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Publication numberUS20060189438 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/988,869
Publication dateAug 24, 2006
Filing dateNov 15, 2004
Priority dateMay 8, 2002
Publication number10988869, 988869, US 2006/0189438 A1, US 2006/189438 A1, US 20060189438 A1, US 20060189438A1, US 2006189438 A1, US 2006189438A1, US-A1-20060189438, US-A1-2006189438, US2006/0189438A1, US2006/189438A1, US20060189438 A1, US20060189438A1, US2006189438 A1, US2006189438A1
InventorsAshley Black
Original AssigneeBlack Ashley D
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus and methods for physical therapy and athletic conditioning
US 20060189438 A1
Abstract
The present invention provides methods of exercising utilizing the alignment and/or coordination of body parts. A method of exercising includes positioning a human body, having a spine and a pelvis, in a neutral spine suspended prone position. When the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline. A first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline. The neutral spine position is held by contracting at least the transversus abdominus. These and other exercises may be recalled from a storage medium containing video images of a human subject performing exercises in accordance with the described invention.
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Claims(25)
1. A method of exercising comprising:
positioning a human body, having a spine and a pelvis, in a neutral spine suspended prone position, wherein when the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline and a first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curving away from the baseline; and
holding the neutral spine position by contracting at least the transversus abdominus.
2. The method of claim 2, further comprising:
moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position in a direction about the baseline.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position in a direction about the baseline further comprises:
moving the spine from the neutral spine position into a spinal extension position with the remainder of the body positioned in substantially the suspended prone position, wherein, in the spinal extension position, a substantial portion of the spine is positioned below the imaginary baseline; and
returning the spine to the neutral spine position, wherein, once returned, the body and the spine are in the neutral spine suspended prone position.
4. The method of claim 3, further comprising:
rotating the pelvis through an angle of approximately 0 to 45 degrees, wherein an imaginary centerline that is substantially perpendicular to the baseline defines an axis of rotation.
5. The method of claim 2, wherein moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position in a direction about the baseline further comprises:
moving the spine from the neutral spine position into a spinal flexion position with the remainder of the body positioned in substantially the suspended prone position, wherein, in the spinal flexion position, a substantial portion of the spine is positioned above the imaginary baseline; and
returning the spine to the neutral spine position, wherein, once returned, the body and the spine are in the neutral spine suspended prone position.
6. The method of claim 5, further comprising:
rotating the pelvis through an angle of approximately 0 to 45 degrees, wherein an imaginary centerline that is substantially perpendicular to the baseline defines an axis of rotation.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the human body includes at least one elbow, at least one foot, and at least one hip, and positioning the body in the neutral spine suspended prone position includes:
positioning the at least one elbow on a first surface, wherein the at least one elbow is flexed at an angle of approximately 90 degrees; and
positioning the at least one foot on a second surface, wherein the at least one hip is extended to a neutral position.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein at least one of the first surface and the second surface is an unstable surface, and positioning the body in the neutral spine suspended prone position includes using core muscles to hold the at least one unstable surface stationary.
9. A media storage device for storing video images that when displayed include a human subject performing exercises comprising:
positioning a human body, having a spine and a pelvis, in a neutral spine suspended prone position, wherein when the spine is placed in the neutral spine position a natural curvature of the spine is aligned with an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline and a first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline; and
holding the neutral spine position by contracting at least the transversus abdominus.
10. The media storage device of claim 9, wherein the stored images of the human subject further comprise the at least one human subject performing exercises including:
moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position in a direction about the baseline.
11. The media storage device of claim 10, wherein the stored images of the human subject that include moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position in a direction about the baseline further comprise:
moving the spine from the neutral spine position into a spinal extension position with the remainder of the body positioned in substantially the suspended prone position, wherein, in the spinal extension position, a substantial portion of the spine is positioned below the imaginary baseline; and
returning the spine to the neutral spine position, wherein, once returned, the body and the spine are in the neutral spine suspended prone position.
12. The media storage device of claim 11, wherein the stored images of the human subject further comprise the at least one human subject performing exercises including:
rotating the pelvis through an angle of approximately 0 to 45 degrees, wherein an imaginary centerline that is substantially perpendicular to the baseline defines the axis of rotation.
13. The media storage device of claim 10, wherein the stored images of the human subject that include moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position in a direction about the baseline further comprise:
moving the spine from the neutral spine position into a spinal flexion position with the remainder of the body positioned in substantially the suspended prone position, wherein, in the spinal extension position, a substantial portion of the spine is positioned above the imaginary baseline; and
returning the spine to the neutral spine position, wherein, once returned, the body and the spine are in the neutral spine suspended prone position.
14. The media storage device of claim 13, wherein the stored images of the human subject further comprise the at least one human subject performing exercises including:
rotating the pelvis through an angle of approximately 0 to 45 degrees, wherein an imaginary centerline that is substantially perpendicular to the baseline defines the axis of rotation.
15. A method of exercising comprising:
positioning a human body, having a spine, in a neutral spine suspended prone position, wherein, when the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline and a first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline;
moving at least a portion of the spine from the neutral spine position so that the spine is laterally flexed in a direction away from the baseline.
16. The method of claim 15, further comprising:
moving the spine from the neutral spine position into a spinal extension position with the remainder of the body positioned in substantially the suspended prone position, wherein, in the spinal extension position, a substantial portion of the spine is positioned below the imaginary baseline; and
returning the spine to the neutral spine position, wherein, once returned, the body and the spine are in the neutral spine suspended prone position.
17. The method of claim 15, further comprising:
moving the spine from the neutral spine position into a spinal flexion position with the remainder of the body positioned in substantially the suspended prone position, wherein, in the spinal extension position, a substantial portion of the spine is positioned above the imaginary baseline; and
returning the spine to the neutral spine position, wherein, once returned, the body and the spine are in the neutral spine suspended prone position.
18. The method of claim 15, wherein the human body includes at least one elbow, at least one foot, and at least one hip, and positioning the body in the neutral spine suspended prone position includes:
positioning the at least one elbow on a first surface, wherein the at least one elbow is flexed at an angle of approximately 90 degrees; and
positioning the at least one foot on a second surface, wherein the at least one hip is extended to a neutral position.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein at least one of the first surface and the second surface is an unstable surface, and positioning the body in the neutral spine suspended prone position includes using core muscles to hold the at least one unstable surface stationary.
20. A method of exercising comprising:
positioning a human body, having a spine, a pelvis, at least one knee, at least one foot, and a neck, in a neutral spine suspended prone position, wherein, when the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline and a first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline, and the neutral spine suspended prone position includes:
positioning the at least one elbow on a first surface, wherein the at least one elbow is flexed at an angle of approximately 90 degrees; and
positioning the at least one foot on a second surface, wherein the second surface is unstable and is movably operable along a substantially straight line to be brought into and out of proximity with the first surface; moving from the neutral spine suspended prone position to a ball up position, wherein
in the ball up position the spine is flexed by drawing the at least one knee up toward the neck and underneath the body.
21. The method of claim 20, further comprising:
moving from the ball-up position to the neutral spine suspended prone position.
22. The method of claim 20, further comprising:
prior to moving to the ball-up position, rotating the pelvis through an angle of approximately 0 to 45 degrees, wherein an imaginary centerline that is substantially perpendicular to the baseline defines the axis of rotation.
23. The method of claim 22, further comprising:
moving from the ball-up position to the neutral spine suspended prone position, while maintaining the angle of pelvic rotation.
24. The method of claim 23, further comprising:
repeatedly moving between the neutral spine suspended prone position and the ball-up position, while alternating a direction of pelvic rotation between the repetitions.
25. The method of claim 20, wherein the first surface is an unstable surface, and positioning the body in the neutral spine suspended prone position includes using core muscles to hold the first and second unstable surfaces stationary.
Description

