REFERENCE TO CO-PENDING APPLICATIONS
Priority is claimed as a 371 of international application number PCT/IL2009/000636, filed on Jun. 25, 2009, which claims priority to Israeli patent application serial number 192476, filed on Jun. 26, 2008.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to the field of therapeutic exercise apparatuses. More specifically, it relates to the application of a set of exercises designed to recover skeletal range of motion, abdominal and back muscle tone balance, as well as to sculpt the muscles for strengthening them.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Indoor exercising has become a common practice in modern society, providing shelter, lighting and often accessibility to the people who come to train. It also necessitates a variety of indoor exercise machines with which to train.
There are three main groups of target training, namely: cardio-vascular, muscle development, and muscle sculpting and toning. These entail a variety of apparatuses and methods of training, targeted at achieving these objectives.
One of the most common type of apparatuses and methods for cardio-vascular training, as well as muscle sculpting and toning, is the indoor walking/running apparatus. This type of apparatus is generally referred to as a “treadmill” apparatus, which is an exercise machine that facilitates indoor walking or running by providing a closed-loop belt, thereby simulating walking/running paths outdoors. Technically, a series of rollers enveloped by a closed-loop belt comprises the exercise area. The rollers translate the linear walking/running motion to rotation of the close-looped belt upon the roller series. The close-looped belt will be referred to herein as an endless tread belt. Thus, the motion is localized to the apparatus area. However, most of the existing types of treadmills restrict the person to upright position activities.
A more distinct group of remedial treadmill-like apparatus is often referred to as “crawlers” or “creepers”. This type of apparatus is characterized predominantly by preset, purpose built sets of limb supports, which are designed to accommodate specific, predetermined, sets of orchestrated movements. By creating mechanical interconnection setup options between the designated limb rests, the executable sets of exercises are limited to specially targeted muscle groups.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,217,487 discloses an apparatus and method for quadrupedal exercise, i.e. exercise by walking or running on all fours in a manner similar to four-footed animals. However, this apparatus is restricted both by the limited placement of the limbs, and by the general exercise position.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,224,909 discloses a dual-plane level mid-body exercise crawler apparatus, that has a set level for the leg rests and a slightly elevated level for the hand rests, both set on a rigid frame This configuration enables a preset series of motions such as side to side and/or cross crawling motion, restricted by a gear train assembly between the motion mechanisms of its separate limb rests. However, the predetermined control over the relative movement of the different limbs, limits the exercise scope to a preset number of motions.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,582,069 discloses an improved linkage or coupling arrangement for an exercise apparatus of the creeping and crawling type having pairs of pads mounted for to-and-fro parallel movement in each of pairs of adjacent channels, wherein the diametrically opposite pads simultaneously move in the same direction and pairs of pads move toward and away from each other, characterized by a single cable strand reeved about two pulleys or drums or two separate strands rove about two spaced pairs of pulleys and interconnecting all of the four pads for such movement or rigid linkage means for interconnecting the pads. However, in such apparatus the predetermined control over the relative movement of the different limbs limits exercise scope to a preset number of those creeping/crawling motions. This apparatus has limited exercise applications by design. It targets specific movement regimes and hence specific muscle groups.
In the prior art a crawler apparatus targets cooperative activity for skeletal mobility recovery and four limb coordination. This is achieved by using synchronized motion of the hands and legs. The limbs are positioned on designated limb rests that are interconnected by a set of pulleys, which enable side to aside and/or cross, crawling motion.
Such a crawling device targets skeletal mobility and coordination by using synchronized motion of the hands and legs when positioned on specifically designated rests. The rests are interconnected so as to enable a restricted set of specific hand and feet creeping/crawling motions.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an endless tread apparatus that is not restricted to designated limb rests and/or specific sets of exercises and muscle groups.
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a crawling apparatus, which targets recuperation of skeletal mobility, as well as promoting mid-sectional muscle strengthening and toning.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for saving room space.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for recovery of skeletal function after trauma.
Further purposes and advantages of this invention will appear as the description proceeds.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention is an exercising apparatus for allowing mobility recovery and slimming activities, comprising: a) an endless belt padded with a relatively soft and elastic material for serving as a sliding sport mat; b) a rolling mechanism for allowing said endless belt to be looped in a relatively low speed around said mechanism, thereby providing a lower belt section and an overlying upper belt section on which a user may perform said activities; c) a supporting surface disposed under the inner surface of said upper belt section supporting relation thereto and depressible therewith under the weight of a user for aiding said user to slide said endless belt.
