Once upon a time when I was laid up with a hip stress fracture, I wondered if I would ever run without pain again. I actually had dreams of running pain free – in these dreams I would be running and suddenly realize that nothing hurt. It was the best and most liberating feeling in the world. Then, I would wake up and turn over to find my crutches beside my bed and think “Ugh. Another day on those things. Another day of this no running bullshit.”
It was kind of like when you were a kid and you woke up and thought it was Saturday, then realized it was Tuesday and that you had to get up for school. Major let down. Makes a grown man cry.
It was about that time that I learned about the anti-gravity treadmill – the Alter-G.
This machine, designed for NASA astronauts, allows people to run using just a portion of their body weight (up to only 20%!) thereby greatly lessening impact. The injured can run again! Those stricken with arthritis can walk/run pain free! Safe for seniors! Allows overweight folks to run using less of their body weight.
You may even remember that I wrote about how this amazing piece of equipment as I drooled over the thought of being able to run on an injured hip. I searched around but could never find a place where I could try one out. Until now.
A couple weeks ago Outside PR contacted me. Guess who is one of their new clients? Alter G. And guess who just acquired a new Alter G treadmill? The Life Care Center of Colorado, which is about three miles from my house. What are the chances?? Alter G and I were destined to hook up, but not in the biblical sense.
Using this device involves getting into a pair of neoprene shorts topped with a stiff reinforced fabric that encircles the waist. I love stiff things, so this was perfect. I call this my stiff tutu or fart chamber.
The lower half of my body was sealed in and air was pumped in. It felt good. Here I am trying to figure out the controls. You can choose the percentage of body weight you want to run at, speed (which only goes up to 12mph. Don’t they know I run a solid 13 mph?), and incline. It can also go in reverse. Fancy.
I couldn’t resist some SUAR footage. If you ever felt bad for thinking I was kind of dramatic and dorky, I give you full permission to embrace those thoughts after watching this (and no I didn’t really wear my medal and yes I need a tan, a haircut and a root job).
The funniest part was, when she was suiting me up the physical therapist said, “I read your blog and just so you know no bowel explosions in the shorts.” Good thing I don’t get embarrassed easily.
I started at 80% body weight and went down from there. Eventually I was at 20% body weight. At this point you feel you are barely touching the treadmill. For every 10% of body weight you decrease, you should add .4 mph of speed to keep your cardio equivalent. Or something like that. I wasn’t taking notes and should have been.
Getting my groove. Not even a fart escaped, but your lower body is in its own chamber anyway, so I say fart away! That alone is totally worth the $30K that these babies cost.
As you are running on less body weight, a forefoot strike is encouraged.
Then they let Ken try it:
I don’t wish I were injured, but I can only fantasize about how amazing it must feel to have pain with walking/running, then to get on one of these things and move pain free and resume training. Thanks to Outside PR and Life Care for giving me the opportunity!
I wish I could do an Alter-G giveaway. When I am rich from my acting skills, I will buy one and give away one.
Would you want to try this thing? Or have you already?