This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 10/431,909, filed May 8, 2003, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/378,878, filed May 21, 2002. application Ser. No. 10/431,909 and Provisional Application No. 60/378,878 are hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth herein in their entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to apparatus and methods for conditioning the human body, and, more particularly to physical therapy for human subjects, as well as for training and athletic conditioning of human subjects.

2. Description of the Related Art

A number of organizations, groups, and/or individuals have devoted significant time and resources to studying spinal positioning and movement in the human body. These individuals come from a variety of different fields and backgrounds, which include, for example, doctors, physical fitness trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, and the like. A general consensus from these endeavors is that the spine and the muscular structure stabilizing the spine are considered to have a significant impact on the physical well being of humans.

A variety of exercises, movements, and conditioning regimes have been proposed for conditioning the human body. Unfortunately, these conventional techniques use non-ideal spine positioning, and thus, do not adequately address proper spine positioning, movement, and/or targeting of the muscular structure stabilizing the spine.

In 1927, U.S. Pat. No. 1,621,477, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein, issued to Joe Pilates for an exercise bench. This bench was used by Mr. Pilates in connection with the exercises he developed. Pilate's exercises have been popular for many years and have been used by many people over the years.

Since Mr. Pilates' time, a number of exercises have been developed to try to condition and strengthen the abdominal muscles and the muscles surrounding the spine. Some conventional exercises utilize a prone (i.e., face down) position to at least a limited degree, such as conventional exercises known to those skilled in the art as “Ball-Training,” “Pilates,” and some movements used in yoga. For example, exercises known to those skilled in the art as “Pilates Evolved” (developed by Elizabeth Larkham and Polestar Pilates) contain several specific movements utilizing the prone position. These movements also involve the use of a conventional Pilates reformer machine, which is well known to those skilled in the art.

In one of the Pilates exercises known as the “All Fours Core Control,” the subject is positioned with the subject's knees on an unstable surface (such as the carriage of the Pilates reformer machine), with the hands located on a stable surface (in this case, the foot plate of the Pilates reformer machine). From this position, the subject disassociates at the hips, while sliding the knees out from under the body. Another variation of this conventional exercise is to have the subject disassociate from the hips and shoulder (i.e., sliding out in a suspended prone position from hands and knees into shoulder flexion—as if raising the arms above the head—and hip extension. These exercises can also be performed conventionally in a diagonal orientation of the subject's body. (In a diagonal orientation, one portion of the body is positioned at an angle from an imaginary centerline running from the head to the toes.)

Still another set of conventional movements of the Pilates approach is known as the “Mermaid.” In this exercise, the subject positions the feet at the shoulder pads on the carriage of a Pilates machine, with the subject's hands on the foot bar. The subject then disassociates at the shoulder, sliding out into a shoulder flexion position with the arms extending beyond the head. Another variation on this movement includes disassociating at the shoulders, rising into hip flexion, returning to neutral hip position, and returning to shoulder girdle located over the foot bar of the machine. Yet another variation known as the “Jack Rabbif” has the subject disassociate at the shoulder, bend the knees to 90 degrees, return the knees to a straight position (i.e., parallel with an imaginary centerline of the body from head to toes), and return the body to shoulder girdle over the foot bar.

Another of the Pilates exercises is known as the “Snake and Twist.” In this exercise, the subject places the feet on the foot bar of the machine with the hands on the carriage. The subject then slides the hands outwardly, pushing the carriage away from the foot bar and straightening the body. The subject then returns the hands and carriage to the starting position. The subject can also slide out to straighten the body in a prone position, then rotate the pelvis so that the subject's front faces upwardly, then contracts the abdominal muscles in a crunch to round the lumbar portion of the spine (such as in a conventional abdominal crunch of the type well known in the art). The subject then returns through the same path to the beginning position.

Other conventional exercises often involve stable surfaces, such as a mat on a floor. Such movements include positioning the subject's body in a prone quadraped position (i.e., face down on hands and knees). In this position, the subject then alternately raises the right and left arms, returning to the quadraped position between movements. Another variation is to have the subject alternately raise the left and right legs, while returning to the quadraped position between lifting movements. Still another variation is for the subject to raise the right arm, then the left leg, then the left arm, and then the right leg, each time returning to the quadraped position between each lifting movement.

Still other conventional exercise movements use balls. One example of “Ball-Training’ involves the subject positioned in a prone position with the hands on the floor and the thighs, knees or feet elevated on a ball. One such exercise is for the subject to raise the hips into hip flexion (such as in a pike position) with straight legs, then returning to the beginning position through the same path of the body's movement. Another variation is for the subject to bend the knees into flexion and bring the knees to the chest, rolling the legs along the ball. Still another variation is to have the subject perform push-ups while prone with the thighs, knees or feet elevated on the ball.

Conventional yoga movements have also been proposed. One example of a conventional yoga exercise is performed in a prone position with the subject maintaining a “flat” back position. The subject then holds this position for various intervals of time.

Unfortunately, conventional exercises do not assist a subject in conditioning and strengthening the “core” muscles as effectively as possible. The core muscles (deep and surface) may include, for example, the thoracic spine musculature, the cervical spine muscular, the lumbar spine musculature, abdominals, hip musculature, and/or, the pelvic floor. Moreover, it is believed that conventional exercises do not adequately utilize certain muscles of the human body, including the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, multifidi, and the deep spinal musculature. Conventional exercises do not adequately focus on proper neuro muscular firing of spine movement, hip movement, and other body movements. Proper body movements and spine positioning are important components to effective strengthening, conditioning, and/or rehabilitation of the body.

