CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The present application claims priority under 35 USC 119(e)(1) from U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Ser. No. 61/655,974, filed Jun. 5, 2012, for a Weighted Device, with common inventor.
- REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present application is a regular utility application for patent claiming the benefit of priority under 35 USC 119(e)(1) from U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Ser. No. 61/655,974, filed Jun. 5, 2012, for a Weighted Device, with common inventor. The inventor is an independent inventor with no assignment and is therefore eligible for small entity status.
The present invention is in the technical field of physical health and more specifically fitness and therapeutical aids.
Stretching is a tenet of general fitness and athletic training. The benefits of stretching are many. It can relax and calm, provide a sense of peace and well-being, thereby reducing stress, lengthen muscles, prevent injury, improve flexibility, increase blood flow and circulation, help with balance and coordination, and improve range of motion, circulation, and posture (1). For this reason stretches, in addition to importance in rehabilitation, are incorporated into the regimens of many athletic training programs as well as practiced separately such as in yoga.
Yoga is the Hindu practice of physical, mental and spiritual discipline originating in ancient India. Today it is widely used throughout the world to improve physical and mental health. In the West, the term “yoga” is today typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas, or postures, or as a form of exercise. There is evidence that the practice of yoga has positive effects to mental, physical and physiological health (2,3,4,5). Yoga is used for treatment of cancer and heart disease patients, asthma sufferers and those with substance abuse or mental health issues (2,3,4,5).
The benefits of yoga in athlete training programs are becoming more universally recognized (6). This discipline aids flexibility, balance, and whole-body strength, which yield improvements in an athlete's form, efficiency, and power. Yoga's attention to concentration and breath awareness is thought to improve mental focus and endurance (6). Injury prevention and core strengthening are the main benefits of yoga to athletes. Yoga helps strengthen the muscles that are underused and reduces soreness in muscles that are tight from practicing the primary sport (7).
Massage therapy also provides many benefits to athletes, rehabilitating and elderly patients, as well as the general population (8). These include increasing circulation, stimulating the flow of lymph in the lymphatic system, relaxing and softening injured and overused muscles, reducing spasms and cramping, increasing joint flexibility, reducing recovery time, helping to prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminating subsequent pains of the athlete at any level, and releasing endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. Also, massage therapy is used in treatment of chronic illness, injury, and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain. In addition it reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred. It can improve range-of-motion and decrease discomfort for patients with low back pain, relieve pain for migraine sufferers, and decrease the need for medication. Additionally, massage therapy provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion. It also assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays (8).
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Several aids or props are used in yoga and stretching to assist in achieving certain poses and stretches. These include straps or ropes, pillows, blocks, and sandbags. The sandbags are used as weights to strengthen muscles and also stabilize parts of the body during certain poses. These bags generally weigh between five and ten pounds filled, are rectangular, with dimensions of 17.8 cm by 43.2 cm (7 in. by 17 in.), and have a handle attached to one of the shorter sides. They are sold commercially either in pre-filled or in un-filled versions. One problem with sandbags is that they are not stable, the sand falls to the bottom and the bag slips from position. A second problem is that the sand shifts inside the bag, due to gravity, and therefore the weight is not distributed uniformly. The dimensions of the sandbags, partly dictated by the unequal distribution of weight, although good for using as arm and in some instances leg weights, are also not optimal to use in stabilizing or anchoring portions of the body.
The present invention is a weighted device. This device is intended to assist its users in achieving optimal stretches, improve muscle strength and conditioning when used in yoga and strength training, and increase circulation and healing when used in a massage therapy setting.
In any stretching regiment there are certain postures where constricted muscles need aid in lengthening. The present weighted device assists by isolating muscles or muscle groups and/or anchoring certain limbs or body portions. In one possible configuration and by non-limiting example, the embodiment relates to a weighted device for isolating muscles or muscle groups and stabilizing the body in stretches and yoga positions and a method of using the weighted article. The invention and its use is applicable to personal and group fitness programs, including but not limited to aerobics, yoga and pilates, and athletic training programs such as soccer, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading, rock climbing and swimming, as well as massage therapy routines.
The weighted device is comprised of two, essentially square weighted panels joined by a reinforced fabric portion. The weighted panels are constructed using two fabric layers between which a weighted material is contained. Stitching binds the fabric layers and weighted material therein, such stitching being arranged in a block pattern such that a distinct amount of the weighted material is housed within each section, thereby distributing the weight housed between the fabric layers evenly and preventing the weighted material from sliding and therefore unevenly distributing weight within the layers and over the entire device. The weighted material may be any material with density greater 200 kg/m3 for example gel, seeds, sand, gravel, stone, metal or plastic. The device is designed to weigh between 2.26 kg (5 lbs) and 18.2 kg (40 lbs.). Handles have been incorporated on each side of the device, and loops may be incorporated at each corner through which a yoga strap or rope can be passed.
