Title:
Grip assist apparatus with palm arch support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A grip assist apparatus that may be worn on either hand that includes a symmetrical non-slip gripping portion that includes a substantially stiff palm arch support, a wrist portion, and a releasable wrist fastener.



Inventors:
Parker, Michael S. (Sorrento, ME, US)
Application Number:
12/660856
Publication Date:
09/08/2011
Filing Date:
03/05/2010
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/162
International Classes:
A41D19/00; A63B71/14
View Patent Images:
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Other References:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/409071/neoprene-CR, last visited 7/25/2013
Primary Examiner:
FISCHER, RAE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lawson & Persson, P.C (P.O. Box 712 Laconia NH 03247-0712)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A grip assist apparatus for weight lifting, wherein said grip assist apparatus is wearable on either hand, said grip assist apparatus comprising: a symmetrical non-slip gripping portion comprising: a finger end; an end piece at said finger end of said gripping portion; a flexible area adjacent to said end piece; a substantially stiff palm arch support adjacent to said flexible area; and a first wrist attachment end and a second wrist attachment end, wherein each of said first wrist attachment end and said second wrist attachment end is adjacent to said palm arch support; a wrist portion comprising a first strap and a second strap, wherein each of said first strap and said second strap comprises an attachment end and a free end and wherein said attachment end of said first strap being attached to said first wrist attachment of said gripping portion, and said attachment end of said second strap being attached to said second wrist attachment of said gripping portion; and a releasable wrist fastener attached to said first and second straps, said wrist fastener being dimensioned and shaped to fasten said first strap to said second strap such that said grip assist apparatus is secured around the wrist of the user.

2. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of said first wrist attachment end and said second wrist attachment end of said gripping portion is angled such that when said first strap and said second strap of said wrist portion are secured about the wrist of the user via said fastening means, said first and second straps and said gripping portion form a funnel-shaped enclosure around the wrist and base of the hand, said enclosure having an opening that is larger at a distal end than at a proximal end.

3. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first strap and said second strap of said wrist portion are each substantially rectangular in shape.

4. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein said gripping portion is a unitary gripping portion formed from a single material.

5. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein said wrist fastener comprises: a first section having a ring at one end, said first section being attached to said first strap; and a second section attached to said second strap; wherein said grip assist apparatus may be fastened to the wrist by inserting said second section through said ring of said first section.

6. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 5, wherein said second section comprises a first length of hook-type fastener and a second length of corresponding loop-type fastener, such that said grip assist apparatus may be secured to the wrist when said second section is inserted through said ring of said first section by locking said first length of hook-type fastener to said second length of loop-type fastener.

7. A grip assist apparatus for weight lifting comprising: a symmetrical non-slip gripping portion, dimensioned to cover a palm of a human hand from at least one finger to below a wrist joint such that movement of a thumb is not impeded, and wherein said gripping portion has a rigidity such that said gripping portion is self-supporting and will remain extended in front of the palm and of the fingers to allow said gripping portion to be manipulated by the human hand on which said grip assist apparatus is worn, and wherein said gripping portion is sufficiently flexible to allow said gripping portion to be easily wrapped around a lifting bar using only the tip of said at least one finger of the human hand on which said grip assist apparatus is worn; a wrist portion attached to said gripping portion; and a releasable fastener attached to said wrist portion.

8. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein said wrist portion comprises a first strap and a second strap, each of said first strap and said second strap having an attachment end and a free end, the attachment end of said first strap being attached to said first wrist attachment end of said gripping portion, the attachment end of said second strap being attached to said second wrist attachment end of said gripping portion, and wherein said releasable fastener is attached to said first and second straps.

9. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein each of said first wrist attachment end and said second wrist attachment end of said gripping portion is angled such that when said first strap and said second strap of said wrist portion are secured about the wrist of the user via said fastener, said first and second straps and said gripping portion form a funnel shaped enclosure around the wrist and base of the hand, having an opening that is larger at the distal end than at the proximal end.

10. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein said gripping portion is a unitary gripping portion formed from a single material.

11. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein said gripping portion further comprises a finger end and an end piece at said finger end of said gripping portion.

12. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein said gripping portion is formed of a non-slip material.

13. A grip assist apparatus for weight lifting, said grip assist apparatus comprising: a non-slip gripping portion comprising: a finger end; a flexible area adjacent to said end piece; a substantially stiff palm arch support adjacent to said flexible area; and a first wrist attachment end and a second wrist attachment end, wherein each of said first wrist attachment end and said second wrist attachment end is adjacent to said palm arch support; a wrist portion comprising a first strap and a second strap, wherein each of said first strap and said second strap comprises an attachment end and a free end and wherein said attachment end of said first strap being attached to said first wrist attachment of said gripping portion, and said attachment end of said second strap being attached to said second wrist attachment of said gripping portion; and a releasable wrist fastener attached to said first and second straps, said wrist fastener being dimensioned and shaped to fasten said first strap to said second such that said grip assist apparatus is secured around the wrist of the user.

14. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein each of said first wrist attachment end and said second wrist attachment end of said gripping portion is angled such that when said first strap and said second strap of said wrist portion are secured about the wrist of the user via said fastening means, said first and second straps and said gripping portion form a funnel-shaped enclosure around the wrist and base of the hand, said enclosure having an opening that is larger at a distal end than at a proximal end.

15. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein said first strap and said second strap of said wrist portion are each substantially rectangular in shape.

16. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein said gripping portion is a unitary gripping portion formed from a single material 17. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein said gripping portion is formed of a non-slip material.

17. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein said wrist fastener comprises: a first section having a ring at one end, said first section being attached to said first strap; and a second section attached to said second strap; wherein said grip assist apparatus may be fastened to the wrist by inserting said second section through said ring of said first section.

18. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 18, wherein said second section comprises a first length of hook-type fastener and a second length of corresponding loop-type fastener, such that said grip assist apparatus may be secured to the wrist when said second section is inserted through said ring of said first section by locking said first length of hook-type fastener to said second length of loop-type fastener.

19. The grip assist apparatus as claimed in claim 13 further comprising an end piece at said finger end of said gripping portion.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of strength training and weight lifting and, in particular, to grip assist apparatus for use therein.

BACKGROUND

Strength training has become a widely practiced activity for both men and women. In addition to being a sport in and of itself, strength training is also utilized as a conditioning and strengthening exercise for other sports, such as football, basketball, and baseball. Furthermore, athletes who rely on agility, such as tennis players, also benefit from strength training.

In sports, protective equipment is utilized to prevent injury to the participant. With respect to strength training, protective equipment is also needed, as all the joints of the body may be subjected to extreme forces. In particular, the wrist joint is subjected to these extreme forces any time the trainee's hands utilize a weight bar during the course of strength training.

It is also important to protect the palm during weight lifting. This is particularly true during weight lifting exercises when the weight lifter is pushing the weights away from his body, such as with the bench press. FIG. 1 is a skeletal depiction of the hand. The cross hashed bones form the metacarpus consisting of the first 86, second 84, third 82, fourth 80, and fifth 78 metacarpals. The shaded portion near the wrist is the carpus 92. Lines 90, 88 show the rough dimensions of the deep and superficial palmar arches, respectively. The palm of the hand is formed skeletally by the metacarpus consisting of metacarpal bones 78-86. The metacarpus is the intermediate part of the hand skeleton located between phalanges, or bones of the fingers, and the carpus 92 which forms the connection to the forearm. The metacarpals form a transverse arch to which the rigid row of distal carpal bones are fixed. The peripheral metacarpals—those of the thumb 86 and little finger 78—form the sides of the cup of the palmar gutter as they are brought together, they deepen this concavity. The shape of the palm over these bones is formed primarily by the radial and ulnar arteries forming the deep 90 and superficial 88 palmar arches. The superficial palmar arch 88 reaches its apex at about the middle of the metacarpus, while the deep palmar arch 90 reaches its apex about one quarter of the way between the carpus 92 and phalanges, over the metacarpus. The ulnar nerve in particular, as well as the radial and median nerves are affected by pressure to the palm. Exercises that put a large amount of pressure on these nerves leave the weight lifter susceptible to injury and syndromes, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and Guyon's canal syndrome.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,813,950 discloses a grip assist apparatus designed to strengthen the weight lifter's grip and prevent a strength training injury by providing support to the wrist and hand. Although the invention of this patent is successful as a grip assist apparatus, it lacks sufficient palm support. Moreover, it is designed such that the grip assists are hand specific, which requires the user to determine which grip is to be affixed to which hand and prevents a pair of grips from being used by two people who wish to use them on the same hand.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,771,901 discloses an arch support for a hand that is a plate made to conform to the palm of the hand and has support edges. Although capable of supporting the palm, the invention of this patent does not protect any other part of the hand or wrist that may be affected during strength training, nor does it provide any grip assistance as is preferable during strength training. Moreover, it is hand specific, so one must be purchased for each hand.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,374,439 discloses a bowler's wrist support that includes a flexible body adapted to be wrapped around the hand and wrist straps to hold it in position and a pocket within which fits a pad which is positioned at the palm of the hand. The pad is to fill the space between the palm of the hand and the surface of the ball to provide better contact with the ball to lead to better control. The pad is of foam plastic material which possesses some resilience. The pad is shaped so as to have two relatively straight edges meeting at a rounded corner where the pad is the thickest. This part of the pad fits at the base of the heel of the hand. An arcuate edge of the pad, where it has tapered to its minimum dimension, extends from the end of one of the straight edges and is positioned just below the base of the fingers on the palm of the hand when the wrist support is in use. From the other end of the arcuate edge is a short straight edge that is adjacent the side of the hand, which connects to another straight edge which extends near the base of the thumb. Although capable of aiding in bowling, this invention is ill-suited to provide palm support for weightlifting purposes. Specifically, the pad's flexible nature will adjust with changes in pressure, making changes in grip on a bar difficult. Moreover, as it is contoured to the palm, it is hand specific. In bowling, where most bowlers use only one hand, this is not a problem, but in weightlifting, this would require that the user again determine which grip is used on which hand and prevents a pair from being used by two people.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,546,495 discloses a weightlifting glove apparatus that includes a tapered wedge extending from the heel of the hand inwardly toward the inside palm for use in weightlifting when presses are used. The wedge of this invention is somewhat flexible so that it will curve or bend with the hand as the hand grasps the bar. The wedge includes a generally flat base which extends from the heel of the hand upwardly toward the palm. Extending between opposite ends of the base there is a rounded edge which defines the outer periphery of the wedge. The top or upper portion of the wedge is a generally smoothly continuous concave area. There is a smoothly continuous tapering convex bottom to the wedge which extends from the base outwardly toward a distal end. The distal end is remote from the base. The thickness of the wedge varies from a maximum at the base to a minimum at the distal end. The concave top and the convex bottom are somewhat parallel to each other, although there is a tapering toward each other from the base to the distal end, and both the concave top and the convex bottom taper towards the distal end. Although the wedge of this patent is directed toward weightlifting, it still has drawbacks. Specifically, its flexible nature will adjust with changes in pressure, making changes in grip on a bar difficult. Moreover, as it covers a relatively large area of the hand, and is contoured to the hand, it is hand specific, so one must be purchased for each hand.

