Running on an Alter-G

Everything you wanted to know about running on an Alter-G Treadmill while recovering from an injury.

It’s like running on the moon.

Like most people, I’ve never run on the moon nor do I ever want to.  Space is scary.  But that’s the closest thing to describe what it’s like running on an Alter-G treadmill.

Before my stress fracture in the spring, I had never been on an Alter-G treadmill.  I had heard about it and knew that Tom Brady had one.  When I got my diagnosis of a stress fracture, my orthopedic suggested I go to a local physical therapist office that had an Alter-G even though I was going to another PT and was very happy with him.  All I heard was “You can run if you go to this new PT” so it didn’t take long for me to make the switch.

And if it’s good enough for Tom Brady, it’s good enough for me.  Although I’m not making a switch to the Tom Brady diet anytime soon.

I’ve had some questions about the Alter-G so I thought it would make a good blog post.  I’m not sure why I didn’t do this post back in the spring when I first used it.

The beauty of the Alter-G is that you can run even with an injury.  The key is to finding the right body weight support so the impact is lessened.  You can go with 100% body weight (which is no support) to as low as 20%.

The Alter-G is also beneficial for building speed and working on proper running form while allowing for faster leg turnover and added endurance, without adding stress to joints, muscles, and cardiovascular system.

Running on an Alter-G |

Some things to consider before running on an Alter-G:

1 ) Wear capris or something tight fitting on the bottom. You wear a funky contraption that looks like a wet suit with a hula hoop attached.

2 ) You are wearing a wet suit with a hula hoop that is zipped into a giant plastic bag that’s sealed.  You will sweat.  A LOT!

3 ) It feels like you are about to get the biggest wedgie of your life.  And it’s not just from the back.  It’s also in the front.  So comfy.  I also picture myself looking like Gru in Despicable Me 3 when he’s hanging from the giant balloon in the opening sequence.  Yup, I’m just like a cartoon.

4 ) Set the support bars lower than your hips.  You want to make sure you are able to have a normal arm swing.

5 ) Try to run as normal as possible.  It will feel like you are gliding and running like a gazelle but aim for a natural stride without landing on your toes.

6 ) Running on an Alter-G is way easier than running on a regular treadmill.  You most likely will find your easy pace feels painfully slow. A super quick pace on the road for you, will feel comfortable on the Alter-G.

On my first run on the Alter-G, I was able to run 20 minutes at 70% bodyweight with zero pain.  It felt great to move my body in a running position even if it was inside on a treadmill.  I swear I had a runner’s high for just that short amount of time.  It was a way to get a running fix without doing any more damage to my ankle injury.  And being able to run without hobbling.

Running on an ALter-G |

It’s also a great confidence booster.  I was able to increase the bodyweight even more on my next session to only 80%.  My PT told me that 80% and above is an indicator that you are ready to run on your own. Prior to that, I was apprehensive that my injured ankle wouldn’t be able to tolerate it even though I had been doing jumping drills on the Ladder without difficulty. Over the weekend, I felt ready to test out my ankle on the road and was pleasantly surprised that it felt good.

Even though I am back to running on my own, I am still using the Alter-G treadmill while in Physical Therapy.  Rather than 3-4 days a week of pounding my body right away with running at full bodyweight, we are gradually introducing running in a controlled manner. This week, I’ll run 2 days on the Alter-G and 1 day on the road.  Next week, I’ll run 1 day on the Alter-G and 2 days on the road. And continue from there.

The hardest thing about an Alter-G treadmill is finding one near you.  There’s about 1000 in the U.S.  If you are lucky enough to have one close to you, I highly recommend it if you are injured or if you want to take some of the weight away while doing speed work.  Or if you just want to feel like you are running on the moon.

Have you run on an Alter-G treadmill before?

Linking up with Coaches Cornerand Wild Workout Wednesday.


15 comments on “Running on an Alter-G

  1. I have used the Alter G several times when coming back from injuries and found it so helpful! The first time was in 2011 after having hip surgery. It allowed me to start running weeks before I could have run outside! Its definitely a strange feeling but also really fun to feel like you can run so fast.
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  2. I’ve never run on one, it sounds like a strange but awesome experience. I love that the perceived effort is easier than a regular TM, what a fun confidence booster!

  3. My son ran on the Alter-G after he sprained his MCL. He said it was pretty cool. I’d love to try it, but that wedgie thing sounds uncomfortable. Is it hard to run with that feeling?

  4. I have never tried an Alter-G but they intrigue me – definitely something I would want to use if I was ever injured. If I had the opportunity I wouldn’t pass it up even uninjured – it would be so interesting to see what pace I would go on it compared to outdoors!

  5. I LOVE the option of an Alter G when injured. Unfortunately, my PT just sold his so I don’t have one near me right now that I know of. 🙁

  6. I don’t think we have any of those nearby (but probably an hour away in Des Moines). I am so NOT a treadmill gal, but this definitely sound a little enticing….but the wedgie? that might be a deal breaker LOL

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