US 20070232468 A1
An elastic resistance exercise device includes an endless elastic resistance member that returns to its original or near original shape and length after being stretched. The elastic member is loosely encased by an endless, gathered fabric sleeve that permits the elastic member to stretch several times its original length and also limits the amount of stretch of the elastic member. Two handgrips are connected to the fabric encased elastic member, and the handgrips are made of a material which is soft and compressible by a user and which returns to its original shape or near its original shape after it has been compressed.
1. An exercise device, comprising:
an endless elastic member;
a sleeve of gathered material positioned around and loosely covering said elastic member; and
a plurality of handgrips connected to said elastic member and to said sleeve.
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This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/786,756, filed Mar. 29, 2006.
The invention relates to an endless elastic resistance device for use in a variety of applications, including exercise.
There are various elastic devices on the market used for resistance, cardiovascular, flexibility and balance exercises, examples of which are Theraband®, manufactured by Hygienic Corporation; and the Versa-Tube™ line of exercise bands, tubes and cuffs. These devices are effective for a variety of strength, fitness and therapeutic exercises; but there continues to be a need for a circular or endless elastic resistance device that prevents the skin from coming in contact with the elastic member and can be comfortably used by individuals with tender or sensitive skin and joints.
Examples of prior art include the Versa-Tube®, Premium Versa-Tube™, Versa-Tube Pro™, Versa-8™ and Versa-Tube™ With Sleeve. All are made of elastic tubing attached to handles. The Versa-Tube™, which is the most basic model, consists of a 48 inch elastic tube attached to hard plastic handles. The device is difficult for some exercisers to use for the following reasons: (1) individuals with tender or sensitive joints in the hand, wrist or fingers have a hard time grasping the handles, (2) the elastic tubing can pinch, chafe or irritate the skin, (3) if the tube should break, it could recoil uncontrollably causing injury to the user or bystanders or damage to property, (4) if one of the handles is accidentally released, it could injure the user or bystanders and (5) the tube is too long for many exercises, particularly if the individual performs an exercise when seated. When the tube is too long for a particular exercise, the user may wrap the tube around the hands to “shorten” the tube. This practice can inhibit circulation and/or irritate the skin or joints. Lastly, the handles of these products cannot be used to perform a variety of exercises.
The Premium Versa-Tube™ has padded handles which are more comfortable than hard, plastic handles; however, it requires the user to grip the handles, which may not be possible for exercisers with tender or sensitive joints. The 48 inch length tube is too long for many exercises traditionally done using an exercise band. When confronted with a tube that is too long for executing the desired exercise, individuals often wrap the tubing around the hand, which can inhibit blood circulation, pinch or chafe the skin, and lead to poor exercise form. Additionally, the handles are not designed to be used to perform a variety of exercises.
The Versa-Tube™ Pro allows the user to adjust the tubing length from 6 inches to 48 inches using a pressure locking system to hold the tube in place. Although this feature allows the user to customize the length of the band, an individual with tender or sensitive hand joints would have difficulty using the locking system and grasping the hard plastic handles attached to the tube. In addition, if the tube should break, it could recoil uncontrollably, and if a handle should accidentally be released, it could injure the user or bystanders.
The Versa-8™ uses a figure eight shaped elastic tube. The tube is fed through rubber or rubber-like material that serves as handles which are located on the far ends of the figure eight. The rubber handles may be difficult for people with sensitive joints to grip, and the handles and tubing can be irritating to individuals with sensitive skin. The handle design of this product make it unusable for some exercises.
The Versa-Tube™ With Sleeve has a 23 inch nylon sleeve that slides freely over the 48 inch tube. It has hard plastic handles. The sleeve helps to protect the body from being rubbed by the tube, but since the sleeve slides freely and is not the full length of the tube, the skin comes in contact with the tube when performing many exercises. The handles, tube length and likelihood of tube-to-skin contact make exercising with this product difficult for some, such as those with fragile skin, tender or sensitive joints, or those who exercise in a seated position. In addition, if the band should break, it could recoil uncontrollably, and if the handles should accidentally be released, they could injure the user. The handles are not designed to be used for a variety of exercises.
Prior art also includes elastic bands or tubes which form a loop, such as the Versa-Cuff™, Cuff™, Versa-O™, and Versa-Loop™. The Versa-O™ is a circular, endless elastic tube that runs through two rubber grips. These grips may be uncomfortable for individuals with tender or sensitive joints to use. When used for certain exercises, such as when the band is used around the legs for abduction exercises, the handles may irritate fragile or delicate skin. Also, because the tubing is fed through the handles which allow the tube to rotate within the handles, the device has a tendency to roll up the legs during certain exercises. The handles are not designed to be used for a variety of exercises, such as those involving muscle adduction.