Exercise videos are commonly known and available. Such conventional videos are available in a variety of formats and stored on a variety of storage media, including videotapes, DVDs, and can also be in digital form, such as mpeg, wmv, avi and other digital formats, which can be stored on CDROMs, computer diskettes, DVDs, hard disk drives, and on other computer storage media, for use and display by a personal computer. Such conventional videos are available for a wide variety of instructional and conditioning exercise, such as yoga, exercises, dances and the like. However, none of the conventional videos provide examples of exercises which effectively and adequately strengthen and condition the core muscles.

The present invention is directed to overcoming, or at least reducing the effects of, one or more of the problems set forth above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides methods of exercising utilizing the alignment and/or coordination of body parts. In one aspect of the invention, a method of exercising is provided. The method includes positioning a human body, having a spine and a pelvis, in a neutral spine suspended prone position. When the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline. A first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline. The neutral spine position is held by contracting at least the transversus abdominus.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a media storage device for storing video images that when displayed include a human subject performing exercises is provided. The exercises include positioning a human body, having a spine and a pelvis, in a neutral spine suspended prone position. When the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline. A first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline. The neutral spine position is held by contracting at least the transversus abdominus.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, a method of exercising is provided. The method includes positioning a human body, having a spine, in a neutral spine suspended prone position. When the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline. A first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline. At least a portion of the spine is moved from the neural spine position so that the spine is laterally flexed in a direction away from the baseline.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, a method of exercising is provided. The method includes positioning a human body, having a spine, a pelvis, at least one knee, at least one foot, and a neck, in a neutral spine suspended prone position. When the spine is placed in the neutral spine position, a natural curvature of the spine is aligned along an imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body with an upper portion, a middle portion, and a lower portion of the spine positioned proximate the baseline. A first curvature portion and a second curvature portion of the spine naturally curves away from the baseline. The neutral spine suspended prone position includes positioning the at least one elbow on a first surface, wherein the at least one elbow is flexed at an angle of approximately 90 degrees. The at least one foot is positioned on a second surface that is unstable. The second surface is movably operable along a substantially straight line to be brought into and out of proximity with the first surface. From the neutral spine suspended prone position, the human body is moved to a ball up position, wherein in the ball up position the spine is flexed by drawing the at least one knee up toward the neck and underneath the body.

In yet another embodiment of the invention, methods of physical therapy comprising exercise methods according to the invention are described, as are methods of athletic conditioning comprising methods of exercising in accordance with methods of the present invention.

In still another embodiment of the invention, a storage medium containing video images of a human subject performing exercises in accordance with the invention is described.

In still another embodiment of the invention, a machine is provided that is useful in performing certain exercises of the present invention.

It is an object of the invention to provide methods and apparatus for more effectively strengthening and conditioning the core abdominal muscles of the human body.

It is yet another object of the invention to provide muscles and apparatus useful in obtaining greater performance from a subject's athletic performance.

It is still another object of the invention to provide methods and apparatus useful in physical therapy and rehabilitation of human subjects.

It is still another object of the invention to provide articles of manufacture which are useful in allowing subjects to perform exercises in accordance with the invention at home or elsewhere, and to learn such methods more easily.

These and other objects of the invention are described and will be apparent from the following detailed description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be best understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify like elements, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a side-view of one illustrative embodiment of an unstable surface;

FIG. 2 is a side-view of the illustrative unstable surface of FIG. 1 in a raised position;

FIG. 3 illustrates a human subject with their hands on a stable raised surface and their toes on an unstable surface;

FIG. 4 illustrates a human subject with their toes on a stable raised surface and their hands on an unstable surface;

FIG. 5 illustrates a human subject in one variation of a NCK Neutral Spine Stance;

FIG. 6 illustrates a human subject in a neutral spine position;

FIG. 7 illustrates yet another human subject in a neutral spine position;

FIG. 8 is a simplified drawing illustrating the human subject's spine in FIG. 7 with relation to an imaginary baseline extending down the subject's body;

FIG. 9 illustrates a human subject with the spine in flexion;

FIG. 10 illustrates the effect of spinal flexion on the discs of the spine;

FIG. 11 illustrates a human subject with the spine in extension;

FIG. 12 illustrates the effect of spinal extension on the discs of the spine;

FIG. 13 illustrates a human subject with the spine in lateral flexion;

FIG. 14 illustrates a human subject in yet another variation of a NCK Neutral Spine Stance;

FIG. 15 illustrates a human subject in yet another variation of a NCK Neutral Spine Stance;

FIG. 16 illustrates a human subject in yet another variation of a NCK Neutral Spine Stance;

FIG. 17 illustrates a human subject in yet another variation of a NCK Neutral Spine Stance;

FIG. 18 illustrates an upper body variation performed by a human subject;

FIG. 19 illustrates different hip and knee variations applied independently to each leg of a human subject;

FIG. 20 illustrates ankle variations performed by a human subject;

FIG. 21 illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a pelvis showing femurs in external rotation;

FIG. 22 illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a pelvis showing femurs in neutral position;

FIG. 23 illustrates a partial cross-sectional view of a pelvis showing femurs in internal rotation;

FIG. 24 illustrates an anterior partial cross-sectional view of a pelvis;

FIG. 25 illustrates a superior view of the pelvis of FIG. 24 taken along line A-A with the pelvis rotated between an angle of 0° and 45° about an imaginary centerline;

FIG. 26 shows one illustrative embodiment of a human subject in a suspended prone position combined with pelvis rotation;

FIG. 27 illustrates a human subject in spinal extension;

FIG. 28 illustrates a human subject in spinal flexion;

FIG. 29 illustrates a human subject in spinal extension with pelvis rotation;

FIG. 30 illustrates a human subject in spinal flexion with pelvis rotation;

FIG. 31 illustrates a human subject in a ball up position;

FIG. 32 illustrates a human subject in a ball up position with pelvis rotation;

FIG. 33 illustrates a human subject in neutral spine with lateral flexion;

FIG. 34 illustrates a human subject in spinal extension with lateral flexion;

FIG. 35 illustrates a human subject in spinal flexion with lateral flexion;

FIG. 36 illustrates a human subject in a start position for QL Lift; and

FIG. 37 illustrates a human subject moving from the position to shown in FIG. 33 to a second position as part of a QL Lift.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and are herein described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the description herein of specific embodiments is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS

Illustrative embodiments of the invention are described below. In the interest of clarity, not all features of an actual implementation are described in this specification. It will of course be appreciated that in the development of any such actual embodiment, numerous implementation-specific decisions must be made to achieve the developers' specific goals, such as compliance with system-related and business-related constraints, which will vary from one implementation to another. Moreover, it will be appreciated that such a development effort might be complex and time-consuming, but would nevertheless be a routine undertaking for those of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of this disclosure.

