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16th December 2019  •  Read 0 times

Walking, running and training on the Moon – right here in Hemel Hempstead

The AlterG® is an Anti-Gravity Treadmill developed by NASA (NASA – wow, I know!) researchers in the 1990s. It creates an unloading, un-weighted effect so you can return to walking or running faster after surgery or major injury.

It sounds too good to be true. So how does it work? There is basically a bubble, on the treadmill, that’s where the vacuum is created. You enter a cockpit area on top of the treadmill, and it creates a bubble around your hips. This bubble inflates with air and that’s where the unloading effect happens.

The effect of gravity can then be reduced, down to 20% of your body weight which is the same as if you were walking on the moon! If you have read my previous blog you will know that I have had an issue with lower back pain and running since then has been uncomfortable, actually no, it’s been painful. SO imagine my smile when at 75% of my body weight I found myself running but without pain! I wasn’t just smiling, I was beaming. My running felt easy, I felt supple and there was no pain. I haven’t felt this good for so long and I’ve really missed it.

Runners are the worst. We don’t want to stop running, running makes us happy, except when we have pain. This first run on the AlterG meant everything to me. Returning to 100% gravity was a light bulb moment for me: You don’t know the difference of 100% gravity unless you’re an astronaut!

I was completely oblivious to how much gravity presses down on us until I was exposed to a different level of gravity, it felt like I had a giant over my shoulders.

But please don’t think the AlterG treadmill is only for runners and young fit people. You can also squat, lunge, heel raise, jump and hop in it, all with the same anti-gravity effect. Now if I put my physio brain into gear it starts racing away with all the potential for rehabilitation and helping people move and recover more quickly. From, post-surgery patients like total hip and knee replacements, lower limb fractures, ACL reconstruction (cruciate ligament) to OA (wear and tear) pain, obesity and so on.

The AlterG treadmill can help people of all ages, including people who are finding walking difficult because of a fear of falling. Previously the challenge has been to exercise in a safe way because if you improve your strength, balance and cardiovascular function this reduces your risk of falling, but for many people, this can be too challenging and even scary. Well, the great news is that the AlterG creates a fall-safe environment and allows you to work at the level that is challenging enough to make a difference but not too hard that you fail.

You don’t need a referral, just give us a call on 01442 331 900 to arrange an appointment with one of us in the physiotherapy team. I am telling you; you really want to try this piece of equipment, it’s a game-changer!

(Now I’ve finished writing this blog I can get back onto it!)

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About the author
Daniel Apostol

MSK Physiotherapist

I am a supporter and promoter for the implementation of research and evidence into physiotherapy practice. What does this mean? It means that I combine my clinical expertise with the most up to date and trusted clinical evidence available to offer the best possible outcome for you and what you want to try and achieve. My treatment often includes, strength and mobility exercises, manual therapy (also known as hands-on therapy) and education. Importantly, each treatment session is individual to you and your specific situation, supporting and helping your pain to decrease and restoring your function.

An additional strength and conditioning certification will mean that if you come and see me, you won’t find you are just given a boring sheet of exercises and told to do them all 10 times and 3 sets for the next 2 months. Instead it will be scientifically based on the current stage of your condition/cause of pain, your health and fitness, your strength and movement, your level of pain and your motivation.  I can use a wide variety of interventions to help you safely return to the activities you previously enjoyed, sports you loved and just as importantly, everyday life.

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