As someone with rickety knees from my many years as a long and triple jumper in track, I'll do anything I can to keep my knees in check. So, for over a year now, I've been using some of my favorite principles and exercises from Ben Patrick, including walking backwards with awesome results.
I've been preaching on the importance of walking for a while now. It is definitely one of my favorite forms of movement. Here are 5 reasons you should go for a walk right now. But, I also truly believe in moving in as many different ways as possible. Including walking backward and sideways. A 2018 study even found that stroke patients who practiced backwards walking had better outcomes at the 1 month post intervention mark. Just like walking forward, it requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere at any point in time. However, as you can imagine, it does require a bit more balance and brain power. This 2020 study found that walking backward activated the brain more than walking forward. Sounds like a win-win (win-win-win) in my book.
If you watched the video I linked to above, Ben Patrick goes deep into the research ad understanding on why moving your knees past your toes IS important and the old adage, "never let your knees go past your toes" has done NONE of us any good.
There are a few ways you can even enhance your backward walking skills. You could choose to walk backward up a hill. You could walk backward on a treadmill while it's turned off (resistance!). You can pull a sled backward. All of these backward movements will add more stimulation to the movement, creating more strength, balance and power.
What about the kiddos, you ask? They should walk backward, too! They need all the help they can get when it comes to brain development. This has even been studied in children with cerebral palsy and AHDH. Now you and your children can walk around the park backward. Just smile and wave at everyone who stares. And ask them to join, too!