There is prior art for devices of the hand that may be worn on either hand. U.S. Pat. No. 6,102,880, for example, discloses a lightweight wrist brace that has a flexible base which extends along the palm and receives a stiffening member within a pocket and is capable of being, worn on either a right or a left hand. Although useful for some purposes, this wrist brace would be ill-suited for use in weightlifting. Specifically, it is designed to restrain the movement of the wrist, and the ability to use a full range of wrist motion during weight lifting is preferable. Moreover, it protects only a very small portion of the hand, leaving many areas of the hand that may be affected by weight lifting exposed. Also, as it includes two hand straps that wrap around the hand and are connected to each other across the dorsal area of the hand, it may unduly restrict a gripping motion of the hand, whereas an unfettered grip is extremely important in weightlifting.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,620,399 discloses a gripping sleeve for tightly gripping an object by hand. The gripping sleeve is formed of a plate formed of a tightly gripping or clinging material, the plate being connected to a wrist band by a connecting web. The gripping sleeve can be put on a user's wrist with the wrist band, so that the plate lies in the palm of his or her hand. The plate is, preferably, in the shape of a circle. Although capable of providing grip assistance and to be worn on either hand, this invention has its disadvantages. It provides no additional palm support beyond the plate itself. Only the narrow web covers the base of the hand, leaving much of the base of the hand exposed and prone to irritation and/or injury.

Therefore there is a need for a grip assistance apparatus that may be worn on either hand; that includes a rigid palm arch support; that adequately protects the parts of the hand that are affected during weightlifting; and that does not unduly restrict the hand's gripping motion.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The preferred embodiment of the present invention is a grip assist apparatus that may be worn on either hand that includes a symmetrical non-slip gripping portion, a wrist portion, and a releasable wrist fastener.

The non-slip gripping portion will protect the hand during activities such as weight lifting. In the preferred embodiment, the non-slip aspect is provided by the material out of which it is made. The preferred material has a tacky, sticky surface to allow the gripping portion to adhere to the palm of the user's hand and/or the bar to be gripped during use. In stitched embodiments of the apparatus, this material is preferably chlorobutyl rubber, but may also be neoprene, leather, or other materials commonly used in the art of stitched gripping apparatuses. In one embodiment, the material is a moldable material, such as urethane, molded rubber or others, that is molded into the shape of at least the non-slip gripping portion. In other embodiments, such as those used in water skiing or other situations in which the apparatus is likely to get wet, the gripping portion may be manufactured from a material, such as reinforced fabric, that will provide better gripping when wet than the preferred materials enumerated above. Regardless of the material or method of manufacture, the non-slip gripping portion includes a finger end, a flexible area, a stiff palm arch support, and two wrist attachment ends. In some embodiments, it also includes a separate end piece disposed within the finger end.

