Did you know that walking backwards is actually a USEFUL skill we need to learn as children?
Mikala Simon a Doctor of Physical Therapy who works in pediatrics tells us why.
Mikala states that learning to walk backwards is important because it helps with our balance as we age. Imagine falling forwards. We can catch ourselves with our hands when we fall forwards or sideways but backwards it is much harder. Typically when we start to lose our balance backwards we will take a step to correct our center of gravity.
Walking backwards also builds large muscle groups such as our hamstrings and calves.
Lastly, walking backwards not only helps when our balance is challenged but also helps during functional tasks such as walking out of a tight area like from behind the couch or away from the counter. It isn't realistic to walk in one direction for all tasks.
When should a child start walking backwards? Children should start walking backwards by 16 to 18 months. If your child is struggling with walking backwards or walking in general you can help by:
- Holding their trunk and helping them take little small steps. As this becomes easier for your child, hold onto their hands and assist them again with small steps backwards.
- Do you have a stroller or cart? How about a sturdy chair? You can play a game by having them go forward and backwards to a song while you assist as needed. Hold onto your child's trunk if they are less secure and the chair, toy, or their hands if they are more secure in this skillset.
- A classic toy such as a pull back animal or wagon helps child learn the skill of walking backwards. (Hence, why we LOVE classic toys here at @StagesOfFun ) Here a few examples with associated links: https://amzn.to/3buivVS
- You can also help your child, that is a bit more confident in their skillset, advance by creating an obstacle course for them to walk over, crawl under and walk backwards on. Sidewalk chalk or pieces of tape are great to guide the backwards walking area!
If you're worried your child should be walking backwards better, reach out to your pediatric physical therapist or your primary care provider.
If you are in South Dakota, you can schedule an appointment with Mikala Simon for your child virtually at ModernDayHealthCare.com and discuss your concerns and a plan of care.
Go have some FUN today!