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Taking a controlled backwards step – holding balance in reverse

February 14, 2014

Taking a backward step

There are many times in everyday activities however where you step back without thinking about it.  Looking in a mirror and stepping back for a better look or moving out of the way in a crowded room to let someone pass by.  Backing up to get something you passed by in a grocery store.  And on and on the list goes.

How many times have you seen someone stumble or “trip over their own feet” when performing this “simple” action?

So what is the process of doing this simple maneuver safely?

Keep in mind that stepping back, or retreating, is in essence a defensive maneuver.  As you move back, it needs to under control.

Balance and control in this step enables you to move out of the position, shift back to a forward step, or incorporate resistance as you move back.

Starting from an upright or home stance:

  • Shift your center to one side and raise the opposite heel. This puts you into a balanced position on your support leg and able to more your non-weighted leg.
  • Move your leg back and lightly out the side,  placing your toe down, all the while holding balance on your support leg.
  • Once your toe hits slowly shift your center back over the rear leg, slowly dropping your heel as your shift.  You should feel support in the rear foot and leg as this happens and not a “falling back” action.
  • During this shift back you should experience a sideways shifting sensation. If not, you may need to move your foot out to the side a bit wider as you move your leg back.
  • The purpose of this wide step is that you, in theory and practice, should end up in a fairly wide and stable position.
  • With your weight now on your rear leg, find your balance position as you raise your  front toe, and repeat the step back process with your toe raised foot.
  • Repeat and repeat.  You should be experiencing a side to side “sway” as your move backward with each step.
  • Move as slowly as you can through this exercise, holding balance while you work at sensing each phase of the movement and building control of the motion. 
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