Strange Ways Olympians Train
7 Wild Ways Athletes Train for the Olympics
Bungee Cords and Parachutes
The Gist Rather than feeling the impact of every step on the treadmill, this machine allows an athlete to take a load off—literally. Using NASA technology, he or she steps into a pressured-controlled chamber from the waist down. In a process called unweighting, the machine is set at a percentage of the athlete’s bodyweight—starting as low as 20 percent (ideal for someone rehabbing an injury)—before walking or jogging as normal.
The Believers To Gavin Noble, a Specialized triathlete competing for Ireland at the 2012 Summer Olympics who used the device in February to rehab a stress fracture in his shin, it’s like running on the moon. (Related: 6 Signs Your Injury Needs a Second Opinion) “Being weightless was a little weird at first, but then it's fun,” says Noble. More than that, it sped up his recovery. “I was on it every other day for up to 60 minutes at a time for two weeks.” Normally, that injury would sideline you, but by relieving the pounding on joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles, he could continue to train as he healed. Team USA’s marathoner Kara Goucher and basketball star Candace Parker also like to defy gravity. “I started using it two years ago after experiencing a great deal of swelling in my knees,” says Parker. “It allows me to do high-level cardio without taking a toll on my body.”
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