Sunday, November 8, 2015

How to Run With Ridiculously Little Impact

Here’s something cool, though I just discovered it’s been around for more than six years! It’s called a “gravity-reducing” treadmill. A company called AlterG (Alter Gravity -- get it?) makes the machines.

Here’s an image I lifted from AlterG’s website (I doubt they’ll mind, as I’m basically doing free publicity by writing about their space-age treadmill). Cool but a bit weird-looking, eh?

So, you may be thinking, what’s going on in that strange-looking closed compartment below the runner’s waist?

Well, after the user is zipped into place, the air pressure is increased in that chamber, to simulate the effects of low gravity. A control panel allows a user’s body weight to be decreased in 1 percent increments, up to 80 percent.

Imagine that. A two-hundred-lb. man running on a treadmill as if he weighed no more than a five-year-old!

If this approach to exercise sounds kind of familiar, it should. I’ve mentioned plenty of times the idea of “unloading your joints.” Doug Kelsey is a huge proponent of this approach to make exercise pain free.

So naturally, I’m delighted to see anti-gravity treadmills. It’s a perfect machine for a knee pain sufferer looking for a way to get active again.

Well, almost perfect. Forget about buying one of these little workout gems. A recent Businessweek article priced them at $36,900 to $80,000. Ouch. But it sounds like they’re popping up in physical therapy clinics and tony gyms, so sniff around and you might find one near you.

If I have a chance to try out the treadmill -- you know, semi-popular bloggers sometimes get the chance to sample merchandise for a review ;), I’ll let you know. Or, if by chance any of you out there has used this anti-gravity device, let us know below what it was like.


  1. Dude, I am a 3 years chondromalacia sufferer. I want to tell you about my story and get some advices. Possible?

    1. Welcome! Well, first, I don't really give advice (I'm not a doctor or physical therapist). I try to share thoughts/insights that might be relevant and helpful. But also, there are some very smart people who frequent this blog, so I'd suggest that you post your story here, and I bet you'll get a bunch of responses (from me and others).

  2. Ok, I'm 35 years old. My problem brought up about 3 years ago. One night, I was out for a ride with some youngsters and pushed myself a bit too hard to catch up with them. That night, I didn't feel any problem while I was riding but when I got back to home I felt like I had no fluid left on my knee joints. They were very stiff all of a sudden. That night and following few days I was in great deal of pain. That's how the story began. Then I started visiting doctors. First one told me that I have PFPS and told me to do some quad exercises. I did them for few weeks and I was again on the bike as soon as I felt a little better. I was having no pain during the rides (which has been fooling me all the time) but the pain was arising in the night and following few days after the rides. I kept on riding for about two years like this. I did some long rides like 100, 150, 220 kms which included some nasty hills without being able to address the problem and fix it. And I should note that I was not riding with a proper cadence for long time. I learnt about the importance of it but it was too late. Finally I gave up on those rides, as I was having constant pain and inflammation that was lasting more than a week. I was only doing commuting rides but still I was having the same kind of pain. Now I have pain even after walking few kilometers. My knees got worse and worse as I was limiting the amount of activity. Nowadays I have inflammation around my knees while sitting in my office chair. I visited more than 10 different doctors up to this date and they are all telling me that I have chondromalacia/PFPS. They are all advising me the same knee / hip strengthening exercises, glucosamine support, PRP injections. Finally I decided to have a Hyraluronic Acid injection on my knees and it didn't help at all.

    I am sitting a lot as I am doing an office job. I think it is the main reason I got this injury. I am trying to walk as much as I can to get my glute muscles in shape but it is causing more knee pains. I will have manual therapy sessions for the next two weeks. Doctor told me that my digestion system doesn't work very well and I can't get the bad blood out of my system. She will work on that also.

    I am sorry, I couldn't gather it up well but I am open to hear your advices.

    1. Dandikus,

      I'm relatively new here (to this blog), but I'll give you what advice I can. Ultimately it's on you to pay attention to your knees.

      -Start small. Walk a little bit. Knees like motion, but not the heavy duty kind.
      -Keep track of things - Richard kept a journal of his knees and how they felt. It helps in multiple ways - correlating things that bother them as well as to tell if you are improving. Many people don't do this or feel the need to. I try to.
      -Research and read. A lot. I'll put a few recommendations at the bottom
      -Be patient and expect setbacks
      -Keep checking in with this blog - there's always something you can get from conversations that happen on here - a link, a training suggestion, etc.

