Mature adhesions in a motile fibroblast can be classified as stationary "towing" adhesions in the front and sliding trailing adhesions that resist the traction force. Adhesions formed at the front of motile fibroblasts rarely reach the trailing zone, due to disassembly promoted by intensive microtubule targeting. Here, we show that the majority of adhesions found at the trailing edge originate within small short-lived protrusions that extend laterally and backwards from the cell edge. These adhesions enlarge by sliding and by fusion with neighboring adhesions. A further subset of trailing adhesions is initiated at a novel site proximal to trailing stress fibre termini. Following tail retraction, trailing adhesions are actively regenerated and the stress fibre system is remodeled accordingly; the tensile forces elaborated by the contractile actin system are consequently redirected according to trailing adhesion location. We conclude that persistent and dynamic anchorage of the cell rear is needed for the maintenance of continuous unidirectional movement of fibroblasts.