The present invention relates to conditioning and training of human subjects. More particularly, a plurality of body movements (i.e., exercises) and positions are illustrated and described with particular reference to, for example, spine position, hip position, shoulder position, pelvic position, knee position, ankle position, etc. For the ease of illustration, the terms body movement, exercise, and body position shall be used interchangeably herein to generally describe the placement and/or movement of a human subject in various positions.

Unlike with conventional exercises, the present invention utilizes the alignment and/or coordination of body parts, such as the spine, to maximize muscle activity when performing certain movements. This advantageously results in substantially greater muscle activity, sometimes more than double that produced from conventional exercises. Moreover, rather than just relating to just exercise, the present invention includes the neurological reeducation of the spine.

Poor spine alignment and/or the weakening of the muscles surrounding the spine often cause physical discomfort, such as back pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain, experienced by certain human subjects. Athletes, that are constantly subjecting their bodies to extreme physical activity, often exacerbate the problem, for example. On the opposite end of the spectrum, human subjects that have experienced a debilitating accident or physical condition may also experience increased physical discomfort in their lives. In the middle of the spectrum, “average” human subjects may also experience physical discomfort caused by poor spinal position or the weakening of the muscles surrounding the spine.

With the present invention, the spine and the muscles surrounding the spine are taught proper position and proper movement. Over time, when trained in this manner, the spine is taught to “remember” proper positioning (i.e., the natural positioning of the spine improves), and the stabilizing muscles surrounding the spine (e.g., lumbar spine musculature, abdominals, etc.) and other core muscles are improved. Such improvement may include, for example, increased strength, flexibility, coordination, recover ability, etc. Ordinarily, this results in the reduction or elimination of physical discomfort and/or improvement of the overall physical condition of the human subject.

The movements of the present invention may be performed on a variety of surfaces. The surfaces may be stable (i.e., stationary) or unstable (i.e., movable). The unstable surface may include any number of devices, exercise machines or apparatus that are operable for bidirectional movement along a substantially straight line. That is, the unstable surface moves substantially along a straight line, in either direction, with minimal movement permitted in other directions.

Referring to FIG. 1, a side-view of an illustrative unstable surface is shown. In this illustrative example, a carriage 10 is employed that includes a first set of wheels 14 that are aligned in substantially the same direction. A second set of wheels (not shown) is positioned on an opposite side of the carriage 10, parallel in direction to the first set of wheels 14. With this configuration, the carriage 10 is rollably operable in two directions along substantially a straight line (i.e., bidirectional). Moreover, the carriage 10 includes a surface 18 that allows a human subject to rest their hands, feet, knees, elbows, or other body parts on the carriage 10 when performing certain movements of the present invention.

It should be appreciated, however, that any number of unstable surfaces may be used with the present invention and that use of a particular unstable surface should not be considered a limitation. In another illustrative embodiment, for example, the unstable surface may include a cylindrical foam roller (not shown). As described, for the apparatus in FIG. 1, the foam roller is also bidirectional along substantially a straight line. In yet another illustrative embodiment, the unstable surface may include a Total Gym exercise machine that is glideably operable along a track that is configured along a straight line. During use, the Total Gym allows a human subject to rest their hands, feet, knees, elbows, or other body parts on a flat surface and move the flat surface in a bidirectional motion along the track.

The unstable or stable surfaces may also be raised. Whether or not this feature is employed may depend upon a number of factors, such as the physical condition of the human subject, particular exercise to be performed, injury to be redressed, ultimate goal of the human subject, etc. Referring to FIG. 2, the illustrative unstable surface of FIG. 1 is shown in a raised position. In this example, notches 22 are shown along the carriage 10 for adjustably raising and lowering the surface 18.

In yet another illustrative embodiment, a bar (not shown) is attached to the carriage 10 in a raised position. With this configuration, the human subject may place their hands, feet, toes, or other portions of their body on the bar in a raised position. For the ease of illustration, the terms surface and bar shall be used interchangeably, when describing the portion of an unstable or stable surface a human subject contacts when performing the movements of the present invention. The stable surface may include a floor surface, mat, bar, stationary carriage, or any other device, apparatus, or surface that remains stationary.

When performing the movement of the present invention, a human subject contacts at least a first and second surface. Ordinarily, an upper portion of the human subject contacts the first surface, while a lower portion of the human subject contacts the second surface. It should be appreciated, however, that the identification of a surface as ‘first’ or ‘second’ is intended only for the purpose of illustration and not for the purpose of limitation. When at least one unstable surface is used, resistance may be added in-between the first and second surfaces. For example, a spring or other type of tensioning device may be added between the stable and unstable surface. Use of resistance increases the difficulty of the exercise.

Any combination of stable, unstable, and raised configurations may be employed. For example, the combinations may include stable-stable, stable-unstable, stable-unstable (with resistance), stable-unstable (raised), unstable-unstable, etc. With a stable-stable combination, however, there may be little or no distinction between where the first surface ends and the second surface begins. For example, a single floor mat may serve as the first and second surface, with no definite boundary between the two. In this case, it should be appreciated that the first surface is the surface contacting the upper or lower portion of the human subject, and the second surface is the surface contacting the lower or upper portion of the human subject, as the case may be.

Referring to FIG. 3, a human subject is shown with their hands in contact with a first surface and their feet (e.g., toes and balls of the feet) in contact with a second surface. In this example, the first surface is a raised stationary bar. The second surface is a padded mat. The second surface is slideably operable along tracks. In short, FIG. 3 illustrates, a stable-unstable combination, with the first surface raised.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative embodiment with the subject's feet resting on the raised first surface (e.g., bar) and the subject's hands resting on the second surface. As previously mentioned, any combination of stable-unstable, stable-stable, raised, and with resistance may be employed with the present invention. Moreover, a variety of different exercise equipment, devices, and systems may be used to implement the combinations.