      For me it's been 5-6 months since I hurt my knees. I was fortunate to find a lot of these resources fairly early, and I'm hoping that I can recover well because of it.

      This blog (as well as Richard's book, but it's not really medical advice, although there are certainly some things you can glean from it).
      Doug Kelsey's website ( and various blog postings (of which I don't have on me at the moment, maybe someone else on here can link some)
      Scott F Dye's page - has some good info in it.

      Good luck. I'm sure some more replies will be incoming soon (sometimes people take a little time to get back to you on here, but it'll happen, everyone's really cool about it in my short experience)

      Hope this helps


    2. Oh yeah...almost forgot some resources. - a site by a guy named Paul Ingraham. He wrote an ebook about PFPS as well as other injuries. He has many articles on his site, not just about knees either. It's eBook only so you won't find it at a book store.

      Doug Kelsey's book The Runner's Knee Bible is also another good one. It's also eBook only.

    3. One last thing...

      You mentioned you're an office worker. I am too (as are others on here). You can help yourself by making sure you aren't in your chair for too long. If possible try getting up every 30-45 minutes, or whatever you can handle, and just walking for 5. Even at a slow pace a couple hundred steps is pretty quick to come by.

      I also rest my legs on a big, fluffy beanbag style footrest that I keep under my desk. One day when I'm better I'm going to cut it into a million pieces, but until that day it helps keep my knees from being bent for such long stretches (even though I still put them on the ground once in a while to test the waters a little, to see if I'm improving).

      Those are some things that seem to help me. I keep moving, and try to keep from irritating them when I'm not.

      Just some suggestions, do with them what you like. :)


    4. Dandikus, it looks like you got some good suggestions from Brandon. The viscosupplementation that you received is kind of a crap shoot, from what I've read anecdotally. Some people say it helped, but just as many say it was worthless. And studies seem to show it being closer to worthless.

      I'm not so sure about that "bad blood in your system" diagnosis. I'd be a bit skeptical of that. Sounds like you may live somewhere in Asia, maybe India.

      Anyway, movement is the foundation for changing bad knees to good, I really believe. So you need to find movement that doesn't stress your joints too much. Water therapy (in a pool)? Gentle cycling on a stationary bike (stationary bike is better because it's easier to control force exerted; on a bike commuting, you'll be accelerating, going up hills etc. which may overtax your knees). And if you're looking for other exercises, Doug Kelsey on his website has a great book "The 90 Day Knee Arthritis Remedy" that isn't just for people with arthritis. Good luck!

  3. Hi guys!
    Hope you are all doing well! For those who may be interested here is a summary of my trip to US to meet my coach.

    We had 3 sessions so in total it was like 4 hours or so. She did a careful assessment (measuring my hip and ankle range of motion, my muscle strength, my movements patterns etc) and we confirmed that what is bothering me the most is my left quad inhibition due to previous knee pain and also the fat pad (there is a fat pad under the patellar tendon that can become a bit swollen and when you tighten your quad with the knee straight, it gets pinched).

    I did a bunch of different drills and she carefully observed my form and technique to make sure I was doing them correctly.

    My right knee could stand 5 reps of standing single leg squat (full body weight) so that's good news! My left knee load tolerance is now at 75% body weight more or less.
    Cartilage is pretty stable and recently only my patellar tendons have been bothering me so fingers crossed.

    So the result is that I am much more relaxed now as I have confirmed in person the status of my injury and I am more confident to move forward knowing that she has put some hands on my knees.
    I have to mention that it was absolutely a pleasure to meet her after almost a year working together by Skype. She is also a good fun so we had a great time working together in person.
    I'm not sure if anyone has any questions...I'll be happy to answer them.


    1. Athenea,

      Thanks for sharing!! My coach is amazing via Skype so I can only imagine how great it was to meet her in person!

      I too have fat pad impingement, it showed up in my MRI and as you know I can definitely feel it but I think it's improving as I get stronger.

      Have you been able to return to "normal" activities again? Such as biking or hiking?

      I've heard Austin is a really neat city with lots to do, so I hope you got to experience some of that. Thanks so much for sharing!