Preferably, the supporting surface is a set of horizontally spaced rollers; and d) a rigid frame for containing said supporting surface and said rolling mechanism, said frame comprising stands for stabilizing said frame on a suitable surface.
According to one embodiment of the invention, the apparatus further comprises an electric motor for automatically rolling the rolling mechanism in relatively slow speeds. Preferably, the apparatus further comprises control means for controlling the direction of rolling and the speed of rolling of the rolling mechanism. Preferably, but not limitatively, the rolling mechanism consists of a rear driving roller and a front driving roller.
According to an embodiment of the invention, the apparatus further comprises one or more handles attached to at least one of the stands for aiding the user to perform some of the activities on the endless belt.
According to an embodiment of the invention, the endless belt is foiled with elastic and soft material. Preferably, the endless belt further comprises a knobby surface for massaging the body of the user while the endless belt is sliding.
According to some embodiments of the invention, the apparatus further comprises transmission systems for connecting in a serial manner between each of the two adjacent units of said exercising apparatus, thus allowing said adjacent units to fold. Preferably, the transmission system is at least one transmission belt connecting between the rear driving rollers of a first unit of said apparatus to the front driving roller of second unit of the apparatus. Preferably, each of the units can be operated individually.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The above and other characteristics and advantages of the invention will be better understood through the following illustrative and non-limitative detailed description of preferred embodiments thereof, with reference to the appended drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 schematically illustrates an exercising device for skeletal mobility recovery and slimming, according to one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 schematically illustrates the handle for the device of the device of FIG. 1, according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 schematically illustrates a portion of the endless belt of the device of FIG. 1, according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4 schematically illustrates the internal elements of the device of FIG. 1, according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 5 schematically illustrates an example for implementing the exercising device, according to one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 schematically illustrates another example for implementing the exercising device, according to another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 7a schematically illustrates an exercising device for skeletal mobility recovery and slimming provided with foldable means, according to another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 7b schematically illustrates the device of FIG. 7a in a folded position;
FIGS. 8a and 8b schematically illustrate examples of exercises activities using the device of FIG. 7a;
FIG. 9 schematically illustrates examples of exercises activities using the device of FIG. 1; and
FIGS. 10A-10C schematically illustrate examples for implementing a single smaller version unit of the apparatus of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
The present invention is an endless belt-like exercising sport mat device used for performing spinal based exercises that require a relatively very slow crawling movement of the body, forwards and/or backwards, in positions such as on the limbs, backside seating, lying on the back, lying face down and the like as shown in FIG. 9.
The slow movement in such activities is required in order to allow the user to perform non-linear or spiral natural movement of the joints and other body parts, such as the hands or legs. Preferably, the device is used to aid the user to rehabilitate or maintain different parts of the body, such as spine and joints.
Until now, in order to perform such crawling activities, it has been required to use a relatively long route (i.e., large room space for each user) and a plurality of exercise sport mats along that route. The device proposed by the present invention is aimed to replace the need for such a relatively large room space as well as the need to use a plurality of sport mats.
The device of the present invention is directed for both skeletal motion recovery and mid-section slimming and toning. It is unique since it is not dependent on the specific positioning of the four limbs, i.e., hands and legs, to enable application of the suggested method of use. Furthermore, the device of the present invention is not restricted to designated limb rests and/or specific sets of exercises and muscle groups. There has not been yet a skeletal motion recovery apparatus that is not dependent on limb movement to manipulate the spine and connecting skeletal structure.
Preferably, but not limitatively, the device of the present invention is directed to functional body recovery. This encompasses recuperative and remedial activities such as cardio-vascular or mechanical motion recuperation after major surgery, loss of mobility or of limbs/limb-mobility due to trauma. The device of the present invention is intended to accommodate specific sets of exercises for such activities. Such type of activities may achieve the following advantages:
- The position of the body in such activities eliminates damage to the spine and joints of the user;
- The crawling movements help to reduce the load on the spine and on the muscles of the user;
- Massaging different body areas, preferably, around the spine (e.g., for internal body parts and the nervous system);
- Rehabilitation and development of nervous system;
- Drainage of liquids from the lymphatic system, after the released from various tissues;
- Healthy muscular development;
- Slimming and fat burning, especially at the abdominal area of the body;
- Rehabilitation of digestion system, respiratory system, urinary canal, etc.;
- Skin stretching over the body;
Referring now to FIG. 1, the exercise device of the present invention shown therein is used to perform the aforementioned activities. The device comprises an endless belt 11, a rolling mechanism (an example for such mechanism is described with reference to FIG. 4) and rear and front stands made of suitably rigid material adapted to permit placement of the apparatus on a generally flat supporting surface such as a floor, such as rear stand 13 and front stand 14.
