“I run like an old man runs, not like I want to run.”
That’s how Brett "Spike" Eskin described his attempts to take to the road like he used to, before suffering a torn labrum (a ring of cartilage) in his hip and two herniated discs when a drunk driver slammed into the rear of the car he was driving. Eskin also has arthritis. Since then, his running has been more like shuffling. He has compensated for his injuries by essentially running “wrong.”
Eskin, program director for SportsRadio 94WIP, recently had the opportunity to start to learn how to run “right” when he took part in a session on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill at MossRehab in Elkins Park, under the watchful eyes of MossRehab Running Clinic physical therapists John Feeley, MSPT, and Steve Sepel, MSPT. Both are also busy getting runners prepared for the Broad Street Run in May.
So picture a treadmill in which the runner encloses his waist in what looks like a shiny black inner tube. The tube is connected to a clear plastic skirt that fills with air, practically lifting the runner off the treadmill surface. That’s the Anti-Gravity Treadmill.
The treadmill reduces the impact of gravity. It is used for multiple purposes, including allowing an athlete to run with less pain while rehabilitating injured joints.
The clear skirt also allows clinicians to examine the runner’s form—to find out, essentially, what he might be doing wrong that inhibits his ability to run properly, and help correct it.
For Eskin, tall and angular, his arms decorated with colorful tattoos, running on the Anti-Gravity Treadmill was like “running on the moon.”
Eskin learned that his gait was off. More specifically, the therapists observed that Eskin was overcompensating for his injuries by leaning to his right side. “When you’re a runner,” he said, “you adjust for your injuries by doing something else.” Trotting along on the treadmill surface in his bright yellow and black Brooks running shoes, he laughed, “Even on the moon, I can’t run straight.”
After his experience on the treadmill, Eskin came away enthused. What he most appreciated about the experience was “the ability to see what you’re doing and correct it,” he said. “It’s really cool.”