Referring to FIG. 5, a picture of a human subject performing an exercise referred to as the “NCK Neutral Spine Stance” is shown. The subject is in a suspended prone position with the hands placed on a first stable surface (e.g., the floor in this example) and the knees placed on a second stable surface. The subject's shoulders are at about a 90° angle, and the hips are flexed also at about a 90° angle. For the purpose of illustration, these angles are reflected in the drawing. It should be appreciated, however, that some deviation in shoulder and hip angle may occur due to a number of factors, such as flexibility of the subject, injury, muscle tone, etc. In the NCK Neutral Spine Stance, the subject strives to achieve a neutral spine position.

Referring to FIG. 6, a standing subject is shown in a “neutral spine” position. In the neutral position, the spine takes its natural curved shape (which of course varies somewhat from person to person). An imaginary “baseline” may be visualized running down the length of the spine. Because of the natural curvature of the spine when in the neutral spine position, the imaginary baseline is proximate the spine only at the top portion, the middle portion, and the bottom portion of the spine.

In FIG. 7, a human subject is positioned in one variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance (additional variations described below). The subject is in a neutral spine position with a foam roller illustrating the imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body. As shown, the natural curvature of the spine causes a cervical curve, with respect to the baseline, around the neck portion of the subject, and a lumbar curve around the lower back region of the subject.

Referring to FIG. 8, a simplified diagram of the subject's spine positioned in a neutral spine position is shown. Also shown is the imaginary baseline extending lengthwise down the human body. This is approximately the same line illustrated with the foam roller in FIG. 7.

The human spine includes 33 vertebrae. Beginning from the top most head portion of the subject, the cervical portion of the spine (i.e., neck portion) includes seven vertebrae that can be labeled C1-C7. Continuing down the spine, the thoracic portion of the spine includes twelve vertebrae that can be labeled T1-T12. The lumbar makes up the next portion of the spine and includes five vertebrae that can be labeled L1-L5. At the bottom portion of the spine, the sacral includes five fused vertebrae that can be labeled F1-F5.

As shown in FIG. 8, when the subject is in a neutral spine position, the natural curvature of the spine approaches the imaginary baseline in three places. This natural curvature of the spine forms a progressive arc with respect to the imaginary baseline. At the top most portion of the spine (i.e., proximate the subject's head) the natural curvature of the spine approaches the imaginary baseline around vertebrae C1. However, depending upon physical characteristics of the patient, a perfect neutral spine position may not be attainable without some training and conditioning. For example, if the subject spends eight hours a day bent over a desk at work, it may take some training and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles supporting the spine to achieve neutral spine. Moreover, other factors, such as bone structure, muscle tone, injury, disability, etc., may dictate where the spine approaches the imaginary baseline. For these reasons, it may be that the spine approaches the baseline anywhere between vertebrae C1-C3.

The natural curvature of the spine also approaches the imaginary baseline between vertebrae T6-T8. This is approximately the middle back portion of the subject. Between these two points, a cervical curvature of the spine is shown having an apex of approximately 2 inches from the baseline. The cervical curvature occurs around the neck region of the subject, and may also be seen in FIG. 7. Again, it should be appreciate that the exact curvature and measurements will vary from person to person.

From this location, extending to the lower portion of the subject, the natural curvature of the spine forms a lumbar curve with the spine approaching the imaginary baseline between vertebrae F1-F3. Although measurements will vary from person to person, in the typical case, the apex of the lumbar curve will extend approximately 2 inches from the imaginary baseline.

It should be appreciated that the neutral spine position described in FIGS. 6-8 is an optimal neutral spine position. That is, the exact curvature of the spine and other specific physiological details are likely to vary from person to person. Moreover, a subject may require repeated training to achieve an NCK Neutral Spine Stance or a variation thereof, described below. However, once the neutral spine positioned is attained, the transversus abdominus and the pelvic floor advantageously remain in a constant state of isometric contraction against gravity. If the subject is not in a true neutral spine position, the muscles are not called to contract reducing the beneficial effect from the exercise.

The subject may hold the NCK Neutral Spine Stance for selected durations of time. Additional movements are also possible from the NCK Neutral Spine Stance. In general, these additional movements include the coordination of certain body parts with spinal movements about the imaginary baseline. The spinal movements may include, for example, variations of spinal flexion, extension, and rotation.

FIG. 9, shows the subject's spine in flexion; i.e., in a flexed position. FIG. 10 illustrates the effect of spinal flexion on the spine; the discs are extended posteriorly and compressed anteriorily. As shown, when in flexion, the spine moves from neutral spine to a position away from the baseline. It should be appreciated that when the spine is in flexion the effect on the discs will vary down the length of the spine. Moreover, the amount of flexion will likely vary depending on the physical condition, spine shape, and other factors of the human subject.

Referring now to FIG. 11, a subject is shown with the spine in extension; i.e., in an extended position. In this position, as shown in FIG. 12, the spinal discs are expanded anteriorily and compressed posteriority. As described for flexion, when the spine is in an extension position, the spine is moved to a position away from the baseline, but in this case, the spine is moved in direction that is opposite to flexion. Moreover, it should be appreciated that when the spine is in extension the effect on the discs will vary down the length of the spine, and the amount of extension will likely vary depending on the physical condition, spine shape, and other factors of the human subject. The considerations are also equally applicable to other body movements described herein.

As shown in FIG. 13, a subject can also be positioned so that there is lateral flexion of the spine. In this position, the subject's upper body is located at an angle away from an imaginary centerline of the body from head to toe. Lateral flexion of the spine also includes when the subject's upper body is located on the opposite side of the imaginary centerline. In other words, lateral flexion includes when the subject's upper body is located at an angle away from the imaginary centerline in the opposite direction along the same plane.

Referring back to FIG. 5, although not shown, any variation of surface combinations (e.g., stable-unstable, unstable-unstable, raised, etc.) may be used with this body movement. For example, rather than placing the subject's knees on the stable surface (e.g., the floor in this case), the subject may place their knees on an unstable surface, such as the one illustrated in FIG. 1. Generally, the addition of an unstable and/or raised surface increases the difficulty of an exercise, thus increasing the muscle activity. Moreover, although not every surface combination will be illustrated for each exercise described herein, it should be appreciated that any variation of surface combinations may be employed.

A plurality of different variations are possible with the NCK Neutral Spine Stance. The variation selected for a particular human subject may vary depending upon, for example, body type, muscle structure, bone structure, injury, flexibility, etc. Ordinarily, a spine evaluation process is used to determine which variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance is appropriate for a particular human subject. A professional trained in the movements of the present invention may make this selection. The following variations of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance are described in order of increasing difficulty. That is, the amount of muscle activity used to maintain neutral spine increases with each variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance.