The device solves the problem of unequal weight distribution posed by the sandbags. In solving this problem the device also alleviates the problem of the sandbag slipping from position. In addition the present device is designed to be 38.1 cm by 53.3 cm (15 inches by 21 inches) for the smaller device, and 45.7 cm by 63.5 cm (18 inches by 25 inches) for the larger device, as opposed to the size of the sandbags which is roughly 17.8 cm by 43.2 cm (7 in. by 17 in.). The greater width of the present device enables it to cover a larger area of the body and drape properly over portions of the body to achieve the desired stretch or muscle strengthening result. In addition the middle linking fabric portion of the present device enables the two weighted sides to be positioned at different angles to each other.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In applications of yoga, strength training and massage therapy, the present invention has the effect of intensifying the effect of gravity, fatiguing the contracted muscles and providing greater lengthening in a shorter time frame when compared to routines that do not include the present weighted device.
FIG. 1 is a top view of the original design for the weighted device.
FIG. 2 is a top view of the present design for the weighted device.
FIG. 3 is a depiction of a method of using the device securing two body portions in a supta matsyendrasana position.
FIG. 4 is a depiction of a method of using the device in a locust pose or shalabasana.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 5 is a depiction of a method of using the device in a massage therapy setting.
To describe the invention in more detail FIGS. 1-5 are provided. The present weighted device is shown in FIG. 2. FIG. 1 is a drawing of the original design of the invention. After construction of the FIG. 1 device design, it was realized that forming pockets to house the weighted material would be of benefit. Formation of the pockets allows the user to remove the weighted material from the device, wash the device, or modify the weight of the device by filling it with a different amount of or a different weighted material. FIG. 2 shows the modified and present form of the invention.
Although the device of FIG. 2, has been fabricated in the dimensions for the larger sized embodiment described below, the inventor foresees a need for multiple sizes for different applications. The preferred sizes for present device include a smaller device with dimensions of 38.1 cm by 53.3 cm (15 inches by inches), with a total weight of 6.81 kg (15 pounds), and a larger device with dimension of 45.7 cm by 63.5 cm (18 inches by 25 inches) and a total weight of 9.08 kg (20 pounds).
Further, still referring to the invention as shown in FIG. 2, the device is roughly symmetrical around a reinforced center binding strip , and can be thought to be composed of two weighted sides [2,3] and the reinforced center binding strip . The reinforced center binding strip serves as a site for a handle  to be attached, to one or both sides of the device. In addition the center binding strip allows the device flexibility and the user to weight a body portion with one weighted side and have as an anchor the other weighted side lying on the floor, ground or mat as in FIG. 3. Alternately the device could be folded in any number of angles to be positioned on two adjacent body portions that are at any angle to each other. Further, loops  can also be attached to the corners and/or sides of the device to enable a yoga strap to be attached to the device.
Furthermore, still referring to the invention of FIG. 2, stitching is present in a regular pattern in horizontal lines and vertical lines to one another such that twelve interior pockets, 12.7 cm by 12.7 cm (5 in. by 5 in.) in the smaller device, and 15.2 cm by 15.2 cm (6 in. by 6 in.) in the larger device, are formed between the top  and bottom  layers of the fabric. Zippers, four for each device in these embodiments, are sewn into the horizontal seams of the top layer of fabric, so that the individual pockets can be accessed. This allows the user to place and remove individually wrapped weighted bags into each pocket, creating equally distributed weight and a device that can be washed. Flaps of fabric  cover the zippers to provide a more aesthetically pleasing device. Alternate methods of closing the pockets may be use of Velcro, snaps, hooks, buttons, or other closure means. It is envisioned that one may seek to achieve the same goal of equal weight distribution between two fabric layers using tufts as are used in seat cushions, or by other suitable means.
