That’s a huge source of relief to anyone with knee pain.

That also applies to someone with osteoarthritis and other similar conditions.

It Enhances Your Knee’s Straightening Ability

Various things often tamper with your knee extension. This limited range of motion can arise from knee arthritis, knee surgery, or knee injury, to mention a few.

Regardless of the cause, walking backward can relieve knee pain, especially when straightening it. After all, it allows you to straighten the bent knee fully as you move from the toes to your heel.

As the range of motion improves, it alleviates the pain and promotes full recovery.

It Improves Coordination and Balance

You are most likely experiencing knee pain because of an injury. Fortunately, you can prevent an injury by walking backward.

The technique is also ideal during rehabilitation after an injury. So, both approaches are excellent for your knee pain.

You are most likely wondering about the effectiveness of walking backward in this case. As you walk backward, you will require extra balance and coordination.

As you strive to maintain that demand, your efforts strengthen your core muscles. Equally important, your overall proprioception improves.

Under such circumstances, the chances of experiencing an injury are reduced drastically. Rehabilitation after an injury also improves.

When Shouldn’t You Walk Backward for Knee Pain?

As much as walking backward is effective when dealing with knee pain, there are times when you shouldn’t consider this approach. Otherwise, it could do more harm than good.

For instance, don’t try it if you have conditions such as a traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease. The same case applies to the elderly and people with balance issues.

Unless a medical professional says it is safe to walk backward, don’t do it if you have had surgery or injuries recently. That’s also the case for limited motion and pain.

How to Walk Backward for Knee Pain Safely

One can’t insist on the need to stay safe when walking backward, regardless of whether you are doing it for knee pain or any other reason.

It is okay to walk backward anywhere as long as you maintain safety. The best way to remain safe is to do so on a low-impact treadmill.

After all, there are low chances of tripping over something when on the belt, thus avoiding subsequent falls.

Nevertheless, you can never be too safe when walking backward, even on a treadmill. That’s why the following precautions are highly recommended.

  • The best speed to start with should be 0.5 miles per hour.
  • It is okay to increase the speed, but it should be gradual, not forgetting to listen to your body to ensure it is comfortable with the pace.
  • If there is even the slightest chance of toppling while walking backward, reduce your speed immediately.
  • As much as it adds fun to workout sessions, it is not a good idea to listen to music, watch TV, or multitask when walking backward.
  • It is advisable to use the handrails while at it.
  • Ensure that someone is aware of your treadmill activities and that individual should keep checking up on you.
  • Unless there is someone to check up on you as you walk backward, avoid doing it if you have balance problems.
  • Hold onto the treadmill’s emergency release cord as well.
  • You can add an incline only once you are comfortable walking backward. It is suitable for endurance and strength, but only if it doesn’t mean risking your life.

Always remember that every second spent walking backward benefits your body. So, no need to overexert yourself for results.


Walking backward for knee pain would be best since it is pretty effective. That’s because of the various mechanisms it applies to your knees.

Besides eliminating knee pain, it also prevents injuries that may cause an onset of the pain. So, give it a shot, and remember there is no need to overdo it.

You will also benefit from it in other ways. The bottom line is that walking backward is a beneficial workout worth spending time on.

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