Zipping into a black bubble, Matt Sharpe looks more like he’s about to get into a time machine than on a treadmill.
Thanks to the Canadian Sports Institute’s new Alter-G treadmill, an approximately $75,000 machine, the injured Saanich triathlete is already a month into rehabilitation on an injured ankle that wouldn’t have started for another two weeks.
As he runs, his legs are visible through a window in the bubble. You can see the effort it takes to force a natural running motion.
“It really is like running on the moon, you have to be conscious of a proper stride,” said Sharpe, as the machine filled a bubble of air around him and lifted him off the ground. “I started running at 60 per cent of my body weight, about three times a week, and gradually added weight.”
The Alter-G allows Sharpe, in this case, the ability to retain the muscle memory in his ankle for running despite having tendinitis. But it can work for many leg injuries, said CSI physiotherapist Holly Murray.
“It’s a pretty popular machine since we got it a couple months ago. It allows you to keep the neuro-muscular patterns from previous training.”
In essence, the machine is salvaging a winter’s worth of training for Sharpe, who enjoyed success in some smaller Southern hemisphere triathlons this spring only to suffer the setback of an injury as race season arrived.
Sharpe had a goal to represent Canada at this summer’s Pan Am Games but is now targeting a pair of World Cup races in October.
Ellen Pennock, a Victoria-based training partner of Sharpe’s, will represent Canada at the Pan Am Games.