My experience using the AlterG, an anti-gravity treadmill, to rehab a metatarsal stress fracture.
You guys, I ran. Twice. *MERRY CHRISTMAS, EMILY!*
Mind you it was with 70-80% of my body weight at a 10 min mile pace, but I ran for the first time in 12 weeks. This is all thanks to the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill. Therefore, I’m stepping away from the holiday related-posts to share my experience so far.
What is the AlterG?
It’s a treadmill meant for injury rehabilitation that allows you to run at a percentage of body weight. You can reduce gravity’s impact by choosing anywhere between 20% and 100% of your body weight to run with (source). It helps people recover from lower extremity injuries without losing too much fitness. Basically, it’s a way for runners to get their fix when injured.
I’ve been out of the boot for one month and have been doing low-impact cardio (Spinning, elliptical) without pain for two weeks….I WANTED TO RUN.
I had a feeling this wouldn’t be easy for a few reasons:
1) My cardio is shot (which actually didn’t matter in this case)
2) I’ve heard that it’s hard to stay balanced and you have to focus on this treadmill (true)
3) I’ve been told that some minor discomfort around the point of injury is normal during recovery.
This last part worried/worries me because it’s hard to decipher “good” pain from “bad” pain when dealing with a bone injury. Any pain seems like a bad thing to me, although my PT reassured me that some discomfort is normal during recovery.
My first run was at 70% of my body weight for 30 minutes. The second run was at 80% of my body weight for 30 minutes. Both were for a total of 3 miles. I could have gone faster or longer but I’d rather work toward running at full weight first.
I was surprised how easy it was endurance-wise, then again, it felt like pool running with a nice float around my waist, which isn’t super hard. Spinning left me panting for breath, just as a comparison. I did sweat but not nearly as much as on a regular run. As for pain, I felt some on one foot during the first run and some on the other foot during the second run. Hopefully it’s all gone during the third run and not the other way around. It wasn’t a bad pain by any means but I noticed it, like my PT said I might.
The technology itself is pretty amazing. You wear special compression-like shorts (over your pants) and get “zipped” into the machine.
The machine then calculates your weight and adjusts according to the percentage you select. Just like you arrow up or down for speed on the treadmill, you arrow up and down for the percentage of body weight. As you decrease the percentage, the machine inflates and you feel more like you’re running in space. Not that any of us knows what that’s like. As you increase the percentage it feels more like a regular treadmill.
The only (kind of) bad thing: if you have an itch on your leg, tough luck. You can’t reach anywhere below your waist. That’s a price I’m willing to pay, though.
I booked two sessions for next week and plan to increase the body weight percentage each time (pain depending, of course). If all goes well I will feel more comfortable trying to run on land come Jan 1.