Earlier this month, Red Dog Triathlon Training were given an exclusive look at RHP Physiotherapy’s brand new Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill at their Kelvin Grove offices. Here’s what we found out.

Designed by NASA to assist astronauts readjust to a life with gravity back on planet Earth, the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill helps reduce gravitationally induced strain on joints and muscles.  It works by creating a differential air pressure to give the user an experience of running without the usual weight bearing associated with running unaided.

The application to athletes is obvious - running normally whilst reducing gravity’s impact on their legs should enable athletes to exercise without pain, maintain or increase cardiovascular fitness and rehabilitate injuries faster.

Additionally, long course athletes can benefit from the Alter G by using the device to assist with additional training without overloading their legs, help to recover from an Ironman or marathon, or recover from an injury/surgery.

So, with the Alter G tipped to help injured athletes as well as Ironman athletes, who better to send than a perpetually injured “athlete” (that would be me) and an Ironman World Champion (Rosie) to check it out.

Rosie and I met Peter Wells at RHP’s Kelvin Grove Clinic earlier this month, with the only instructions being to wear tight fitting bike shorts along with our normal running kit.

The reason for the bike kit became apparent when we were informed that we would be zipped into the machine.  We  were presented with a pair of neoprene shorts with a zip attached in the form of a special triathlete tutu.

Rosie was first to try out the space-age looking treadmill - fully kitted out in her tutu - Rosie was asked to step into what amounted to a large industrial plastic bag. This bag was raised and locked into place at waist height so Rosie could be zipped into the bag, creating a seal for which the differential pressure could be formed.

Once the bag had been inflated, Rosie was free to begin running. The treadmill controls are exactly as you'd expect on a treadmill - speed, angle etc - but also includes a panel on Weight Control, that allows you to adjust down to 50% weight bearing.

Pretty eager to have a go myself, Rosie left it up to me to decide how I felt rather than overtly influence my judgement with her experiences - other than to make the astute observation that it was hot running in the plastic bag and that her tutu was now a little sweaty…

After I got myself strapped in (with a fresh shorts/tutu I might add) I was pretty keen to get started. Pete fired up the machine and the pressure could instantly be felt around my my legs - not uncomfortably so, but enough to know that you were in some way being suspended.

Pete warned that any problems with our techniques would be highlighted by having the weight taken off - and my gammy right leg was instantly more obvious, meaning I had to think hard about my technique and form.

Having the weight taken away was incredibly liberating. One of the things that instantly becomes apparent is that your cadence noticeably drops as Alter G takes more of your weight.

Whilst I was on the machine, Director of RHP Peter Wells was grilled by Rosie, mostly on whether or not taking the weight off whilst running could actually harm you when going back up to your “real” weight away from the Alter G.

“The great thing about the Alter G is that you can get the weight bearing up as well as having all the weight off your legs.” Peter said, “You can control the amount of stress and pressure that’s going through the tissue, which can assist in building strength on its own, without the pressure on the muscles and joints.”

Whilst Peter was saying this, he began to reduce the influence that the Alter G was having on my body, and frankly it felt horrible to be running even at 85% of my body weight compared to somewhere in the 70%s.

“It’s very important that you take it back up to your full body weight, but you will feel very heavy.”

Heavy was right. It is amazing how quickly you adapt to running at a percentage of your body weight and just how elephantine and clumsy you feel as the weight goes back on.

And as you move back up the weight scale, it’s clear that there is a “sweet spot” where you are at your most comfortable - which is different for everyone depending on their injury.

“I’ve had people on here who can run easily on 82%, but experience pain at 83% - it can be that precise.” Peter explained to us. “You’ll find a percentage that works well for you, and that will change as you improve your fitness and strength.”

I can see how the Alter G could be used after a race, when your body feels like it weighs 100x more than it should. And Peter re-iterated that fact, saying that “running on this can take the land off those tired muscles, which allows the body to flush out the system a lot easier.”

So how does this differ from water running?

Other than the fact you can avoid getting wet, with the Alter G you are actually running - just with less pressure as opposed to floundering in the pool, effectively treading water instead of maintaining good running form.

So it was a big thumbs up from us.

RHP Physiotherapy offers sessions for 20 minutes, 40 minutes and an hour. For more information, contact the clinic on %20var%20addy21905%20=%20'admin'%20+%20'@';%20addy21905%20=%20addy21905%20+%20'rhpphysiotherapy'%20+%20'.'%20+%20'com'%20+%20'.'%20+%20'au';%20document.write('%3Ca%20'%20+%20path%20+%20'\''%20+%20prefix%20+%20':'%20+%20addy21905%20+%20'\'%3E');%20document.write(addy21905);%20document.write('%3C\/a%3E');%20//--%3E%5Cn%20%3C/script%3E%3Cscript%20type='text/javascript'%3E%0A%20%3C!--%20document.write('%3Cspan%20style=\'display:%20none;\'%3E');%20//--%3E%0A%20%3C/script%3EThis%20email%20address%20is%20being%20protected%20from%20spambots.%20You%20need%20JavaScript%20enabled%20to%20view%20it.%0A%20%3Cscript%20type='text/javascript'%3E%0A%20%3C!--%20document.write('%3C/');%20document.write('span%3E');%20//--%3E%0A%20%3C/script%3E?subject=RDTT%20Alter%20G%20Enquiry" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: none; background: transparent; text-decoration-line: none; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); transition-timing-function: linear;"> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and pop in for a trial session.

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