The Versa-Cuff™ is a circular, endless elastic tube that runs through padded ankle cuffs. These cuffs prevent the tube from rolling up the leg during exercise. Although these cuffs are gentler on the skin, their Velcro® or Velcro®-like closure may be difficult for individuals with sore hand joints or those lacking fine motor skill so use. In addition, the Versa-Cuff™ is specifically for exercising the lower body.
Versa-Loops™ are circular, endless elastic bands. When they come in contact with the skin, these bands may irritate or pinch the skin during exercise. If the bands break, they could recoil uncontrollably and injure the user or bystanders.
The Thera-Band® line of products includes rubber tubing and latex and latex-free bands for resistive exercises. The product line also includes handles. However, none of these exercise products protect the user from coming in contact with the band or tubing, and the handles are not designed to be used as a modality to perform exercise.
There are many products similar to the Versa-Tube™ and Thera-Band® lines of exercise bands, tubes and cuffs, but there continues to be a need for a circular, endless resistance device that (1) protects the skin from coming in contact with the elastic member, (2) protects the user and bystanders from injury if the elastic member should break, (3) has handles that are soft enough to protect the user and bystanders from injury if the user accidentally releases a handle, causing the handle to recoil, (4) protects the user and bystanders from recoil of the elastic member, (5) can be comfortably used by individuals with tender or sensitive joints, (6) can be comfortably used for exercise or other activity when the user is seated (7) has handles which are soft enough that injury is unlikely if a handle should be accidentally released during exercise, and (8) has handles that can themselves be used to perform a variety of exercises.
Several objects and advantages of the present invention are:
Further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.
The present invention, an improved resistance device, provides a sleeve over a substantially circular, endless elastic resistance member that returns to its original or near original shape when stretched. The endless elastic member is made of rubber, latex, or other elastic materials known in the art. The sleeve is less elastic than the elastic resistance member and may be made of cotton, nylon, polypropylene, polyester, wool or other material known in the art. The sleeve acts to protect the elastic member from wear and tear, eliminate skin irritation resulting from contact with the elastic member, limit the stretch of the elastic member, and protect the user or bystanders from injury by retaining the elastic member within its interior.
A preferred embodiment of the present invention includes two balls securely attached to the encased member. Alternative embodiments include one or more balls, square or other geometric shapes attached to the encased member. The shapes are made of foam, sponge, rubber or other similar material known in the art. The shapes return to their original or near original dimensions after being released from compression. The shape(s) are covered in cotton, nylon, polypropylene, polyester, wool or other material known in the art. The shape(s) may be various sizes, ranging from one to twelve inches in diameter. The shape(s) is connected to the encased elastic member. The connection may be accomplished by various embodiments to include the use of reinforcement fabric or material, rings, clips, hooks, or other connection embodiments know in the art.
The objective of the present invention is to provide an endless, elastic resistance device that is: comfortable for the user, gentle on joints and skin, has safety features that protect the user and bystanders, and can be used to exercise multiple body parts whether the user is seated or standing.
One embodiment of the invention comprises an endless elastic member made of rubber, latex or other similar elastic material which returns to its original or near original shape when stretched. The member may be of varying size, circumference, resistance level, and/or diameter to allow for users of different sizes and strengths and to accommodate individuals who exercise when seated. The member is loosely covered in fabric or similar material gathered to allow the band to stretch but limits the stretch of the elastic member. The covering material is soft, and suitable for containing the elastic member in the event it should break. A soft hand grip, which may be in the form of a ball, cylinder, square or other shape, is attached to opposite ends of the loop formed by the fabric-encased elastic member. The hand grips serve many purposes including “anchoring” the device under the foot or other appendage and as a resistance medium for exercise. The handgrips may also be used as an unstable surface for conducting balance training exercises. Each hand grip is made of a either solid or hollow soft rubber, foam or similar product. Each hand grip is covered by fabric or a similar material. The handgrips are attached to the fabric-encased elastic member in such a manner that the handgrips remain securely attached to the fabric-encased elastic member when the handgrips are pulled in opposite directions.
An alternative embodiment consists of the aforementioned elastic member covered in fabric or similar material gathered to allow the elastic member to stretch but limits the stretch of the elastic member to its maximum or near maximum length. The material is suitable for containing the band in the event it should break. This device is suitable for strengthening and stretching the muscles of the upper and lower body of the user.
The preferred embodiments of the present invention may be understood by reference to
The most basic embodiment of the instant invention is partially illustrated in
The sleeve 2 is hollow and surrounds the elastic member. The sleeve 2 is not attached to the elastic member 1. The sleeve 2 is made of fabric and is of such a length to allow the elastic member 1 to stretch several times the original length of the member 1 and limits the stretch of the elastic member 1. The sleeve 2 may be formed by stitches, glue or other means known in the art.
In operation, one uses the device to perform traditional exercise activities.
The invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the specific details shown and described, and departures may be made from such details without departing from the principles of the invention and without sacrificing its chief advantages.