According to one embodiment of the invention, endless belt 11 is made of relatively soft and elastic materials, such as those used in common sport mats (e.g., latex or other suitable material from which common sport mats are made of). Preferably, the endless belt 11 is also padded or covered with a foiled material for protecting the soft and elastic materials. Of course, the padding or covering can be replaced. According to one embodiment of the invention, the external surface of the endless belt is provided with a knobby surface for massaging the body of the user (not shown).
The apparatus of the present invention and accordingly the endless belt can have different dimensions. For example, the upper outer surface of the endless belt (i.e., the area used for performing the activities) can have the size of a standard sport mat, such as about 100 cm width and about 200 cm length. Of course, the length as well as the width of the activity surface of the endless belt can be smaller or even larger.
According to some embodiments of the invention, endless belt 11 comprises one or more layers. FIG. 3 schematically illustrates an endless belt 31 which is made of two different layers, an external layer 32 and an internal layer 33. External layer 32 is made of a soft and elastic material and is used as the working surface of the user. Internal layer 33 is made of rigid materials, such as Kevlar, and it is used to protect layer 32 from the internal elements of the device of the present invention as will be described hereinafter (see FIG. 4).
FIG. 4 schematically illustrates the internal elements of the device of the present invention. Some of the internal elements are used to support the user during the activities on the endless belt and others elements are used to drive the endless belt, either manually or automatically. The internal elements comprises a supporting surface and a rolling mechanism.
The supporting surface is used for supporting the body of the user and for aiding the user to slide the endless belt while performing the activities on the endless belt. According to one embodiment of the invention, the supporting surface is a set of horizontally spaced rollers, such as rollers 45, 46, 47 and 48. The rolling of the rollers aids the user to slide the endless belt, as the apparatus of the present invention is directed to activities which require the user to move forward or backward while a large area of his body is in contact with the endless belt (e.g., while laying on the back or contrarily lying with his face down and the like).
The rolling mechanism is used for allowing the endless belt to be looped in a relatively low speed around such mechanism, thereby providing a lower belt section and an overlying upper belt section on which a user may perform the activities. According to an embodiment of the invention, the rolling mechanism consisting of a rear driving roller 41 and a front driving roller 42.
Optionally, the device of the present invention further comprises an electric motor 44 and a corresponding transmission system, such as transmission belt 43 that is interconnected between one of the driving rollers, such as front driving roller 42, and the rotor of motor 44. The electric motor 44 is used for automatically rolling the front driving roller 42, thereby causing the endless belt to slide or move.
Preferably, the supporting rollers 45-48 are used for supporting the body of the user while doing crawling activities on the endless belt and for aiding the user to perform the crawling movement. In most exercises, almost the entire body of the user is in a lying position on the endless belt, or at least a relatively large surface or portion of the body is in direct contact with the endless belt. Preferably, but not limitatively, the internal elements are located within a rigid frame which has corresponding roller-receiving cavities for the set of supporting rollers 45-48.
The endless belt of the device of the present invention covers the internal elements and whenever the user forces a movement of the endless belt with his body during performance of a crawling movement, the rollers are caused to be rotated. According to another embodiment of the present invention, whenever the optional motor is active, it rotates the rollers 45-48, causing the endless belt 11 to move.
As aforementioned, the endless belt may have a padded layer (e.g., layer 32 in FIG. 3) and a relatively rigid layer, such as layer 34 in FIG. 3. The rigid layer 32 is connected directly to the driving rollers 41, 42 to permit the movement of the endless belt. The top surface of the endless belt is provided with suitable padding, such as layer 32 for protecting the extremities of the limbs and other parts of the user body, as well as to avoid any damage to them.
As aforementioned, the device of the present invention has two basic modes of operation: a manual motion mode during which the person who is training creates the motion in the tread belt, and a motorized motion mode wherein a motor is used to create the motion in the endless tread belt. This is achieved by connecting an electrical motor to one or more of the endmost rollers, of the roller series. The said roller series provides mechanical support to the endless tread belt topside (i.e., the exercise area) as well as optionally delivering motion from an electrical motor to rotate the tread belt in a continuous operator controlled regime.
