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Climbing the Mountain – Backwards?

A patient asked me about someone they saw doing an elliptical trainer at the gym – backwards. Not facing backwards mind you; I am speaking of walking/climbing facing forwards with feet moving with backwards rotation.  What’s it about?  Well, as long as you don’t get too confused or fall off, it’s really good to add some of this.  Essentially, it works the same muscles, but converts them from contracting concentrically to contracting eccentrically, and vice-versa.  Now, it is important to have both concentric and eccentric contractions.  But do you need to do this on the Elliptical, and is it really useful, and is there any possible repurcussion / negative impact?

The ellipticals are set up to mimic the natural movement of your body through walking, skiing or jogging. Doing this backwards will feel unnatural, but will actually provide your muscles and your workout with an added dimension.  Are there negatives? Not really, in moderation. The balance points and angles of the foot pedals are set up for a forward lean. There is a possibility you could have stress points on your ankles, knees and hips with this movement, if you overdid it, although that’s not clear. Just to be safe, I would not suggest you push for high distance and high speed under a high load in this reverse direction. As you will see, it’s not entirely natural, but not too bad, either.

A reasonable suggestion would be to add a “run out” at the end of your elliptical workout like a cool-down, where you go in reverse. Try that one; I did and it both made a lot of sense and felt great.  Here is a link to a website talking about this…

And one to my friend Joe Uveges’ website, to credit his song “Still Climbing” for the inspiration for, and title of today’s installment. He is here in Portland on Thursday, August 5, at the Island Cafe on the river.

Oh yeah, I don’t recommend you do that backwards thing on a treadmill; if you do, I have a feeling we are going to end up talking about some other problem! Set up an appointment here.

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