Defying Gravity… NASA Style

Author: Jackie Culver

I recently had the opportunity to try a little anti-gravity technology.

As a 43 year old woman, I am all for anything that works against the never ending pull of gravity.

However, this is not the latest beauty treatment found at the office of Dr. Youth. It is a treadmill.  Now normally I am not a big fan of the “dreadmill”, but this is the special NASA-designed Alter-G treadmill!  Hey, if it’s good enough for the space program, it’s good enough for me!

The really cool thing about this machine is that you can actually control your running weight.  Users are fitted for special running shorts and are zipped into an anti-gravity chamber.  The treadmill then uses air pressure to calibrate your weight.  Once you are zipped and measured, you are ready to go. For the sensitive ones among us (me) do not worry, the fancy treadmill does not announce or display your weight. It’s just your little secret. Well maybe NASA knows, but I doubt they are telling anybody here.

I was very excited to try this new technology. I know that if I were to lose a little weight, I could probably run faster. I read once that an extra 5 pounds causes 25 pounds of pressure on your knees.

I have had a few knee issues so I was curious to see what it felt like to be a little lighter.  Once you are zipped and calibrated, you are able to make adjustments to your weight.  This takes a little getting used to!  I decreased my weight by 20% to start.  I played around with the weight and pace.  I was definitely able to run faster at a lower weight.  I also ran without any knee pain.  It was a very good workout and I was soaked with sweat by the time I was done with five miles. (Sorry about those special running shorts!)

So why run on an anti-gravity treadmill?

First it is a great way for athletes to keep up their fitness level while recovering from an injury.  Second, it is great for “overspeed” training.

When you are training at a much faster than normal pace, you cause new motor neurons to engage. It will actually make you faster when gravity rears its ugly head.  Third, it’s great for recovery runs. After a tough workout, you can take it “light”!

I have to admit, the whole time I was running, I was thinking about heavier clients that I have worked with.  For some of them, their extra weight made walking only a short distance very painful. I kept imagining what it would be like for that person to be able to walk for a mile without any pain. What a great workout that would be!

SML TIP:  In Jacksonville, you can try it out at the Personal Running Solutions AlterG Training Center located at 1435 Atlantic Boulevard.

If you are not in Jax, then check at some of your local physical therapy centers.  You just might like it!

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