The symmetry of the preferred grip assist apparatus' makes it wearable on either hand, as both sides are slightly narrowed to accommodate a thumb. This versatility makes the present invention applicable to occupations beyond weightlifting. Baggage handlers, for example, may predominantly use one hand at a time, but alternate which hand is predominant so as not to overly fatigue one or the other. Such a baggage handler may have a need to protect one hand at a time, so it is useful to have one grip assist apparatus that may be switched from hand to hand as needed, rather than having to keep track of two hand-specific grip assist apparatuses and switching between them, or having only one hand-specific grip apparatus necessitating that he always use the same hand as his predominant hand. This versatility is also useful in any other such application where stress may be put on one hand at a time and a good grip is necessary, such as package delivery, moving, and construction. A grip assist apparatus that may be worn on either hand, such as that of the present invention, is also useful in weight lifting for exercises, such as those with dumb bells, where typically only one hand is used at a time but both hands are worked.

The finger end of the gripping portion is the end of the gripping portion that will cover and protect the fingers of the user of the grip assist apparatus when the apparatus is in use.

The end piece is an extra support disposed within, or molded integral to, the gripping portion at the finger end of the gripping portion. The end piece is preferably stiff, but flexible, and is preferably rectangular. During use in weightlifting, the end piece may act in a similar manner as a wheel chock used on vehicle wheels to prevent the bar from rolling out of the user's grasp. The end piece preferably extends the width of the gripping portion proximate to the finger end.

The flexible area is a part of the gripping portion between the end piece and the palm arch support. The flexible area preferably consists of only the two layers of the gripping portion, and no additional supports. However, the flexible area may include other layers. Further, in embodiments of the apparatus that are molded, this flexible area is unitary in design and has a thinner cross section that allows it to flex. When in use, the flexible area will protect the joints of the fingers while still allowing those joints to curl strongly around the bar.

The stiff palm arch support is an extra support disposed within the gripping portion and positioned adjacent to the flexible area. The palm arch support will protect the palm of the user's hand when the grip assist apparatus is in use. Although flexible to allow for a secure grip, the palm arch support is substantially stiff. It is neither soft nor cushioned, and conforms to neither the user's palm nor the item the user grips. This is so that if the user wishes to adjust his grip, the palm arch support is not conformed to the grip of the prior position. The palm arch support aids in the even distribution of pressure across the palm during weight lifting. As such, it is particularly applicable for use with exercises where the user is pushing the weights away from his body, such as with the bench press.

The wrist attachment ends are positioned adjacent to the palm arch support. These are areas of the gripping portion that will protect the cushions at the base of the user's hand when the grip assist apparatus is in use. The wrist portion of the grip assist apparatus may be attached to the gripping portion at the wrist attachment ends.

The gripping portion is dimensioned to cover a human palm from the fingers to below the wrist joint, without impeding the thumb. The gripping portion is substantially rigid such that it is self-supporting and will remain extended in front of the palm and fingers to allow itself to be manipulated by the user's hand. Although rigid, the gripping portion is sufficiently flexible to allow itself to be easily wrapped around a lifting bar using only the tips of the fingers of the hand on which the grip assist apparatus of the present invention is worn.

The grip assist apparatus of the present invention also includes a wrist portion. The wrist portion is attached to the gripping portion and wraps around the user's wrist. The wrist portion includes two preferably substantially rectangular straps, each of which has an attachment end and a free end. The straps preferably include a cushioned pad that is comfortable against the user's skin when the straps are tightened against the wrist and base of the hand. The attachment ends of each strap are attached to the wrist attachment ends of the gripping portion.

In the preferred embodiment of the grip assist apparatus of the present invention, the wrist attachment ends of the gripping portion are angled such that when the straps of the wrist portion are secured about the user's wrist, the straps and the gripping portion form a funnel-like enclosure around the user's wrist and base of hand. The funnel-like enclosure has an opening larger at the distal end than at the proximal end. Thus, the narrowest part of the funnel-like enclosure is at the wrist and the widest part is at the base of the hand. This reduces chafing of the user's hand during use.

