Specialized Rehab and Training for Runners

As a former collegiate athlete, I understand how important it is for runners and other athletes to recover quickly so that they can continue participating in the sport or activity that makes them happy. My goal, as the owner of High Altitude Spine & Sport in Boulder, Colorado, is to return my patients to a pain-free and active lifestyle. I am dedicated to continuously challenging and educating myself in order to provide the most current and effective healthcare possible. That is why I incorporate the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill into my patient rehabilitation care and sports performance workouts.

Working with runners is a specialty at my clinic, because I am a runner and a coach. I ran collegiately at University of California, San Diego, and coached high school cross country and track from 2010 to 2014. I served as USA Track & Field Sports Medicine Staff at the past two U.S. track and field championships, including the Olympic trials.

Currently, I coach the Roots Running Project, a professional Olympic development training group. The AlterG is used by this group of professional athletes, as well as local student and adult athletes, as a supplement to training and a tool to enhance performance. Boulder is an endurance training hub, so I knew bringing an AlterG to my practice made sense, and High Altitude was the first facility in the region to have an Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

Beyond the competitive advantage of having the AlterG, it has improved the rehabilitation and performance outcomes of my clients. It allows the user to defy gravity to maintain fitness while rehabbing, and it allows for safer progressions.

Other advantages of the AlterG in running injury rehabilitation include:

  • Minimizes time lost from training
  • Maintains fitness while rehabbing
  • Improves bone density measures without complete loading
  • Minimizes joint stress and pain
  • Allows for monitoring to adjust workouts due to fatigue and mechanical compensation

In my experience, patients who respond well using the AlterG may have shin splints, ligament sprains, plantar fasciitis, bone stress injuries and labral disruptions/FAI. Be cautious about using the AlterG with paitients with hamstring strains, achilles injuries and patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).

Controlled Aggression

The Anti-Gravity Treadmill is great for running performance enhancement. I like to say it allows for “controlled aggression,” through overspeed training (tempos, intervals) in a controlled environment. You can experiment with volume and/or speed in racing conditions like humidity, and the workout can be mentally challenging.

A lot of the athletes at my practice do long runs on the weekend and then use AlterG for a recovery run on a Monday. Because the AlterG reduces weight load, it allows tissue to recover after harder workouts. For those with an injury, the AlterG allows the neurological stimulus without the same metabolic cost and it can be used to safely increase weekly volume. This also is important for beginner runners or frequently injured runners.

Consider new high school athletes who only have about 12 weeks to gear up for championships. When advancing higher intensity outdoor workouts in a short period, injuries like shin splints increase. The easier recovery after an AlterG run allows the athlete to more gradually increase force impact outside.

Below is a training schedule for a high school runner, doing 40 miles per week, progressing to higher volume. <Use 2 charts from presentation here.> We created a plan that included outdoor running, body-weight reduction AlterG runs and hiking and swimming. Once we reached week 10 on the plan, it stayed the same for the next 8 weeks. An additional outside running day was then added on Monday, with an option for an AlterG session at 85 to 90% body weight. The schedule remained the same for 12 weeks, and the patient is now running six days a week outside and has moved on to college.

The best testament for using AlterG in athletic injury rehabilitation and performance enhancement is that 20+ NCAA teams, 20+ professional sports teams and 60+ top performance enhancement centers and medical and government facilities are using the Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

If you would like to start a specialized running program with AlterG, consider these tips:

  • Incorporate the five bio-motor systems in a weekly or bi-weekly plan: endurance, power, flexibility, coordination and general strength
  • Don’t change more than one stimulus at a time: volume, intensity, body weight
  • Closely monitor your runners, because they tend to push if they feel well
  • Make sure you are well versed in running training stimuli: tempos, fartleks, paces, etc.

High Altitude Spine & Sport is dedicated to helping runners and our other patients return to optimal health as efficiently as possible, while stopping a repetitive injury cycle. AlterG is helping us achieve that goal.