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The present invention relates to protective equipment, more particularly to protective pads such as are used in contact sports. In particular, the present invention may be used as shin guards to be used in a variety of contact or semi-contact sports such as ice hockey, inline-skate hockey, lacrosse, soccer, or with any other activity which requires the shins of a player to be protected, such as motocross.
In contact sports, for example, hockey, soccer, etc., players usually wear protective pads such as shin and knee pads. These pads generally include a rigid outer shell, which can be made of several interconnected sections, and an inner padding layer attached to the outer shell by stitches, rivets, adhesive, etc. The padding layer usually lays in direct contact with the body portion protected by the pad, which can cause the body portion to become uncomfortably warm.
In some leg pads, the padding layer is attached to the outer shell such as to be spaced therefrom. This spaced attachment usually allows a force applied against the shell, for example through impact, to deform the padding layer within the cavity between the padding layer and the shell, thus dissipating the force across the area of the wearer's body aligned with the cavity and reducing the risk of injury.
However, in some instances the force applied can completely collapse the cavity, i.e. the padding layer is displaced such as to lie completely against the outer shell, thus substantially reducing this shock dissipation effect.
It is therefore an aim of the present invention to provide an improved protective pad allowing shock dissipation.
It is also an aim of the present invention to provide an improved protective pad facilitating cooling of the protected body portion.
Therefore, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a protective sports pad comprising a substantially rigid outer shell, a padding layer connected to the shell in spaced apart first locations, the padding layer having a portion thereof spaced away from an inner side of the outer shell to define a first free space therebetween, and at least one suspension member connected to at least one of the padding layer and the shell along spaced apart second locations, the suspension member being inwardly spaced away from the padding layer to define a second free space therebetween, the first and second free spaces being at least partially superimposed, the suspension member having an inner side adapted to contact a body portion of a wearer.
Also in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a protective shin pad comprising a substantially rigid outer shell having a concave inner side, the rigid outer shell having at least a first opening defined therethrough, a padding layer connected to the shell in spaced apart first locations, the padding layer having a portion thereof spaced away from the inner side of the outer shell to define a first free space therebetween, the portion having at least a second opening defined therethrough, the first and second openings being in fluid communication with the first free space, at least one suspension member connected to at least one of the padding layer and the shell along spaced apart second locations, the suspension member being inwardly spaced away from the portion of the padding layer to define a second free space therebetween, the second free space being in fluid communication with the second opening such that cooling air can flow from an environment surrounding the pad to the second free space through the first opening, first free space and second opening, the suspension member having an inner side adapted to contact a shin of a wearer.
Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, showing by way of illustration a particular embodiment of the present invention and in which:
FIG. 1 is a front view of a protective pad according to a particular embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a right side view of the protective pad of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a rear view of the protective pad of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the protective pad of FIG. 1 taken through line 4-4 in FIG. 1.
Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a protective pad 10 is shown here as a combined shin and knee protective pad, such as of the type worn to play ice-hockey. The protective pad comprises an outer shell 12 which includes a knee shell 14 and a shin shell 16 connected to one another. The connection between the knee shell 14 and the shin shell 16 may occur in a variety of ways. For example, the connection may be pinned, i.e. with one or two pins, or may be through a hinge, or in any other manner. The shin shell 16 has a longitudinal axis 18 adapted to extend along the length of the leg of the wearer, and an arcuate profile about the longitudinal axis 18 defining a convex outer side 20 and a concave inner side 22 (see FIG. 4). The knee shell 14 is cup-shaped such as to effectively protect a knee, and also has a convex outer side 24 (see FIG. 1) and a concave inner side 26 (see FIG. 3). The outer shell 12 is substantially rigid, and can be made for example of an impact resistant plastic.
The shin shell 16 may optionally includes a series of vertically spaced ribs 28 defined on each side of a vertical central ridge 30 which extends along the longitudinal axis 18, such as to reinforce the rigidity of the shin shell 16. A plurality of openings 32, 34 can be defined through the shin shell 16, the openings in the depicted embodiment including large oval openings 32 defined through the ribs 28 and small circular openings 34 defined through the central ridge 30 in at least one area thereof, the openings 32, 34 being substantially symmetrically distributed with respect to the longitudinal axis 18. The openings 32, 34 can be covered with mesh material 33 which allows air to flow therethrough. Alternate shapes, sizes and distribution for the openings 32, 34 are also possible.
Referring to FIG. 3, the protective pad 10 further includes at least one attachment means, such as an adjustable strap 35, to secure the pad 10 to the body of the wearer.