Referring now to FIG. 2, the device of the present invention may further comprise one or more handles capable of being attached to each one of the stands. Preferably, but not limitatively, the device of the present invention comprises two handles 15 connected to the front stands 14. Of course, the handles 15 can be detached from the front stands, and can be attached to the rear stands 13.
According to an embodiment of the present invention, the exercise device further comprises control unit, for controlling the movement of the endless belt, either forward or backward, and for controlling the relatively low speeds of its movements.
Optionally, the control unit is further provided with a remote control unit, for remotely controlling the device or while the user is on the exercise device in such a position that he cannot operate the control unit.
Referring now to FIGS. 7a and 7b, according to some embodiment of the invention, the apparatus may further comprise transmission systems for connecting in a serial manner two adjacent similar units of the exercising apparatus of the invention (FIG. 7a), thus allowing the adjacent units to fold (FIG. 7b). FIGS. 8A and 8B schematically illustrate examples for the folding angles of the apparatus according to the embodiment described with reference to FIG. 7a.
FIG. 7a schematically illustrates an exercising device 70 for skeletal mobility recovery and slimming provided with foldable element or means, according to another embodiment of the present invention. Device 70 comprises two or more individual movable or rotatable units, such as units 71a-71e, rear and front stands made of suitably rigid material adapted to permit placement of the apparatus on a generally flat supporting surface such as a floor, such as rear stand 73 and front stand 74.
Each of the individual movable units, such as units 71a-71e, comprises the following main elements: an endless belt, a supporting surface and rolling mechanism. The elements of each unit are connected and operated in similar manner to the structure of the device of the present invention, as described hereinabove. Preferably, but not limitatively, each of the units 71a-71e can be operated individually.
Actually, each of the movable units 71a-71e is a resized structure of the device of the present invention, but in a shorter or smaller size For example, the dimensions of the upper outer surface of the endless belt (i.e., the area used for performing the activities) are about 100 cm in width and about 40 cm in length. Of course, the length as well as the width of the activity surface of the endless belt can be smaller or even larger.
Units 71a-71e are connected via a transmission system, which comprises rollers and a suitable transmission mechanism, such as rollers 76b of unit 71b, roller 76c of unit 71 and transmission belt 77 which physically connects units 71b and 71c. A similar transmission system can be located at the opposite side of units 71b and 71c (e.g., transmission belt 78). The transmission systems which connect each two adjacent units allow all the units 71a-71e to work simultaneously (i.e., as a uniform surface).
Each one of the two or more individual endless belts of each unit is made of a relatively soft and elastic material, or is padded or covered with foil material, such as latex.
According to another embodiment of the invention, a single unit of the apparatus, i.e., a smaller version of the apparatus of the present invention can be used as seat, thereby allowing performing exercises while sitting on such a single unit. FIGS. 10A-10C schematically illustrate three examples respectively for implementing a single smaller version unit 71b of the apparatus of the present invention. In FIG. 10A, unit 71b is provided with two handles 15 and is placed on a suitable base 90. In FIG. 10B, base 90 is provided with a stand 91, preferably, but not limitatively, having an adjustable height, thus allowing the adjustment of the height of unit 71b. In FIG. 10C, unit 71b is embedded within a suitable chair formed from base 92. Optionally, a controller 93 for controlling the operation of unit 71b is also shown.
The exercising device of the present invention can be implemented in a plurality of ways and can be integrated or implemented with different structures, thereby allowing a user to perform different activities with different parts of the body. FIG. 5 schematically illustrates an example for implementing an exercising device 71b as a table like form, according to an embodiment of the invention. In such an implementation, a user 52 can perform different exercises by placing his forearms (e.g., the part of the arm which extends between the elbow and the wrist) on the upper surface of the exercising device 71b. The table-like form may further comprise an integrated bench or chair, such as bench 51. User 52 may perform the exercises while sitting on bench 51.
The exercising device of the present invention can be also implemented as the back part of a chair. FIGS. 6A and 6B schematically illustrate an example for such an implementation, by which an exercising device 61 of the present invention is used as the back part of a chair 60. Such an implementation allows a user to perform different exercise or activity while sitting on chair 60. As illustrated, the endless mat 62 of the exercising device 61 has a knobby surface 67 for additional massaging of the body of the user.
Although embodiments of the invention have been described by way of illustration, it will be understood that the invention may be carried out with many variations, modifications, and adaptations, without exceeding the scope of the claims.