Road to Recovery

On April 19th I had major surgery on my left foot. At the time I thought my recovery would take 8-12 weeks. It’s been 21 weeks and I’m waiting to get cleared to stop using crutches. At the beginning of August I was given permission to start using the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill and the exercise bike to get more mobile. I was eager to start moving again and the progress I’ve made since then is substantial. My pain has decreased and my energy levels have increased.

Some of you may be wondering what an anti-gravity treadmill is. It’s been a very useful recovery tool for me these last two months. The technology was originally created for NASA, but was later put to use to create the anti-gravity treadmill which helps people with arthritis, those recovering from major surgery, obesity or other health conditions which limit their mobility. Elite athletes also use this technology to supplement their training. This treadmill allows them to stay active by limiting their pain and the impact on their joints.

On August 2nd I started out using the treadmill at 40% weight-bearing. I had some pain as it was the first time I had walked since April. To use the treadmill you wear special shorts that zip into the machine that keep the pressurized air inside. It’s an odd feeling at first, but you get used to it.

Each week I slowly increased the body weight percentage up higher as long as I didn’t have an increase in pain. You can also increase the speed and incline of the treadmill if you desire. I knew that by September 19th my doctor would have me off of crutches, so my goal was to be at 100% body weight before then if I could tolerate it and did not have any pain. As the weeks went by and I increased the percentage my pain decreased in my foot and I found it became more natural to walk on the treadmill. My body was getting used to returning to normal activities.

In addition to using the anti-gravity treadmill I was doing at least 30 minutes a day of cycling on the exercise bike 3 days a week. This also helped condition my legs and get them stronger after having been on bed rest for so many weeks after surgery.

My goal once I get final clearance from my doctor to be off of crutches will be to begin walking outdoors again with my dog for short walks, slowly rebuilding my mileage back up to a 5k distance if possible without pain. I will also begin cycling with my bike outdoors several days a week. I know that without the use of the Alterg treadmill I wouldn’t have made as much progress as I have these last few weeks. I was in pain 2 months ago when I walked on the treadmill but now I have no pain when walking. My body has adjusted to being mobile and the natural progression to full weight bearing that the treadmill gives allowed my bones to continue to heal throughout the process. I highly recommend using the Alterg anti gravity treadmill post surgery for recovery and rehab!!  It’s cost efficient, easy to use, promotes healing, and is a natural way to return to weight-bearing after prolonged use of crutches.

Below (click to enlarge) is the data for how I progressed on the Alterg treadmill over the weeks to get from 40% to 100% weight-bearing. I think this was a successful journey and I am grateful for the ability to use the anti-gravity treadmill as part of my recovery.

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