Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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ElliptiGO 8c Review: A Top Tier Cross-Training Tool
By Nathan Brown

The ElliptiGO is a unique way to travel on wheels that combines the elements of cycling with the pedal motion of an elliptical trainer. The ElliptiGO has been around for over 10 years with continued refinements made to the materials, utility features, and stationary trainer options. 

I have been testing the ElliptiGO for the last 5 months, and it could not have come at a better time. If you've followed our podcast, you've heard me talk about a few of my longer-standing limitations in mobility as well as my recent injury to my foot. The ElliptiGO provided an opportunity to continue training in the midst of some of the restrictions that I had due to the acute injury and continues to be a part of my rotation for training. I'm going to break down some of the potential benefits of ElliptiGO use and how it impacted my ability to maintain and gain fitness throughout the course of my injuries.



The motion created by the ElliptiGO mirrors that of a stationary elliptical machine but is more on the shallow elliptical motion, which I found more closely mirrored my personal running mechanics. When compared to biking, there is significantly less demand for the thigh to move toward the chest, which is considered hip flexion. This is due to the fact that the body is completely upright combined with the elliptical motion instead of circular as you have on a bike. For me, this is very helpful, as I have long-standing CAM and Pincer lesions in my hip, which basically means there is bony overgrowth that prevents me from having a lot of motion into hip flexion. It's important to say that not everyone who has a CAM or Pincer lesion is going to have issues with cycling, in fact most don't. However, I personally get hip pain with radiating pain down my leg whenever I try to bike, and therefore the less demand on hip flexion allowed me to get long rides on the ElliptiGO without aggravating any of those symptoms. 

In addition to motion at the hip, the EllitiGO decreases the demand of motion at the foot when compared to running. The ankle goes into less dorsiflexion (pulling the foot up) and the great toe goes into less extension (moving toward the ceiling). As I was walking through the ligament tear in my foot, decreasing the demand on motion in my foot was important to allow for the healing that needed to occur. Overall, the ElliptiGO mirrors the running motion, but decreases a bit of the amount of motion that the body needs to go through. This isn't always beneficial, but for varying the training stimulus or helping recover from an injury, it can be very helpful.


When we run, studies show that somewhere between 4-7x our body weight is transferred through our body with each step. This makes running an amazing stimulus to improve cardiovascular health and fitness. Additionally, your body needs to be able to handle that demand within a running session and over time. On something like an ElliptiGO or elliptical trainer, there are significantly decreased impact forces. Decreased impact forces decrease the amount of force in time through each structure and also decrease the demand on the muscles used to control the impact forces. If you want to keep growing as a runner, you're going to need to run. That's inevitable. Something like the ElliptiGO cannot replace all your training for most goals that exist in the running space. However, the ElliptiGO, with the decreased impact forces, can be a great opportunity to decrease demand on the body during a recovery week, after a race, or just when your body is feeling beat up. Additionally, it can be useful in the face of certain injuries, where the impact forces of running are just too high, which was the case for me when my foot was in the early stages of healing. Through the winter months, I had the ElliptiGO connected to the Fluid 365 stationary trainer, which basically gave us an elliptical in our basement with varied resistance thanks to the 8 gears that were present. As I've been returning to running after injury, the ElliptiGO has also been a great tool for when I can tell my foot is just a bit flared up and needs a day off.


Biking is a wonderful way to stay active and train. However, I personally cannot stand cycling (sorry to all of you who love it). Much of the reason why is because of what I shared above about how it leads to discomfort for me, but the other major reason is the relative effort that I need to put in to get the same cardiovascular efforts. I find that when I run, my heart rate and perceived intensity automatically increase quickly, likely due to the need to control those impact forces we talked about. However, I find that when cycling I need to give a lot of conscious effort into achieving a higher intensity, and was curious if the same was going to be true with the ElliptiGO. To my pleasant surprise, it was almost just as easy to hit varying intensities with low cognitive focus on the ElliptiGO as it is with running. Due to that, I've been able to do easy rides, recovery rides, tempo rides, and even some more intense intervals on the ElliptiGO without skipping a beat. To achieve the harder workouts, I am thankful to have the 8c so that there are more options for resistance, and wonder if I'd have the same versatility with the 3c. I've enjoyed having a tool that stresses my cardiovascular system in ways that allow me to regain some of the fitness I lost during injury while my musculoskeletal system is still adapting to the demands of running overground.


The ElliptiGO couldn't have come at a better time for me personally. I have been able to get a lot of use out of it while coming back from injury and use it to ride around with my family when they're biking as well. I have used the ElliptiGO on the roads, but also on our crushed gravel trail around town. In my 5 months of use, I've had no problems with the bike itself or the stationary trainer, and I look forward to grinding out more miles and using it to complement my return to running and training. 


Shop the ElliptiGO here

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*Using the following links to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist. (Also recommend the Naked belt)
Saysky Running Gear: We were really taken aback by this Scandinavian company's ultra-thin, durable performance clothing
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
goodr Sunglases: Run in style with goodr's super fun sunglasses.
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Water Bottle: Perfect for long runs when you need hydration in the summer
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!
Fractel Hats: Our team's wider fitting running hat of choice!


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