10 Benefits of Walking Backward

Kneesovertoesguy
5 min readNov 5, 2023

At this point I’ve walked backward over 300 miles.

Here’s what I’ve learned…

1. Knee Health

In 1978 it was found that more pressure is on the knee when it’s over your toes.

This was interpreted as something bad, and the main advice in the college education system became “no knees over toes.” Little was done to further understand the subject.

But walking backward allows you to both strengthen and heal in that position:

The standard ATG advice is 5–10 minutes, which results in tremendous power for your body to heal naturally. This is because you CAN grow and strengthen the structures inside your knee. Compared to muscles, it’s harder to get blood supply deep into the joint.

Walking backward is a solution to the problem of how to start safely rebuilding a knee.

2. Foot Health

With each step, you’re pushing through your toes and loading your foot structures, so an unexpected byproduct for myself and others has been eliminating plantar fasciitis.

Most thigh exercises use a flat foot. This can lead to long term imbalance of foot strength vs upper thigh strength. Walking backward helps you even this out.

3. Lower Leg Health

Things like shin splints and Achilles tendinitis also seem to benefit from walking backward.

I had nasty shin splints for years.

Backward walking plus exercises like tibialis raises, FHL calf raises, and KOT calf raises handled it for me, and they’ve never come back.

This has now been reported by hundreds of other ATGers.

All that pushing through the feet, with the knee over the toes, has to help, since you’re loading lower leg muscles uniquely compared to traditional leg workouts.

4. Cardio!

As you heal your lower body, you’re able to push harder, and as you push harder… you wind up huffing and puffing!

This is a cool side effect which I appreciate even more now that I’m a parent of two toddlers, with less me-time.

I still do 10 minutes as Step 1 on leg days, and I push hard enough to be sweating and breathing heavily.

5. Leg Strength!

As your knees heal and you increase resistance, the legs power up!

Dragging a sled on turf is a great way to add resistance.

The treadmill at your local gym may have some resistance when not turned on.

I make the Backward Treadmill shown in this article, which has variable resistance and no electricity.

Most treadmills cost over $3,000.

Ours is $600 — only $480 for members — since I committed to anything I make being 20% off for ATGers.

The Backward Treadmill takes more work to get into a rhythm than an electric treadmill does, but it allows more results than electric treadmills!

I’ve coached over 100 people on the Backward Treadmill. I’ve been using it in my own workouts for over a year now. I’m more obsessed with it than ever.

In particular, walking backward with resistance emphasizes the vastus medialis, the teardrop muscle by your knee.

It was once found that you cannot isolate the vastus medialis, meaning when you try to work one of your quad muscles (your four thigh muscles), you work them all.

But years later it was found that you can EMPHASIZE the vastus medialis. When your knee is over your toes, you seem to proportionally develop more of your vastus medialis while still strengthening the rest of your quads.

The vastus medialis is the first muscle that contracts when your knee is under pressure, and having a good ratio of it has been found to equate with less knee pain.

I never based any ATG exercises on scientific studies.

However, one of our certified ATG coaches, Brian Ziegler, is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and he’s taken the time to write up some of the recent scientific findings. His articles are excellent and can be found here.

6. Deceleration

Walking backward with resistance allows you to safely improve your ability to go downhill.

In sports, you can experience increased ability to stop on command.

7. Speed

It seems that improvement in a knee over toes position allows you to start sprinting faster since your shin can achieve a closer angle to the ground, with greater comfort and strength.

Also, when you approach your top speed, a stronger and healthier knee seems to add some additional spring.

8. Jumping

I had given up on trying to dunk.

Then I started knees over toes training.

After significant progress, I found out I could dunk. I was shocked. It didn’t feel like real life.

But the knee is the #1 jump barrier.

So when you turn a weak knee into a strength, you change your potential for jumping.

Jumping is the most injurious knee activity because you’re directly experiencing impact — both at takeoff and landing — with your knee over your toes.

Now jumping feels so comfortable. The result is being able to jump with greater intention and better form. The result of that is recovering back with increased adaptations to jump even higher. But if your knee hurts, it’s difficult to stimulate the adaptation needed to go even higher.

9. Knee Bulletproofing

Walking backward is a gateway exercise to greater ability of the knee.

I never guessed I’d wind up a knee coach.

Knees were my biggest downfall.

I simply made tiny, incremental progress over time.

Walking backward is the first step on that route.

So even though I consider walking backward more of a healing exercise than a bulletproofing one, I think it’s important to keep in mind that it enhances the results of more advanced knee exercises.

10. Mental!

I really got my vigor back for life when I found I could DO something to reduce my knee pain and increase my knee ability.

Rest, ice, painkillers… these don’t improve the ABILITY of your knees.

Walking backward does.

No more waiting, hoping, and sitting on the sideline.

Not to mention the hormone rush you get from a vigorous workout!

Conclusion

Walking backward is the lowest level of knees over toes training.

Walking backward in itself is effective, but it’s also a gateway to further ability.

Thank you for reading and using this data to help others.

And apologies in advance for the next hundred videos and articles about walking backward. It might be boring, but it must be done. I appreciate your patience with me on this journey.

Yours in Solutions,

Ben

ATG

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