Defy Gravity

alter_g_bannerAuthor: Tyson Sanchez, PT, COMT, CEAS

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, training for a race or looking to improve your speed, the Alter G can be of great assistance. This anti-gravity treadmill is designed to help assist in rehabilitating those with lower extremity injuries, including stress fractures, cartilage and ligament repair, ankle sprains, IT band pain as well as knee and hip pain. It has also been an effective tool in helping those with low back pain to regain endurance and lower extremity strength during their recovery. Runners looking to improve their performance can also use the Alter G to improve form, recover from injury, and prevent further injuries. Those running multiple races in a given year have utilized it to continue running and training without the added stress on their joints.

How the Alter G works is by helping to “de-weight” the participant down to 20-99% of their normal weight using differential air pressure technology. For example, if a 180 lb. runner gets into the Alter G set at 50% assistance, they will be putting half of the normal weight through their lower extremities or pressure equal to that of a 90 lb. person running. Because the Alter G can go all the way down to 20% of your normal “weight,” it can be like walking or running on the moon, which only has 20% of Earth’s gravity. This can be a very effective tool in rehabilitating patients who are using crutches after surgery or serious injury. When a patient must spend 6-8 weeks on crutches, a lot of the musculature in the lower extremities and spine can become very hypertonic and stiff. Walking in the Alter G allows the patient to more naturally go through the gait cycle, preventing stiffness and muscle atrophy during their recovery. The joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments all assume a sense of normalcy when walking in the Alter G, unlike using crutches and aquatic therapy. This results in the body’s proprioceptive system (sense of body position) sensing more normal joint and muscle use, decreasing swelling and positively feeding into a quicker recovery from injury.

Runners looking to improve their performance can do so in a number of ways in the Alter G. There are a number of protocols designed to help improve speed and endurance, as well as improve form flaws identified by your health care provider. In my clinic, I utilize data collected in a video gait analysis to help runners improve their mechanics while in the Alter G. While the person is running “at a lighter weight” they can more effectively rehearse running with improved foot strike, drag angle, stride angle, neutral pelvic positioning and more. The degree of assistance can be controlled digitally and recorded to track progress and recovery. Gradually decreasing assistance as they progress towards mastering their flaws has been extremely effective in helping to enhance their running experience and performance.

Elite-level marathon runners and ultra-marathon runners have used the Alter G to increase their mileage with much less risk for injury. They’ve also used it as means for not slowing down when they encounter injury. On the other end of that, it has been used to perform speedwork at 1-2 mph faster than they’d normally be able to, again, stimulating the proprioceptive system and leading to better performance.

Because collegiate and professional teams have the Alter G, and some of your favorite athletes have used it during their post-surgical recovery, including Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant, you can rest assure that the top surgeons trust and encourage its use.

Run without pain and recover quicker!

To set up a free trial or to schedule a full session, please call 312-337-3673 (Lincoln Park), 773-989-6472 (Lincoln Square) or 708-934-7062 (Oak Park).

About the author:
Tyson Sanchez is the Center Manager of NovaCare Physical Therapy located inside FFC’s Lincoln Park location. He is a manually-trained physical therapist with a specialty in outpatient orthopedics and has worked with runners and other top-level athletes throughout his career.