I have seen some bizarre iterations of treadmills, but the one I have always wanted to try is the Alter-G. It adjusts how much gravity affects you through air jets, and is used quite a bit by elite athletes and physical therapists assisting people with injuries. Effectively, by floating the runner with air, you reduce the pounding on their joints. You can also “run” much faster on it. Unfortunately, it’s a wee bit pricey, like $25,000 and up pricey.
Luckily, someone has invented a more low tech but equally cool solution: the LightSpeed. Instead of crazy air jets, you use bungee cords. So you can run, jump off a bridge, or secure a mattress to your car! Very handy. All joking aside, the bungee system means you “weigh” less, making running easier on your body and faster for your legs.
The device and design actually sound really cool. Even better, while mere mortals need to be lucky/unlucky enough to have a well connected physical therapist and an injury requiring rehab on an Alter-G, the lower price tag on the LightSpeed means you might actually see one in person!
According to Runner’s World:
Angel Hohenstein, a 34-year-old triathlete and a former patient of Macaulay’s, hops on LightSpeed for 60 to 90 minutes at the Duluth YMCA. Like Winterfeld, she initially used the treadmill as a rehab tool, but it’s become a means of building volume and working on speed for an upcoming Ironman. “I’m injury prone, so it was a way to get in miles with less risk,” she says.
At Hohenstein’s recommendation, the Y purchased the system just under a year ago when it was still in trials. The center now boasts two, and fitness director Tara Gallagher has seen rising interest thanks to new posters and demo clinics.
Gallagher believes LightSpeed adds value to the facility, and not just for veteran runners. “It really helps new runners get past the growing pains,” she says. The reduced weight makes running more comfortable so members stick with it. And it’s fun, she says, like floating on air or being on a trampoline.
For some chronically injured runners, the device pockets just enough body weight that they can run. An older member got on the machine and after a few easy strides was beaming; he hadn’t run without pain in 30 years. (Hygiene note: Runners purchase their own pair of shorts.)
As a gym manager, Gallagher appreciates the fact that LightSpeed isn’t exclusive to one treadmill. She can move it to different models as needed, and members who don’t want to use it can still run on that treadmill; they simply don’t clip in.
Macaulay hopes that LightSpeed will become standard equipment at gyms, universities, hospitals and other fitness and rehab facilities. Two physical therapy clinics, including Star Physical Therapy in Franklin, Tennessee, are testing LightSpeed to positive reviews.
Definitely a technology to watch! Check it out in action below.