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Friday, July 27, 2012

Backwards Treadmilling

Disclaimer: This activity can cause serious injury.  Please speak to your health care provider and/or trainer to make sure this activity is right for you before you attempt it.

As I get older I realize more and more that youth is not always superior and there is a lot to be said for experience and the wisdom that comes with it.  Of course that doesn't mean that I would mind a bit of botox between the eyes to get rid of those damn lines, or 'experience wrinkles'.  But lets face it, our society still worships youth and beauty.

And I have to admit, I am vulnerable to this too.  A few months ago Adam and I were forced to come to terms with the fact that our beautiful, sleek, 5.5 year old treadmill was dying.  This is it below (we never even took off the tag!):



The guy who services it for us explained that residential treadmills are generally not built to sustain a lot of mileage (i.e. the manufacturers anticipate you'll end up hanging laundry off it after a few months) and we were going to end up having to replace the motor and belt on an annual basis.  For a cost of about $800, this made absolutely no sense.  He recommended we purchase a commercial grade treadmill.  The only problem?  They cost between $6,000-$10,000.


Since the service company works for a lot of gyms in Toronto, I asked if they had any refurbished models from one of them that we might be able to afford.  Sure enough, they had 2 in stock that were under $2,000.  Both were well over a decade old, however, the frames and consoles were the only original parts, and everything else was brand new.  Never-the-less, when we went to look at them, I couldn't get past how old and ugly they looked.  It simply seemed odd that we were going to trash our 'pretty' one for a dinosaur.  But eventually, I came around to the idea that sturdy and dependable is better than pretty.   I am very glad I did, because our new one is smooth and strong and everything you want in a treadmill.  That's it below:




So what if it looks dated?  I actually don't even notice it anymore and now that I've gotten used to it, I don't think it's that bad.

Anyways...

In an effort to keep my body sturdy and dependable, I am always trying to improve my fitness and challenge myself in different ways.  I'm still limited a bit by my hamstrings, which are still a vulnerable area, and by the fact that I have to do most of my activity in our home gym, since I work out first thing in the morning and Adam is usually leaving for work just as I'm getting started.  I figure it's still another 5-6 years until Big A is old enough to be home alone watching Little A!  So I alternate between stairmaster, walking/running on the treadmill, and Insanity DVDs for cardio. 

As much as I love power hill walking, it's the one thing I still really can't do much of because it puts too much stress on my hamstring tendons.  Sometimes I do lateral training on the treadmill (like galloping sideways), but I was looking for something else to do when I decided to explore facing backwards on the treadmill.  My research indicated that this would target quads, calfs and shins, and is a great way to also work on balance and core strength. 

Admittedly when I first tried it, it felt very strange, and Adam also thought I'd lost my mind.  But I am now very comfortable, and love incorporating this activity into my workouts.  It's best to start out very slow, and gradually increase speed and incline.  I find that speed walking backwards gets my heart rate up higher than jogging backwards at the same speed (same is true of facing forwards), but I feel a bit less steady when walking.  I generally integrate intervals of it into my routine and alternate with running forwards and lateral work.  After the first time, I woke up 48 hours later with extremely sore feet and shins, which actually pleased me because I was hitting muscles that I'd clearly been neglecting.  My bodies adjusting to it now so I don't get as sore, but I love the challenge of doing something new and different.

Keep in mind that this activity may not be suitable for anyone with a medical condition or muscluloskeletal issue that affects balance.   It can be very dangerous and can cause serious injury if you fall, so make sure to check with a health professional to ensure that this is an appropriate activity for you before you try it.