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Engaging in antigravity technology may seem counterintuitive when seeking physical therapy to get stronger on your feet, but it’s both a real and effective option through the use of an AlterG treadmill, said Ben Hannula, a physical therapist with 3Dimensional Physical Therapy & Sports Conditioning in Tacoma. 

AlterG uses differential air pressure technology (DAP), which was originally developed by NASA to help engineers and astronauts study the biomechanics of exercise in space. Adapted to physical therapy, imagine a treadmill encased in a high-tech pocket to create a limited antigravity environment from the hips down. 

On the AlterG, Hannula said his physical therapy team can reduce a person’s body weight by 20 to 100 percent, all in 1 percent increments.  

“In layman terms, AlterG therapy displaces the weight of the body by creating an antigravity environment around the lower extremities,” Hannula said. “Patients get zipped into a sealed pocket where we can manage the weight-bearing load very precisely. This reduces stress to joints, impact force, and protects a surgical site.”  

According to Hannula, there are several advantages to technically reducing body weight, depending on the circumstances.  

For example, high-level athletes training for a marathon can recover from a training breakdown or extend their training time each day thanks to the reduced joint compression and ground reaction force offered on the AlterG. 

Other physical applications include recovering from surgery or an injury, or increasing activity.  

Rehabbing with an AlterG after surgery or an injury decreases pain, encourages an active range of motion, protects healing tissue, and doesn’t cause stress to a surgical site. It allows the therapist to closely monitor gait mechanics so the client isn’t compensating for too long while also maintaining aerobic conditioning.  

And according to Hannula, it also has positive implications for people who may not have competitive goals or significant health issues, but who want to gradually increase their activity levels. 

“Think of someone who has gotten out of condition for whatever reason,” he said. “They may have a hard time walking for 10 minutes. On the AlterG, we can unload 40 weight-bearing pounds, allowing the client to walk for 45 minutes. This is often more motion than they’ve been able to sustain for a long time, and it offers the same cardio benefits without stress on the hips, knees or feet.”  

3Dimensional Physical Therapy & Sports Conditioning has invested in the AlterG technology to give its clients a more precise, comfortable and efficient therapy option. To learn more about the AlterG treadmill and how it can help one move, heal and/or train better, call  253-274-1884.