The pockets here were filled with rounded river pebbles of 0.64 to 0.95 cm (0.25 to 0.375 inches) diameter. The total amount of river pebbles, equaling 6.81 kg (15 lbs.) for the smaller device and 9.08 kg (20 lbs.) for the larger device were distributed to each of twelve individual bags. The bags were made from 4 mm thick plastic with the dimensions of 12.7 cm by 12.7 cm (5 in. by 5 in.) for the small device, and 15.2 cm by 15.2 cm (6 in. by 6 in.) for the large device. The bags were heat sealed. It is envisioned that the material used for weight may be any small nearly uniformly sized gravel, rocks, metal or plastic balls or pellets, a gel or semi-solid liquid. The total weight of the devices here is 6.81 kg (15 lbs.), for the smaller device, and 9.08 kg (20 lbs.), for the larger device, but could be between 2.26 kg and 18.2 kg (5-40 lbs.) depending on need and intended use. For use in yoga and strength training as well as massage therapy the optimal weight is envisioned to be between 6.81 kg and 9.08 kg (15-20 lbs.) for most users. For weight training and muscle strengthening the device may be more effective at a greater weight of twenty to forty pounds depending on strength, goals, and size of the user.
The device as shown in FIG. 2 is constructed of woven nylon, a ripstop fabric. Advantages of ripstop are the favorable strength-to-weight ratio and that small tears can not easily spread. Fabrics used to make ripstop may include cotton, silk, polyester, and polypropylene, with nylon content limited to the crosshatched threads that make it tear-resistant.
The device has been constructed in a rectangular shape but it is envisioned that it may be produced in a square, circular or oval shape depending on its use.
The advantages of the present invention include, uniform distribution of the weighted material and flexibility to aid in strengthening and stretching the body in different ways due to the weight, size, and foldable design of the device. In this first embodiment, the present invention is a weighted device designed to assist its users in achieving optimal stretches and improve muscle strength as in yoga, stretching regimens and strength training and overall health when used in massage therapy settings.
A second embodiment of the present invention is a method for its use. The present weighted device may be used during stretching and exercise. In general the weighted device of the present invention can be used alone or with a second or third weighted device. These devices can be placed on opposing sides of the body to assist in holding stretches or a single or multiple devices placed on a body portion to anchor it such that a second body portion may be stretched. Further the weighted device may be used on or held by a body portion and raised and lowered to increase muscle tone and strength.
A specific example of how one might use the weighted device in stretching is presented here in FIG. 3, as in for a supta matsyendrasana or a reclining supine spinal twist as is shown. First, a person would lie on their back with arms lying aligned on their sides. Next, bring the right knee to the chest and drop right knee over across your body to the left side. Then, drape a first weighted device  over the right thigh and open the right arm out to the right side and place a second weight device  on the right shoulder. The weighted devices will assist in opening up a diagonal stretch from left hip to right shoulder.
A second example for a method of using the present invention is shown in FIG. 4. Here the person is a locust pose or shalabasana. First, the person would kneel on their knees with feet behind. Second, thread a yoga strap through each of two weighted devices' loops and tie the device to the back of each of your thighs. Lie down on stomach with arms down by the side. Next, raise chest and legs and straighten arms behind the body. The added weight on the thighs will assist in strengthening the lower back and hips without adding stress to the knees.
Passive stretching can also be achieved, as indicated above, with the help of a partner and is often included in massage therapy and is known as passage stretch massage. An example of such is shown in FIG. 5. As the client inhales the therapist takes hold of the first limb, here one calf, and places it into the first tractioning position. As the client begins to exhale the therapist applies a gentle traction to the calf. As the client begins to inhale again, the therapist holds the calf or may allow for a very slight release of the limb. Placement of the device on the opposing calf exerts resistance and thereby enables a fuller abduction, or stretch that draws limbs away from the median sagittal plane of the body. The sagittal plane is a anatomical plane that runs from head to toe in a vertical line through the body, separating the left and right sides of the body. This is opposed to the coronal plane that runs head to toe horizontally, separating the front and the back, and the transverse plane which runs through the mid section of the body essentially drawing a line between the top and bottom halves of the body at the waist. On the clients next exhalation the therapist slowly and gently increases the amount of traction applied to the calf. The therapist continues with this slow and gradual increase in traction until a full stretch has been achieved. This usually consists of three to tractioning cycles depending on how relaxed the client is and on the amount of restriction they have in their muscles and joints. The stretch is then slowly released and the therapist applies the same traction at the same angle to the opposing calf or other limb. The present invention has the effect of intensifying the effect of gravity, fatiguing the contracted muscles and providing greater lengthening in a shorter time frame as opposed to a massage therapy routine without the present weighted device.
- REFERENCES CITED
While the foregoing written description of the invention enables one of ordinary skill to make and use what is considered presently to be the best mode thereof, those of ordinary skill will understand and appreciate the existence of variations, combinations, and equivalents of the specific embodiment, method, and examples herein. The invention should therefore not be limited by the above described, method, and examples, but by all embodiments and methods within the scope and spirit of the invention.
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