In the 90’s, NASA began looking for a pressurized method that would allow astronauts to maintain fitness during space missions. The "anti-gravity treadmill" was originally invented by Robert Whalen, a biomechanics researcher at NASA Ames Research Center, in the 1990s. Whalen knew that astronauts on the International Space Station have to exercise for hours each day to combat the loss of bone mass and muscle in microgravity.
Whalen's idea never progressed and in 2005, the technology was licensed to a company called AlterG, which coined the term "anti-gravity treadmill." Instead of adding weight to astronauts in space, AlterG uses the technology to take the weight off of rehab patients and athletes recovering from lower limb injuries.
A very experiential process Before you begin, you put on a pair of freshly sanitized tight neoprene shorts over the top of your own shorts or tights. The shorts have a sort of skirt attached, and the skirt is lined with zipper teeth. You step onto the treadmill, inside a hole in its plastic casing, you pull up the bars which have the opposite size of a zipper and zipper yourself in so that, from the waist down, you're encased in an airtight plastic bag.
As you stand there, the treadmill measures your weight, (but doesn’t shout it to the world) and then using this information the machine calibrates what is 100% pressure for your body. The machine uses "unweighting technology" to make you feel up to 80 percent lighter—so if you weigh 100 kilogram, you could feel as light as 20 kilos on the treadmill. The terms "anti-gravity" and "unweighting technology" have been labelled as enthusiastic descriptions for what the machine actually does. The device uses an inflatable “tent” surrounding the lower extremities to place an upward force on the lower body and thereby reducing ground reaction forces in the lower limbs.
Seniors and the elderly get essential exercise using the support the machine provides, as do people who cannot normally support their own weight. The treadmill has been a proven option for neurological uses as well, including helping patients re-learn proper balance and gait which may assist transition to more independent movement.
The AlterG is a chance to practice increased walking speed or running without the fear of falling, It allows you to practice the movements and slowly gain confidence in your ability to move, by increasing the body weight on the treadmill until you are at 100%.
Benefits of using the AlterG Treadmill
- Reduces your weight from 100% to as low as 20% of your body weight in precise 1% increments for low-impact, pain-free movement.
- Supports normal gait mechanics and avoids development of compensatory strategies – unlike conventional body weight support alternatives such as hydrotherapy.
- Limit downtime by training through injuries and enabling a return to sport in better condition.
- Enables earlier post-surgery training.
- Increase training volume while minimizing stress-related injury.
- Encourage range of motion, shown to improve outcomes
- Real-time gait data and video monitoring help you use visual feedback to get better results faster.
- Sports Performance
- Chronic Conditions and Active Aging