BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a device and method for muscle training. The device is a collar or neck and head support for stabilizing the neck and head of a user during athletic training and exercise. The method relates to using the device of the present invention or a similar device for training the muscles of the neck and head during athletic training and exercise in order to learn to keep the head straight during performance of a particular athletic activity.
2. Description of the Related Art
Biomechanically, the motion of the human head guides and controls the movement and balance of the torso. In order to properly stabilize and guide the human body, it is necessary to stabilize the head. Particularly, athletes train to maintain their heads in stable positions with respect to their bodies in order to improve muscular performance and control. Various techniques and devices have been employed to train the muscles of the neck through the principle of “muscle memory” in order to maintain a stable position during athletic activity, but such techniques are often dangerous, highly complex or require bulky, complex and uncomfortable equipment.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A muscle training device is needed which effectively trains the athlete to maintain his or her head in a stable position with respect to his or her body. While various devices are available for supporting the head and neck for various purposes, there is a need for a device that can be worn during athletic training and exercise that will train the muscles to support the head in proper position for athletic activities. Thus, a device and method for muscle training solving the aforementioned problems is desired.
The device for muscle training is a collar or neck and head support worn by a user during athletic training and exercise. The neck and head support stabilizes the user's neck and head with respect to the remainder of the user's body during a chosen athletic exercise. The neck and head support includes a front portion for receiving and stabilizing the neck of the user, and a rear portion having a head support portion for stabilizing the base of the user's head, along with a shoulder support portion for engaging the user's shoulders. In use, the neck and head support maintains the user's neck and head in a stable position with respect to the user's body during athletic training in order to train the user to keep his or her head straight and stable during the athletic activity to be performed. The neck and head support is adjustable, portable and comfortable for the user to wear. The method for muscle training generally involves wearing a collar or head and neck support that supports the head in an optimal position for athletic activities while performing repetitive athletic training exercises and activities.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.
FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a device for muscle training according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an environmental side view of the device for muscle training according to the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a front view of the device for muscle training according to the present invention.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
Referring to FIG. 1, a user is shown wearing the device for muscle training 10 while practicing the game of tennis. Although shown in use as a tennis training aid, it should be understood that the device 10 may be used for training in any athletic endeavor that requires the user to keep his or her head straight with respect to his or her body. Such activities include, but are not limited to, tennis, golf, baseball, track, horseback riding and similar athletic activities. Through the repetitious use of device 10 during athletic training, the user will learn, through the principle of muscle memory, to maintain his or her head in a stable position with respect to the user's body, thus resulting in improved form and balance during athletic activity.
FIG. 2 illustrates a user wearing the device 10. As shown, the device 10 includes a collar or neck and head support having a neck support portion 16, a head support portion 12 and a shoulder support portion 14. The neck and head support may be formed from foam rubber, such as neoprene, or any other suitable material providing both stabilizing support for the neck and head of the user and also comfort for the user during athletic training.
As best shown in FIG. 3, neck support portion 16 is divided into first and second lateral sections 24 and 26, respectively, by an adjustment gap 22 defined in the front of the neck support portion. First and second sections 24, 26 are formed of a flexible and resilient material, such as neoprene, allowing the user to insert his or her neck through adjustment gap 22 to be received by neck opening 18. First and second sections 24, 26 can then be adjustably and releasably joined together by adjustment strap 20. Adjustment strap 20 is shown as having first and second strips affixed to opposite sides of the adjustment gap and as being made from hook and loop fastening material to allow for continuous adjustment of the diameter of the neck opening, but adjustment strap 20 may take any form which provides for releasable and adjustable closure of first and second sections 24, 26, such as, for example, a buckle and strap, or a series of snaps.
A head support portion 12 is further provided, projecting upwardly from a rear portion of the neck and head support. Head support portion 12 supports the base of the user's head and maintains the user's head in a stable and steady position with respect to the user's neck. Although shown as having a substantially parabolic contour in FIG. 3, it should be understood that head support portion 12 may have any desired contour, dependent upon the needs and desires of the user. Head support portion 12 may be selectively contoured specifically for particular athletic events for which the user is training.
As best shown in the side profile of FIG. 2, head support portion 12 and neck support portion 16 define an arcuate contour in an upper edge of the head and neck support. As shown, this contour conforms to the lower jaw and chin of the user, thus providing full support and stabilization for the user's head, rather than just supporting the base of the head through contact with head support region 12.
Further, a shoulder support portion 14 is provided, as shown in the drawings, projecting downwardly from the neck and head support to engage the user's shoulders and upper back. As best shown in FIG. 2, the shoulder support portion 14 stabilizes and supports the user's head and neck with respect to the user's shoulders and upper back. In combination with the head support portion 12, the shoulder support portion 14 restricts movement of the user's head and neck with respect to the shoulders and upper back, maintaining a substantially vertical position of the user's head with respect to the upper back.
As shown in FIG. 2, the shoulder support portion 14 and the neck support portion 16 define a lower surface of the neck and head support having a substantially arcuate contour, which conforms to the user's shoulders and engages the upper curve of the user's back. This not only provides for user comfort, but further allows the lower edge of the neck and head support to fully engage the user's shoulders and upper back, thus providing for stability of the neck and head of the user with respect to the user's shoulders and upper back.
In use, the user inserts his or her neck through gap 22, and the neck of the user is received within opening 18. The adjustment strap 20 allows the user to adjust the circumference of neck support portion 16 to conform to the user's neck. Adjustment strap 20 should releasably close sections 24 and 26 to one another and should be adjusted such that the user's neck is held securely but comfortably within opening 18.
The head support portion 12 is aligned centrally with the base of the user's head to provide support for the base of the user's head, and the shoulder support portion 14 is aligned centrally with the user's shoulders and upper back. When worn, the device for muscle training 10 will limit movement of the neck and head, with respect to the body, by approximately 75% to 80%. When properly aligned with the base of the user's head and the user's upper back and shoulders, device 10 maintains the user's head and neck in a stable position, both in the vertical and horizontal directions.
Biomechanically, the motion of the user's head controls the movement and balance of the user's torso. Through limiting motion of the head with respect to the rest of the body, extraneous and unwanted motion in the body is minimized. Device 10 is worn by the user during athletic training and exercise, and particularly during repetitive exercise (since repetition is thought to develop “muscle memory” and the habit of holding the head in a desired position or attitude) in order to train the user to maintain his or her head and neck in a stable position with respect to the rest of the user's body. The muscle training device 10 is both portable and comfortable for the user to wear, as well as effective in training the athlete to maintain his or head in a stable position while engaging in the particular exercise or activity.
Device 10 is worn only during training in order to teach the athlete, through muscle memory, how to maintain his or head in the proper stable position. Through repetition, the user learns to maintain his or her head in the stable position enforced by device 10. The user's muscles, further, become accustomed and strengthened to the stable position of the user's head and neck. Once training is completed, adjustment strap 20 is opened and the user may remove device 10 for transport, storage or cleaning.
It will be understood that, although described with respect to the device 10, the method of muscle training according to the present invention extends to the use of any collar or head and neck support that maintains the head in a level attitude and squared with the shoulders so that the head is directed straight ahead. The collar should prevent the head from jerking, e.g., when swinging a baseball bat, or from bobbing up and down with running. In this way, the muscles of the head and neck are trained by repetitive exercises and training activities to work in unison with the body, keeping the eyes focused on the goal and avoiding unnecessary and wasted effort that would otherwise occur by movement of the head.
It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.