The Paratriathlete Diaries: Neoprene Pants & Plastic Bags

This post is one of a series I call “The Paratriathlete Diaries” – in the series I hope to take a regular look at the random things that happen in my life as an athlete with challenges.  Any ideas, questions, or suggestions throw them my way. I would like to use this feature as a way to answer questions anyone might have about living with chronic conditions such as Charcot Marie Tooth disease and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but with a light touch and a bit of humour. I’m all ears!

When you have physical problems to manage around when doing sport, you need to get creative.

I never thought when I started to do triathlon that this creativity would extend to wearing neoprene pants and zipping myself into a plastic bag.

Let’s face it – that description reads more like a fetish game.  Neoprene pants and plastic bags?!  But, no.  It’s just what’s needed to use the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill.

I have written before about how the Alter-G has revolutionised my training.  In fact, I would go so far to say that without using it, I would no longer be running nor doing triathlon.  It is *that* important to my training.

What is it?  It is all way more scientific I am sure than I am capable of describing, but here goes… The Alter-G is after all based on NASA patents. In short, the user steps on the treadmill and is weighed, and then the Alter-G fills with air using this air pressure to reduce the user’s body weight, enabling training at a reduced weight and as a result this reduces loading on the joints.  To enable the space to fill with a constant measurable air pressure, the user must put on a pair of neoprene pants and zip into the treadmill, to create an air tight seal. 

The Alter-G is my neoprene and plastic fix.

The ultimate in running fetish wear!

I have been training with the Alter-G for the last 18 months at two locations in London: Balance Physiotherapy in Clapham, and The Running School in The City. The photo above is the rehab model at The Running School, at Balance they use the sports model. I have found with my knee issues that the best way to integrate the Alter-G into my training is by using it for my “long” runs, which I do at 70-80% body weight. This reduces the loading on my knee and helps me to manage inflammation while maitaining run fitness and enabling me to slowly and steadily work on improving my overall running ability.

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