Anti-gravity treadmill offers different way to exercise - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Anti-gravity treadmill offers different way to exercise

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Channel 3's Mark Dixon tried out the anti-gravity treadmill (WFSB) Channel 3's Mark Dixon tried out the anti-gravity treadmill (WFSB)

A type of technology astronauts, and some professional athletes have been using for some time will soon be offered to residents in Connecticut.

Eyewitness News went to Hartford Healthcare’s Bone and Joint Institute at Hartford Hospital to find out more about the anti-gravity treadmill.

“The big thing is, is that we can unweight you. Anything from 20 percent of your body weight, up to 100 percent of your body weight; and we can make some variations in between,” said Stefanie Bourassa, the director of the Sports medicine Clinical Program.

The more one is "unweighted" on the treadmill, the less of an impact the motion will have on their joints, which is huge for those undergoing physical therapy and rehabilitation.

“Research shows that getting things moving faster is actually more beneficial than waiting,” Bourassa said. “Whether it's somebody who is obese or overweight and they need to lose weight before they have surgery...or our ACL patients that we want to get walking earlier...or even our osteoporosis who might be afraid of walking, we get them on the treadmill and we get them back to doing their patterns.”

The treadmill doesn’t have to necessarily be used for an injury.

Athletes like to take advantage of the machine too, in order to enhance their training experience.

“It has camera systems in it so we can look at what your foot patterns are doing, what your hips are doing, and we can maybe make some adjustments,” Bourassa said.

Channel 3 Meteorologist Mark Dixon gave the treadmill a try.

He stepped into what Bourassa calls the “air bladder.” Once sealed, the machine is turned on and the bladder fills with air.

The machine automatically calibrates for the user calculating their weight, BMI and pressure systems.

Once Dixon started running, Bourassa slowly began to decrease the weight.

Dixon’s body was experiencing “muscle confusion” so he was still getting a workout, even though he was running on only 45 pounds at one point.

“Your muscles are used to your body weight doing what your body tells it to do; so if you unweight it--now your muscles have to figure things out; and it re-signals to the brain what's going on so you can create this new learning pattern,” Bourassa said.

“When we were at 25 to 50 percent, it felt like I was kind of bouncing on every step because of the force wasn't as great; but then as I was coming back to 100 percent of my weight, I felt every step and every pound,” Dixon said.

The amount of force and impact changes for the user, but one thing that won't change while you're on the treadmill is your cadence and turnover rate.

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