Hip Surgery to Ironman in 48 Days!

Here's what professional triathlete Morgan Chaffin had to say about how she was able to do an Ironman competition (that's a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles biking and THEN a full marathon--26.2 miles) just 48 days after having hip surgery:

Having hip pain isn’t fun at all! I had already been down the path of having labral repair surgery in 2010 and was experiencing similar symptoms. I was in denial and trying to fight it, but knew it was there. Any running motion brought me to my knees and there was no pushing through. I had previously heard about the AlterG when I was living in Illinois, but never had the chance to try one. When I learned I could find out where AlterG’s are located I quickly looked up Omaha locations. I really wanted to run and more so I wanted to complete a full Ironman in 2013. I had been training hard leading up the flare up in my hip. It turns out the sutures from my previous surgery had came loose.

Before I knew this I contacted Specialized Physical Therapy and they introduced me to the Alterg. The first time I ever ran on it I went 20 miles. Overkill?! Probably, but I still wanted to do the Ironman! In addition to using the AlterG I worked with Eric at SPT to build hip strength, stability, and work on my posture. It helped tremendously. I’ve been told there is no way any of my muscles could be “weak”. I’m laughing now! I needed to work on those things and get the sutures removed before I was going to recover and run outside again.

I had surgery Oct 1, rested 1 week and was on the Alterg 1 week later at 50% of my body weight for 20 minutes. We gradually built that up. I was running roughly 3 times a week on the Alterg. I varied the pace, intensity, incline and percent body weight to get the greatest training benefit. I did three 20 mile runs ranging from 70-85% body weight at 3-5% grade (we found this to really use the glutes!). It was quite the experience to use this machine to get to Ironman Arizona on November 17. I had only run outside three times since July and all other run training was on the AlterG. The machine allowed me to take off enough body weight to decrease the pressure on my hip. I was able to keep some fitness which would have otherwise been lost. It was truly a guessing game of what percentage of body weight I could run at pain free. Many times I was right at that fine line. Thankfully SPT kept a good eye on me and I got to the IM healthy and I finished! I plan to still use the Alterg as part of my training. It will allow me to reduce the risk of injury by running on the AlterG if feeling fatigued or to add in extra miles. It’s definitely one of the greatest training tools available!

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