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Abstract

The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of backward walking on hamstring flexibility and low back range of motion. Ten healthy female volunteers (29.9±10.0 yr; 165.1±8.2 cm; 68.53±18.4 kg) completed pre-post laboratory testing surrounding a 4-week intervention of backward walking. During the pretest, each participant walked forward on a treadmill at a preferred velocity for 3-5 min. A biaxial electrogoniometer was secured externally to the low back and a sit-and-reach test was performed. Each participant then walked backward at their preferred pace on a treadmill for 10 min, during which time low back motion data were obtained (1000 Hz). Following the pretest, participants completed an intervention of walking backward at a self-selected velocity for 10-15 min/day, 4 days/week. This was followed by a posttest, using the exact protocol as the pretest. Dependent variables consisted of pre-post measures of: 1) backward walking velocity (VEL), 2) flexibility of the hamstrings (HF), low back sagittal plane range of motion (sROM), and low back coronal plane range of motion (cROM). Correlated t-tests (α = 0.05) with Bonferroni correction identified significant (p < 0.001) differences in VEL and HF. Low back motion parameters (sROM, cROM) were not significantly different (p > 0.0125) following the intervention. Results of the study suggest that a 4-week intervention of backward walking appears to provide an appropriate stimulus for an increase in flexibility of the hamstrings. A possible interaction between VEL and sROM or cROM limited the interpretation of observed non-significant changes in low back motion.