Try It: AlterG Treadmill Training

If you follow the training of professional runners, you may notice that many of them utilize an AlterG® at some point or another to either add volume without additional stress on the body or to maintain fitness while recovering from an injury.

Even though the great majority of us are not training to compete at the highest level, we can still take advantage of this technology. Locally, you can run on an AlterG® at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Medicine Runners’ Clinic.

Below, Sara Ziegele, DPT with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Medicine Runners’ Clinic tells us more about how runners can benefit from this training tool.

Can you start off by telling us a bit about how an AlterG® treadmill works?

The AlterG® is a specialized treadmill that allows an individual to run or walk at partial body weight. For example, an individual weighing 150 pounds can set the treadmill to 50 percent and have only 75 pounds impact the treadmill. The runner wears a specifically designed pair of shorts that zip into a waist-height “tent” around the treadmill. The “tent” inflates with air to place an upward force on the lower body and reduce the weight.

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What are the benefits of using an AlterG® treadmill?

Runners can maintain cardiovascular conditioning while minimizing stress on the lower body, reduce compensations and habits that develop from running with pain and return to running sooner than on the ground.

Can you tell us more about the degree of lift? How is the degree of lift determined for each participant?

The AlterG® can be set between 20 percent and 100 percent of body weight. That translates to more than 80 percent of your weight being held up by the air. The degree of lift will be individually determined by the Runners’ Clinic staff. Usually, runners recovering from impact injuries are set between 50-75 percent. Uninjured runners are set between 75- 95 percent.

Can you tell us more about how an AlterG® treadmill benefits each of the following groups?

  • Injured or recovering runners: Allows the runner to return to training sooner while unloading the injured region
  • Runners looking for a performance boost: Allows the runner to maximize cardiovascular training while reducing lower extremity stress
  • Runners just getting into running/exercise: Allows the runner to gradually increase the training load

How do you recommend runners incorporate AlterG® treadmill running into their training?

Training strategies on the AlterG® are very similar to any other surface. A runner should build up gradually to avoid overtraining. The higher percentage of body weight, the more natural the mechanics.

What’s the procedure for using the AlterG® treadmill at the Runners’ Clinic? Can people use the treadmill even if they are not a current Runners’ Clinic patient?

The AlterG® is available at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Medicine Runners’ Clinic for patients and uninjured runners. Runners currently completing physical therapy (PT) can incorporate the treadmill into their rehabilitation program. To use the AlterG outside of PT, fees range from $15 (single, 30-minute sessions) to $175 (12-60 minute sessions across the course of a month), with additional options available.

Thanks for chatting with us, Dr. Ziegele! To learn more about Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Medicine Runners’ Clinic, visit their website or call 414.805.7114.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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