When I was 21, I got serious about exercise. The aerobics craze was in full swing, and after all, I was headed for PT school; it was time to start walking the talk. To give you an idea of how old I am, I bought a pair of cheap sneakers from the “Five and Dime” and I hit the ground running. The shoes were lousy, and though they gave me blisters, nothing else really hurt. My muscles were that good kind of sore and the rest of my body was fine. Young joints are strong and resilient. Ahh, the good old days.
Fast-forward almost 40 years and I feel like the Princess and the Pea. No more cheap sneakers; the shoes have to be just right, my running form has to be just right, and though I can still run, all the conditions have to be just right to allow me to run without pain.
A few weeks ago I ran on an anti-gravity treadmill. They call it the Alter G, but between you and me, I just ran in a Time Machine. It felt like I turned the clock back 40 years. My body responded with ease. How? By taking just enough stress and weight off my joints so everything worked like it used to. They say motion is lotion, but only if it’s the right motion. And that’s where the Alter G helps.
We used to think cartilage was inert, but how can that be? Everything in the body changes, depending on the stress you put on it. Cartilage has no direct blood supply, and no nerve or lymphatic supply, so it relies on compression and decompression for nourishment.
Cartilage, (the precursor to bone) acts very much like bone. If you break a bone, you don’t put weight on it at first, but eventually, loading the bone makes it stronger and ultimately leads to faster healing. Timing the amount of loading is critical for optimal healing of joints, bones and muscles.
Following an injury or over-use, cartilage cannot withstand as much compressive force, but with the right amount, it can get better. Having exactly the right amount of compression and decompression creates the healing. The Alter G can calibrate the load so exactly that you go from pain to no pain in just the right increment. Too much compression and you hurt, too little and you don’t get better. It has to be just right. So alter gravity with the Alter G and see how good it feels.
We are all very excited that an Alter G machine will be in our clinic soon. There are so many ways it will help our patients. More information is coming, but in the meantime, ask your therapist if the Alter G could be a good tool for your recovery.