"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running Injured vs. "Anti-Gravity" Treadmill

The latest terrible idea is catching on - "anti-gravity" treadmills (and the quotation marks are necessary, in my opinion). If you don't believe me, check here, or here, or here. The idea is that one can go through the motions of running without the impact shock, allowing one to get in a cardio workout that's similar to normal running, while injured. It's like pool running, only the resistance can be varied - and I've never run in a pool, either.

This in-between "making do" is just making people feel that they're accomplishing something other than wasting time. If it hurts too much to run, that's your body telling you something that you should heed. If you can't run for a while, you'll appreciate it all the more when you can.

This almost-running can't be a good thing. When astronauts come back from space, their bones have partially demineralized from the lack of impact of gravity and they're weaker for it. "Anti-gravity" treadmills can only lead to slower callousing and knitting together of bone than if one runs normally until pain tells one to stop. These treadmills may help one to decrease the loss of aerobic fitness, but the bones aren't going to become as strong and you're going to get injured again, so you're going to spend a lot of time going back to these fantastically overpriced machines, rather than running.

Run. Or don't. But don't "kind of" run.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

NASA disagrees with you, Space Cowboy:

Whatever the cause of an injury, rehabilitation can be painful, and patients often alter their gait, stride length, or body position to over-compensate for the pain. The G-Trainer reduces the effect of gravity and weight, which makes it more comfortable for a patient to focus on a normal, correct gait instead of worrying about more injury and pain. This allows patients to develop good habits and condition their muscles while their bodies are still healing. The G-Trainer is comfortable like water training, but offers more realistic support of the lower limbs in their free-swing phase, allowing the legs to swing more normally than they would in water. Precision is another advantage the G-Trainer offers over water rehabilitation.

The ability to change the amount of patient support precisely and incrementally is a major advantage the G-Trainer offers over other rehabilitation devices and methods, such as harness systems and water training. Like an ordinary treadmill, the G-Trainer stores information and allows for incremental adjustments to the workout, such as increasing incline or speed. It also allows for incremental adjustment to the air pressure, which controls the amount of weight lifted from the patient. Depending on what users specify, the air pressure system can reduce body weight in 1-percent increments—useful to fine-tune treatment with improvement—to as much as an 80-percent reduction, for instance, for a patient who weighs 160 pounds but can only support 32 pounds of weight.

Chad W said...

Getting derailed for an injury is a motivation draining event, and if through technology, you're able to continue to exercise in your preferred method (i.e. running v.s. swimming), then more power to you. Personally, if I had an injury such as a stress fracture, I would rather swim or bike.

olga said...

I rather use other machines if I need to, but where I can use all my weight. But then again, I was only offered to check out Alter-G once, when I had a hip stress fracture, and I couldn't make the time slots. So, I adapt:)

SteveQ said...

G: NASA has a vested interest in the technology. Their point about people altering their gait is moot; I say don't alter your gait and deal with the pain. If you take the easy way out as an athlete in training, then you'll quit when things get hard in a race (and that's the difference between using the device for rehabilitation and using it as a stopgap in training).

Chad: Learning to deal emotionally with setbacks is a major part of training.