The pad 10 also comprises a shock absorbing padding layer 36. The padding layer 36 may, in one embodiment, be connected to both the shin shell 16 and the knee shell 14, such as to provide a pivot connection therebetween. Alternatively, the padding layer 36 may comprise two portions, i.e. an upper portion, connected to the knee shell 14 and a lower portion connected to the shin shell 16. The padding layer 36 extends between the outer shell 12 and the body portion of the wearer, and is connected to the shin shell 16 in two spaced apart locations, shown here as two seam lines 38 (see FIG. 3) extending along a longitudinal direction of the shell, substantially symmetrically with respect to the longitudinal axis 18. Alternatively, more than one continuous seam line may be provided on each side, or alternatively, each seam line 38 may be non continuous. A further alternative connecting means can also be used to connect the padding layer 36 to the shin shell 16, such as, for example, rivets or an adhesive.
As can be best seen in FIG. 4, the padding layer 36 has a convex outer side 40 and an opposed concave inner side 42. A first free space or cavity 44 is defined between the padding layer's outer side 40 and the shin shell's inner side 22, between the two seam lines 38. As also shown in FIG. 3, the padding layer 36 can have one or more openings 46 defined therein in communication with the first cavity 44. The openings 46 may be covered by a mesh material 33 which allows air to flow therethrough.
Referring to FIG. 3, the padding layer 36 is connected to the knee shell 14 along a plurality of spaced apart locations defined along the perimeter of a substantially oval seam line 48. Although not shown, a free space or cavity is defined between the padding layer 36 and the knee shell 14 inside the oval defined by the seam line 48, similar to the first cavity 44 defined between the padding layer 36 and the shin shell 16.
Referring to FIG. 3, the pad 10 further comprises at least one suspension member 50 which extends near the inner side 42 of the padding layer 36 substantially perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis 18. In the embodiment shown, two suspension members 50 are provided in a vertically spaced apart manner. Each suspension member 50 has opposed extremities 52 which extend through a respective hole (not shown) in the padding layer 36 to engage the shin shell 16. In the embodiment shown, the extremities 52 of the suspension members 50 extend through a respective slot 54 (see FIG. 2) defined in the shin shell 16 and are connected to the shin shell 16 by a seam line 56. Alternate means to connect each suspension member 50 on the outer shell 12 can be used, for example rivets, snaps, adhesive, etc. Alternately, the suspension members 50 can be connected to the padding layer 36 instead of the outer shell 12. Additionally, more or less suspension members 50 can be provided and the relative spacing therebetween can be varied.
As can be best seen in FIG. 4, each suspension member 50 has an outer, convex side 58 facing the inner side 42 of the padding layer 36, and an inner concave side 60 adapted to lie in contact with the body portion of the wearer, which in the embodiment shown would be the shin. A second free space or cavity 62 is defined between the padding layer's inner side 42 and the suspension member's outer side 58, at least partially superimposed with the first free space 44. The free space 62 is defined between the padding layer 36 and the suspension member 50, but also between the padding layer 36 and the body portion of the wearer which lies in contact with the suspension members 50.
In a particular embodiment, the suspension members 50 extend substantially loosely between the slots 54, i.e. the suspension members are not in a tensioned state. Alternately, the suspension members 50 can extend under tension, the outer shell being rigid enough such as not to deform, i.e. have a more pronounced curve profile, under the normal tension of the suspension members 50 when the pad is not worn by the wearer.
Optionally, the suspension member 50 can include padding. In a particular embodiment, the suspension member 50 is elastic or extendable such as to provide an improved suspension. Although not shown, the suspension member 50 can also include adjustment means to adjust the suspension member 50 to a desired fit, for example by having one extremity 52 of the suspension member 50 selectively connectable to the shin shell 16 in one of a plurality of locations.
Thus, the suspension members 50 create the free space or cavity 62 between the wearer's body and the padding layer 36, which provides for increased shock dissipation. The spaced apart suspension members 50 limit the contact of the wearer's body with the pad 10, such as to limit the heating effect produced by the pad 10. In addition, the second free space 62 is in fluid communication with the first free space 44 through the opening 46 in the padding layer 36 and thus with the outside environment at least through the openings 32, 34 in the outer shell 12, which allows for cooling air to flow easily to the wearer's body (via the first free space 44 and the second free space 62) and further minimize the heating effect of the pad 10.
Alternately, either the knee shell 14 or the shin shell 16 of the pad 10 can be omitted. Moreover, the pad 10 can be alternately shaped to cover various other body portions, such as, for example, upper and/or lower arm, chest, shoulder, etc.
The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary. Those skilled in the art will therefore appreciate that the foregoing description is illustrative only, and that various alternate configurations and modifications can be devised without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternate configurations, modifications and variances which fall within the scope of the appended claims.