Referring to FIG. 14, for example, a first variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance is shown. In this example, the subject is in a suspended prone position with the knees bent and the hips flexed to about a 145° angle. The shoulders are at about a 90° angle. Regardless of the particular variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance, the subject should strive to achieve a neutral spine position. Moreover, before progressing to the next difficult variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance, the subject, while in the NCK Neutral Spine Stance, should be able to contract the transversus abdominus, contract the pelvic floor, and contract the core muscle group by combining the contraction of the transversus abdominus with the contraction of the pelvic floor.

When contracting the transversus abdominus against gravity, the subject should maintain neutral spine. This is likely to feel like a corset/weight belt tightening around the lower abdominals. When contracting the pelvic floor, the spine should not move and the transversus abdominus should remain contracted.

Referring to FIG. 15, a second variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance is shown. With this variation, the subject is in a suspended prone position with elbows placed on a surface (e.g., stable, unstable, etc.) while maintaining the shoulders at about a 90° angle. The knees are placed on a second surface with the hips flexed at about a 145° angle. Again, the subject should strive to achieve a neutral spine.

A third variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance is shown in FIG. 16. With this variation, the subject is in a suspended prone position with the hands placed on a surface with the shoulders at about a 90° angle, and the feet placed on a second surface with the hips at about a neutral position. A neutral spine position should be attained.

Referring to FIG. 17, a fourth variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance is shown. With this variation, the subject is in a suspended prone position with the elbows placed on a surface, and the shoulders at about a 90° angle. The feet are placed on a second surface with the hips at about a neutral position. From this position, the subject should be able to achieve neutral spine.

Variations of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance with the human subject resting on the elbows are fundamental positions for training prone. To maintain this position, an isometric contraction of the abdominals, deep spinal musculature, hip flexors, and scapular stabilizers is required. Moreover, the NCK Neutral Spine Stance calls upon the transversus abdominus, and consequently the multifidi to sustain a contraction for the duration of the suspended prone position. Relaxation of this deep core complex results in the collapse of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance. Therefore, the stabilizers of the core muscles are unable to “cheat” during the movement. For simplicity, further reference to an NCK Neutral Spine Stance may be assumed to include any of the aforementioned variations. As stated, an appropriate variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance for a particular human subject will likely vary depending upon a variety of factors.

Thus far, a variety of body position variations have been described for the NCK Neutral Spine Stance. With regard to upper body variations, in FIG. 5, the human subject is shown with arms extended and the shoulder at about a 90° angle. In FIG. 17, the human subject is shown with elbows flexed at about a 90° angle, and the shoulders also at about a 90° angle. In yet another upper body variation, FIG. 18 shows the human subject with arms extended and shoulders at about a 145° angle. These upper body variations along with additional body position variations, described below, may be used with the NCK Neutral Spine Stance and any additional exercise movements to be described. Moreover, rather than describing every body position variation for each exercise, it is simpler to present the body position variation separately. Once described, it should then become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that any body position combination may be used for a particular exercise, including the NCK Neutral Spine Stance.

With regard to hip variations, in FIG. 17, the human subject is shown with a neutral hip position. In other words, the hips are held at approximately a 180° angle. In FIG. 5, the human subject is shown in a flexed hip position with the hips positioned at about a 90° angle.

Turning now to knee variations, in FIG. 17, the human subject is shown with an extended knee position. In FIG. 5, the knee is flexed to approximately a 90° angle. Referring to FIG. 19, different hip and knee variations may be performed independently for each leg. In this illustrative example, a first leg of the human subject is shown with a flexed hip positioned at about a 90° angle, and a flexed knee also positioned at about a 90° angle. A second leg of the human subject is shown with a neutral hip position and an extended knee position.

As already shown for the NCK Neutral Spine Stance, the human subject may use any combination of hip, knee, and upper body variations. Additional body position variations, described below, may also be employed with the NCK Neutral Spine Stance and other exercises. Moreover, the selected combination of body position variations may vary depending upon a variety of factors, such as the physical condition of the human subject, flexibility, particular exercise to be performed, injury to be redressed, ultimate goal of the human subject, etc.

Ankle position variations may also be employed in combination with the aforementioned body position variations. Referring to FIG. 20, the human subject is shown with a neutral hip position and an extended knee position. The feet of the human subject are positioned on a surface, and the ankle is positioned in plantar flexion. Referring back to FIG. 3, the subject is performing the same body position variations, except that the ankle is positioned in dorsi flexion. Depending upon the particular exercise to be performed, the human may move back and forth between plantar flexion and dorsi flexion ankle positions. The same holds true for switching between any other body position variations.

Referring to FIGS. 21-23, femoral rotation variations are shown. In particular, FIGS. 21-23, respectively, are cross-sectional views showing the relative position of the subject's femurs and spine as the subject moves from a position of external rotation of the femurs to a position with the femurs in parallel to a position in which the femurs are rotated internally. In FIG. 22, for example, the femurs are in a parallel (i.e., neutral position). In FIG. 21, the femurs are in external rotation. In FIG. 23, the femurs are in internal rotation. As described for the ankle variations, depending upon the exercise to be performed, the femurs may be rotated between neutral, external, and internal positions.

As stated, the aforementioned body position variations may be used with different exercises, including the NCK Neutral Spine Stance. As will be shown below, the movements of the present invention may make use of spinal flexion, extension, pelvic rotation, lateral flexion, or a combination of the above. Many of these exercises begin from the NCK Neutral Spine Stance or a variation thereof. The prime mover of a particular exercise will vary in relation to gravity, axis of motion, and the prime mover may change several times within an exercise. The combination of these exercises with the aforementioned body position variations provides a more effective and efficient means of achieving core muscle stabilization.

Returning back to the exercises, the NCK Neutral Spine Stance described above may be combined with pelvic rotation. In FIG. 24, a cross-section of the pelvis and spine is shown in an anterior view. To illustrate the pelvic rotation possible from the NCK Neutral Spine Stance, FIG. 25 shows a superior view of the pelvis taken along the line A-A in FIG. 24. More particularly, FIG. 25 illustrates how a human subject rotates the pelvis about an imaginary centerline, while positioned in the NCK Neutral Spine Stance. As will be shown below, pelvic rotation may be combined with spinal flexion and/or extension.

