AlterG treadmill for trail runners

As trail runners we all know that running on dirt creates less impact than running on pavement. What if you could run with less impact force than a soft, buffed out, pine needle covered single-track trail? With an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill you can! The AlterG uses an inflatable enclosure built into the treadmill to un-weight runners using air pressure. Users can select between 20% and 100% of their body weight by 1% increments to dial-in just the right amount of impact. “Sounds awesome”, you say, “but why would I want to be stuck indoors on a treadmill”? Our love for the outdoors & desire to explore makes us trail runners poor candidates for treadmill running but there are some good reasons why selective AlterG use can be beneficial.

Recovering from injury. We’ve all done it and know how challenging it can be to get back to our regular running schedule after an injury. The traditional road to recovery often includes time off & physical therapy followed by walking and a progression of shorter runs over the course of many days, weeks or even months depending on the injury. Some trail runners might also try special insoles, softer “maximal” shoes, running uphill only or even a special trail with just the right surface that feels super-soft. All these things can be helpful but none can reduce the impact of running like loosing a few pounds (or more) instantly. Running at a reduced body weight allows runners to maintain a normal gait with no pain, reduces stress on joints and injured areas of the body and helps break compensatory patterns caused by an injury. With an AlterG treadmill you can start running sooner and for longer durations; an important benefit for competitive trail runners who want to regain sport speicifc fitness faster.

Improved performance for healthy runners. Mileage addicts; we all know one or perhaps you are one. Generally speaking, the more miles you can run in training, the faster you can run in races. Thusly, those trail runners focused on racing are always trying to run as many miles as possible and do so without succumbing to overuse injuries. Elite road runner Dathan Ritzenhein put an AlterG in his garage so he could maintain his 90 to 100 miles per week and fend off injuries. Back in 2012 Dathan was running 90 miles a week on the road and 15 on the AlterG.  Another strategy is to end your longer trails runs on a Alter-G. For example, run 10 miles on the trails and finish with 4 more miles on the Alter-G at 80% bodyweight. In this way you gain the cardiovascular benefits of a 14 mile run without the equivalent impact.

Technique at speed. According to Greg Ohanessian (PT, DPT, MOMT) from Pacific Therx, runners can use an AlterG to work on technique and higher speeds with reduced impact and fatigue. Combined with bio-mechanical analysis, these reduced bodyweight workouts can help runners become more efficient & faster on the trails. For runners recovering from an injury Greg recommends reduced body weight single leg jumps on the AlterG with the treadmill moving at low speed as well as foot landing drills with the treadmill stopped.

Summer is fast approaching and the trail running season is getting into full swing, but if you’re looking for a competitive edge or managed to get injured (already??), consider adding some AlterG treadmill running to your training or recovery plan. To find an AlterG near you go to Many clinics & sport training centers make their treadmills available with by the minute pricing plans. Pacific Therx sells AlterG time for $1 per minute or cheaper if you pre-pay for minutes in bulk. If you just won the lottery go ahead and buy your own for a bargain price of $45,000.

Special thanks for Greg Ohanessian and Pacific Therx in Portola Valley, California for letting us use their AlterG treadmill while researching this story.  To learn more about all the services offered by Pacific Therx visit

AlterG treadmill for trail runners