Have you ever wished you could go through your day with the weightlessness of an astronaut? Chances are, you’ve never actually thought about it but, if you could, would you choose to take a little pressure off your joints while exercising?
For years, medical professionals have directed patients with hip, knee and ankle pain to aquatic activities since the water reduces the amount of impact felt in the affected areas. Now, new technology is providing that same relief without the need of a pool.
Originally conceived in 1992 by Dr. Robert Whalen and Dr. Alan Hargens at the Ames Research Center, the Anti-Gravity Treadmill was initially intended for NASA astronauts at the Space Station. The idea was to create effective exercise regimens in order to reduce bone loss and muscle deterioration.
A company called AlterG adapted the technology to allow its use in training and rehabilitation and, since the first prototype was produced in 2006, popularity and availability has steadily grown.
The device works by controlling the air pressure surrounding the user’s lower body. A special chamber can be adjusted in 1% increments to allow for precise unweighting from 100%-20% body weight. It’s incredible since someone as light as 85lbs and someone as heavy as 400lbs can use the device and achieve relatively similar results.
Whether coping with a new injury or healing from an old one, there tends to be a middle ground between being unable to bear weight on it at all and being able to be fully active. The Anti-Gravity Treadmill allows users to test their limits while they gradually build strength.
Used by Elite Athletes
NBA fans may have recently seen pictures of both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James training on an Anti-Gravity Treadmill as part of their training for the upcoming season. Kobe is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon while his arch-rival, King James, has no known issues (except the need to continuously one-up, Kobe!).
Availability and Cost
Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend, you won’t likely be adding the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill to your home gym collection. It has, however, come down in price enough to see it showing up in physical therapy clinics, specialty training facilities and more.
To find a partial list of providers, visit the AlterG website. It may not make you dunk like Kobe, but it could help you keep the pep in your step!