    2. Very cool! I've read some of your past posts and it sounds like you've made TONS of progress! That's awesome! I literally just ordered a Total Trainer moments ago before checking in on this blog. Seeing both yours and Alex's post helped reassure me that it was the right move. I'm gonna try it on my own for a while and if I'm not getting anywhere I'm going to see if I can hire one of those two coaches. I've been emailing back and forth a bit with one in particular.

      It really is quite amazing the progress you've made, from both what you've told me what I've read. So do you get many setbacks nowadays, or do you feel like you're starting to move past that? Also, when you say "left quad inhibition" what exactly do you mean? Are you saying the muscle is underdeveloped or just kind of asleep?

    3. Hey Alex! I haven't returned to sports yet. I still have symptoms (only in my tendons though), they are not very strong but still... I prefer to wait a bit more... to be honest I'm scared of going back dancing (which is how I got injured) so well...I need more time I guess.

      Yeah it's more like having a "lazy/sleepy" quad... sometimes when you have knee pain and your quad was not strong enough it can "shut down" . So it's a matter of making it to come on with different exercises and time.
      I haven't had setbacks in a while, as I said, even though my knees can tolerate more load I'm still not 100%. I don't have any pain inside the knee or around the patella but my tendons still get a bit sure from time to time... the type of soreness you would have for example in your feet if you have walked a lot one day and you are not used to. Nothing crazy but it's definitely something I want to get rid of!

    4. Your comment about being scared of dancing is interesting. I think many injured people probably deal with that. I think about doing some of the things I used to do and I wonder to myself if a)I'll ever be able to do them again, and b)if I do them what's going to happen? Like you said, I think it's a time thing. As you get better, stronger and more confident in your knees, you'll get a braver. You'll dance again. :)

    5. Athenea,

      Prior to working with your coach did you have a constant ache in your knees? If so, has that been eliminated since working with them? I'm still struggling with that and I figure once I can get that deep constant ache dealt with I'll really feel like a new person again!

    6. Hi Alex,
      I only had pain with movement like walking or squatting but not at rest. Standing also was painful because of the tendons inflammation.

    7. And this is a critical point and something which I think is missed in almost everything written on curing knee pain - mainstream or not.
      My pain is more like Richards - constant, even when at rest - which suggests a different mechanism to Athenea's pain and most likely a different approach to treating it. I believe the constant pain variety of knee pain has more of a CNS /loss of tissue homeostasis component. Even though it probably began as a cartilage damage issue, it morphed into something bigger.

    8. Athenea, Alex,

      Not sure if this is an appropriate question here or not, but out of curiosity may I ask which coach each of you has dealt with? I've actually emailed both, but I have one in particular I've been communicating with recently. I'm just curious.

      If you aren't comfortable saying, please disregard and accept my apologies. :)


    9. Brandon,

      I would imagine both coaches are equally awesome as their technique is not well known unfortunately and it works. As for who to pick? I would go with whoever you feel you connect with the most and understands your situation, which should be easier since you've contacted both. Also, who ever has availability to take on a new client.


    10. So I decided to take the plunge and hire one of DK's coaches. We're working on scheduling a consult, and I need to get her all of my information. I'm hoping I can get similar results as Athenea and Alex, but everyone is different and who knows how this will work for me. I'm super nervous about it. It's difficult when you're not sure if you're doing the right thing or not, especially when it's about your health, and considering the monetary investment that it will likely take.

    11. I was also nervous at the beginning... I didn't even have anyone who could tell me hey this is working for me. Just try for a few months and see how it goes :)

    12. Hey Athenea!

      Thanks for the feedback. I'm just trying to come into this with high hopes but lower expectations. It's not fair to my coach or me to expect miracles, and will only set me up for failure if I come in expecting to be better in 3 months. I guess I'll find out more as far as timeframes, expectations, etc when I finally have my first Skype session with her.

      I'm going to do everything she tells me to do to the best of my ability and have faith. It's all that I CAN do. Even hearing from just a couple of others who have had positive experiences with them is FAR better than what I've got now, which is basically a lot of guesswork and uncertainty. I think just having a well stated plan by someone who I know is fairly well versed in dealing with this sort of thing in itself is reassuring.

      How often do you Skype with your coach? Is it the same frequency at which you originally met up with them? Would you do it the same way, or would you have met with them more/less frequently?


  4. Alex, TriAgain is right again. You should try alprazolam-benzodiazepine and the pain will be reduced by 50% for 5-6 hours. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I have two different knees. Right one with the constant pain, and left one that hurts under load, but without constant nerve pain.