In FIG. 25, the imaginary centerline runs substantially perpendicular to the imaginary baseline created from a neutral spine position (described above for FIG. 1). The centerline defines the axis of pelvic rotation. As shown, the pelvis may be rotated between 0° and 45° in one direction about the centerline and then returned to approximately a 90° neutral position with respect to the centerline. The pelvis may also be rotated between 0° and 45° in the opposite direction from the centerline and then returned to approximately the neutral 90° position. Moreover, the pelvis may be rotated from a position between 0° and 45° from the centerline through neutral and to an opposite position between 0° and 45° from the centerline in one motion (i.e., the pelvis may be rotated from a right rotation position to a left rotation position or from a left rotation position to a right rotation position in one movement). Any variation of the pelvic rotation may be repeated as desired. FIG. 26, for example, illustrates a human subject in the fourth variation of the NCK Neutral Spine Stance (e.g., extended knee, neutral hip, elbows flexed at about a 90° angle), while performing pelvic rotation.

From an NCK Neutral Spine Stance an exercise referred to as the “Inverted Crunch” may be performed by moving from a neutral spine position to either flexion or extension. In FIG. 17, for example, the human subject is shown in an NCK Neutral Spine Stance with neutral spine. From this position, the subject may perform an Inverted Crunch by moving the spine to flexion or extension. In FIG. 27, for example, the subject has moved from neutral spine (first position) to spinal extension (second position). As shown, a substantial portion of the spine has been moved below the baseline when the subject is in spinal extension. Referring now to FIG. 28, the subject is shown having moved from neutral spine (first position) to spinal flexion (second position). In this example, a substantial portion of the spine is above the baseline when the subject is in spinal flexion.

The actual execution of the Inverted Crunch may depend upon a number of factors, such as the physical condition of the human subject, flexibility, injury to be redressed, ultimate goal of the human subject, etc. Advanced human subjects may perform the inverted crunch, for example, by repeatedly moving from extension through neutral spine to flexion and back again to extension. Beginners or subjects with injury or disability may have to begin, for example, with either flexion or extension and work up to more advanced movements.

The Inverted Crunch may also be combined with pelvic rotation, referred to generally as the “Inverted Crunch with Rotation”. As described in FIGS. 24 and 25, the pelvis may be rotated with an imaginary centerline defining the axis of rotation. Such rotation may be performed in either direction.

Referring to FIG. 29, a human subject is shown having moved from neutral spine to spinal extension with the addition of pelvic rotation. In this example, the subject is shown with one elbow flexed resting on a stable surface. The other arm is slightly bent almost fully extended with the palm resting on a surface for balance. As already described, other body position variations may be used as well. For example, the Inverted Crunch with Rotation may be performed with both elbows flexed at or about 90° angles. Moreover, the exercise may also be performed with flexed knees positioned on the second surface at or about 90° angles.

In one illustrative embodiment, the Inverted Crunch with Rotation is started with the human subject in a NCK Neutral Spine Stance. The pelvis is rotated to between 0° and 45°, and while holding the pelvic rotation, the subject moves into spinal extension. From this position, the subject returns to neutral spine with the pelvis still rotated about the same angle. The extension and return of the spine to neutral position may be repeated as desired. Alternatively, to reduce fatigue, the direction of pelvic rotation may be alternated between movements into spinal extension.

Referring to FIG. 30, the Inverted Crunch with Rotation is shown with the human subject moving into spinal flexion. As described for extension, the subject may rotate the pelvis about the imaginary centerline, while performing the exercise. However, in this example, the subject moves from neutral spine into spinal flexion. It should be appreciated that the timing of the pelvic rotation for both spinal extension and flexion may vary depending upon a variety of factors, such as the physiology of the subject, exercise being performed, injury, etc. For example, the pelvis may be rotated after the subject has achieved spinal extension and/or flexion. With the Inverted Crunch with Rotation, whether performed with spinal extension or flexion, the core muscles are stimulated with emphasis on the more medial obliques. Training with this movement tones the trunk rotators and stabilizers and increases mobility and flexibility to the lateral trunk and lumbar spine.

Referring to FIG. 31, an exercise referred to as the “Ball Up” is shown. In this illustrative embodiment, the elbows of the human subject are positioned on a stable surface, while the feet are positioned on an unstable surface. The unstable surface may include, for example, the carriage of a reformer machine of a type well known in the art, such as the Allegro model which is commercially available from Balanced Body, Inc. of Sacramento, Calif. Again, although only one combination of body positions is shown, other of the aforementioned body position variations and combinations may also be used with this exercise. For example, the subject may place the hands on the stable surface, the knees in a flexed position on the second surface, one surface may be raised, etc.

The Ball Up begins with the subject in a NCK Neutral Spine Stance. From the neutral spine position, the spine is flexed by drawing the knees up toward the neck and underneath the trunk of the body. This is the position illustrated in FIG. 31. In the Ball Up position, the hips, knees, rectus abdominus, and other muscle groups are flexed. The subject can relax from the position shown in FIG. 31 by extending the legs to return to the neutral spine starting position. Repetitions of this movement may be performed as desired.

Another exercise according to the present invention can be referred to as “The Ball Up with Rotation.” The Ball Up with Rotation stimulates essentially the same muscle groups with more emphasis on the obliques. FIG. 32 illustrates one embodiment of the exercise. For simplicity, the Ball Up with Rotation is described using the same body position variations and surface variations as were described for the regular Ball Up (FIG. 31). It should be appreciated, however, that other variation might be used as well.

The Ball Up with Rotation is started in a NCK Neutral spine Stance. The pelvis is rotated to some angle approximately between 0° and 45° about the previously described centerline, while maintaining a neutral spine position. The pelvic rotation may occur in either direction about the centerline. As was described for the regular Ball Up, the subject moves to a second position drawing the legs underneath the trunk of the subject's body, while maintaining the pelvic rotation. One illustrative example of this position is shown in FIG. 32. Although not shown, other examples may include different combinations of body positions, surfaces, etc.

The subject can relax from the position shown in FIG. 32 by extending the legs to return to the neutral spine starting position. Repetitions of this movement may be performed as desired. Although the subject will generally work only one side (i.e., direction of pelvic rotation) at a time, an advanced movement progression includes alternating ball-ups from left to right (i.e., changing the direction of pelvic rotation with each movement).

Another movement of the present invention is referred to as “Lateral Shifts in Prone”. This exercise begins with the human subject assuming a NCK Neutral Spine Stance. In one example, the subject rests the elbows on a stable surface at about a flexed 90° angle. The subject has the knees extended with the feet (e.g., toes and balls of feet) resting on a second surface. From this position, the subject laterally shifts the spine from left to right (i.e., lateral flexion). Referring to FIG. 33, for example, a human subject is shown in such a position with the spine in a neutral position laterally flexed to the subject's left side. As shown, the exercise includes laterally flexing the spine, while maintaining a neutral spine position.

Variations of the Lateral Shifts in Prone include combining spinal extension and/or flexion with lateral flexion. For example, in one illustrative embodiment, the subject moves from neutral spine to flexion or extension and then performs the lateral flexion. Referring, for example, to FIG. 34, the subject is shown in spinal extension with the spine laterally flexed to the subject's right side. In FIG. 35, the subject is shown in spinal flexion with the spine laterally flexed to the subject's right side. In an alternative embodiment, the subject first moves to lateral flexion and then to spinal flexion and/or extension. As described for the other exercises, the order of the movements may vary depending upon a variety of factors.

Yet another movement of the present invention is referred to as the “QL Lift”. Referring to FIG. 36, the subject is shown with one elbow on a stable surface and the subject's feet on an unstable surface. As shown, the subject's pelvis is in a rotated position to the subject's left side. The subject's spinal position is in flexion. The subject moves from this position to a second position above the baseline, laterally shifted to the subject's right side, while still maintaining the same pelvic rotation. The second position is illustrated, for example, in FIG. 37.

Although not shown, the subject may perform a similar movement with the spine position in extension. The pelvic rotation occurs in either direction about the centerline. The subject moves from a first position below the baseline to a second position above the baseline laterally shifted, while maintaining the pelvic rotation.

As will be obvious to those of skill in the art, the exercises shown and described herein can be repeated in any one of a number of fashions, and the motion from right to left or left to right is generally not important for purposes of the invention. Similarly, the number of iterations of a movement shown and described is one which will vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors.

It is believed that the movements of the present invention provide unique benefits. It is believed that the myotactic reflex helps allow a subject to stretch muscles and make the subject's muscles more flexible. By making the subject's muscles more flexible, it is believed that the subject is less prone to injury and has greater strength. In addition, it is believed that the subject's muscles are used to greater effect with the movements of the present invention. In a case study of the electric activity of certain muscles during the execution of certain movements according to the present invention versus conventional exercise movements, it was found that the muscles showed greater activity during execution of movements according to the present invention with few exceptions. The following tables show the results of the case study:

TABLE 1
Exercise Movements
Plank
Plank Arm Free
(Conventional) Plank Plank Allegro Allegro
Pilates All 4 Stable Unstable Unstable Unstable
Muscle Core Control Surface Surface Surface Surface
Lower 62.5 114.4 129.6 117.6 109.5
Rectus
Upper 58.4 112.1 101.8 113.5 103
Rectus
Lower 33.4 112 143.9 121.5 129.2
Oblique
Upper 49.9 177.2 207.9 191.7 177.8
Oblique

(All measurements given in microvolts.)

TABLE 2
Exercise Movements
(Conventional) Inverted
(Conventional) Pelvic Tilt/Feet Pelvic Tilt
Muscle Pelvic Tilt on Ball Unstable Surface
Lower Rectus 33.7 28.2 100.7
Upper Rectus 31.7 27 133.4
Lower Oblique 83.2 57.9 152
Upper Oblique 36.1 24.2 190

(All measurements given in microvolts.)

TABLE 3
Exercise
Inverted
(Conventional) (Conventional) (Conventional) Crunch
(Conventional) Crunch Pilates Crunch Unstable
Muscle Crunch (feet on ball) Hundred (seated on ball) Surface
Lower Rectus 68.9 62.1 101.5 132.1 129.9
Upper Rectus 95.2 67.3 92.6 113.1 118.9
Lower Oblique 48.6 65.6 77.4 116.5 153.9
Upper Oblique 77.7 57.6 110.1 141.9 215.5

(All measurements given in microvolts.)

TABLE 4
Exercise
(Conventional) (Conventional) Oblique
Sidelying Sidelying Crunch Dip
Muscle Crunch with leg lift Unstable Surface
Lower Rectus 42.6 93.2 75.8
Upper Rectus 35.9 60.5 134.6
Lower Oblique 74.8 79.4 120
Upper Oblique 86.5 110.3 150

(All measurements given in microvolts.)

TABLE 5
Exercise
(Conventional) Ball Up
Muscle “True Crunch” Unstable Surface
Lower Rectus 67.8 148.3
Upper Rectus 97.6 160.3
Lower Oblique 85.7 145.9
Upper Oblique 63 205.4

(All measurements given in microvolts.)

TABLE 6
Exercise
Inverted Crunch
(Conventional) (with rotation) Ball Up/Rotation
Muscle Diagonal Crunch Unstable Surface Unstable Surface
Lower Oblique 71.4 144.4 156.4
Upper Oblique 92.1 194 208.7

(All measurements given in microvolts.)

As the foregoing data from the case study shows, the methods of the present invention generally result in greater muscle activity of the human subject. In most cases, the muscle activity during the methods of the present invention result in substantially greater activity, sometimes more than double that resulting from conventional exercises.

It will be appreciated that some subjects will have greater strength and/or flexibility than others. Thus, different subjects will be able to extend or flex to greater angles, for greater time periods, and/or perform more repetitions than other subjects. Moreover, it will be appreciated that the methods of the present invention can be used in a wide variety of situations, including athletic training and conditioning, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and normal exercise.

In another aspect of the present invention, the exercises and movements discussed above can be videotaped with conventional means, such as a video camera. The video images of the human subject performing such exercises can then be stored on any appropriate storage medium for playback on an appropriate device, such as a conventional videotape player, DVD player, or a home computer. That way, the viewer can learn and perform the exercises of the present invention in the same manner as shown in the video images of a human subject. The viewer of such a video can playback the video as to one or all of the exercises shown on the video or can perform one or more of the exercises of the present invention described above in a particular cycle shown and recorded on the video medium.

The particular embodiments disclosed above are illustrative only, as the invention may be modified and practiced in different but equivalent manners apparent to those skilled in the art having the benefit of the teachings herein. Furthermore, no limitations are intended to the details of construction or design herein shown, other than as described in the claims below. It is therefore evident that the particular embodiments disclosed above may be altered or modified and all such variations are considered within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the protection sought herein is as set forth in the claims below.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7367928 *Aug 28, 2006May 6, 2008Shimon StorchExercise device
US7682297 *Oct 16, 2006Mar 23, 2010Gary GrahamTreatment table and exercise device method and apparatus
US8721511Jul 13, 2011May 13, 2014Balanced Body, Inc.Reformer exercise apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/8, 482/140, 482/132
International ClassificationA63B21/00, A63B26/00, A63B71/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B23/0211, A63B23/03575, A63B23/0222, A63B23/0227, A63B23/0233, A63B22/0087
European ClassificationA63B23/035G