The grip assist apparatus of the present invention also includes a releasable wrist fastener for securely fastening the straps of the wrist portion to one another. The wrist fastener is attached to the straps. In the preferred embodiment the wrist fastener is made up of two sections. The first section is a ring on one free end of a strap. The second section is attached to the other strap so that the grip assist apparatus may be fastened to the user's wrist by inserting the second section through the ring. The second section preferably includes a first length of hook-type fastener and second length of corresponding loop-type fastener, such that the grip assist apparatus may be secured to the user's wrist when the second section is inserted through the ring of the first section by locking the first length of hook-type fastener to the second length of loop-type fastener. Although this is presented as the preferred embodiment of the wrist fastener, it is understood that any means commonly used in the art that would securely and releasably fasten the straps of the wrist portion together in order to secure the grip assist apparatus to the user's wrist and hand may be substituted.

These aspects of the present invention are not meant to be exclusive and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art when read in conjunction with the following description and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a skeletal depiction of a human hand.

FIG. 2 is a front perspective of the grip assist apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 3A is a front perspective of the grip assist apparatus of the present invention on a left human hand.

FIG. 3B is a front perspective of the grip assist apparatus of the present invention on a right human hand.

FIG. 4A is depiction of a left human hand with the grip portion of the preferred stitched grip assist apparatus of the present invention superimposed over it showing lines A and B.

FIG. 4B is a cross section of a left human hand across line A of FIG. 4A showing the preferred stitched grip assist apparatus.

FIG. 4C is a cross section of a left human hand across line B of FIG. 4A showing the preferred stitched grip assist apparatus. FIG. 5A is a cross section of a left human hand across line A of FIG. 4A showing a molded embodiment of the grip assist apparatus.

FIG. 5B is a cross section of a left human hand across line B of FIG. 4A showing a molded embodiment of the grip assist apparatus.

FIG. 6 is an isometric view illustrating the funnel-like opening of the grip assist apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 7A is a side cutaway view of a human hand gripping a bar using the grip assist apparatus of the present invention curling away from the user's hand.

FIG. 7B is a side cutaway view of a human hand gripping a bar using the grip assist apparatus of the present invention curling toward the user's hand.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring first to FIG. 2, the preferred grip assist apparatus 10 of the present invention is depicted. The preferred grip assist apparatus 10 includes gripping portion 12, wrist portion 28, and wrist fastener 36.

Gripping portion 12 is preferably made of a non-slip material 40, such as chlorobutyl rubber, which provides a tacky, sticky surface to allow gripping portion 12 to adhere to the palm of the user's hand instead of sliding around while in use. Gripping portion 12 is preferably formed by adhering two layers 72, 74 (see FIGS. 4B and 4C) of appropriately sized and shaped non-slip material 40 together, preferably by folding over one piece of non-slip material 40 and stitching the two layers 72, 74 together. However, in one embodiment, the material is a moldable material, such as urethane, molded rubber or others, that is molded into the shape of at least the non-slip gripping portion 12.

Gripping portion 12 is dimensioned to cover a human hand from the fingers to below the wrist joint, without impeding the thumb's movement. Although flexible enough to be easily wrapped around a lifting bar with only the fingers of the hand on which the grip assist apparatus 10 is worn, gripping portion 12 preferably has a rigidity so that it is self-supporting and will remain extended in front of the palm and fingers if not manipulated by the hand on which grip assist apparatus 10 is worn. In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1, gripping portion 12 includes a line of symmetry 14, indentations 16, a finger end 18, an end piece 20, a flexible area 22, a palm arch support 24, wrist attachment ends 26, and angle A. Line of symmetry 14 is not a structure that would be readily apparent by looking at the gripping but, rather, is a fictional line that runs the length of gripping portion 12. The gripping portion 12 includes indentations 16 on either side of line of symmetry 14 to accommodate the user's thumb. The symmetry of the gripping portion 12 allows the preferred grip assist apparatus 10 to be worn on either hand.

Gripping portion 12 includes finger end 18, which is the end of gripping portion 12 that covers the user's fingers. End piece 20 is disposed at finger end 18 of the preferred gripping portion 12. End piece 20 is preferrably stiff, but flexible, and is preferably rectangular. End piece 20 is disposed within gripping portion 12 by any means commonly used in the art, but preferably by holding it in place between the layers of gripping portion 12 by stitching around end piece 20 and afixing it in place using an adhesive. However, in molded embodiments of the invention, such as the embodiment of FIGS. 5A and 5B, the end piece 20 is molded integral to the gripping portion 12.

The flexible area 22 of gripping portion 12 covers the joints of the user's fingers when grip assist apparatus 10 is in use. Flexible area 22 consists of only the two layers of gripping portion 12. In a preferred embodiment, flexible area 22 includes at least one line of stitching, and preferably two lines, running between end piece 20 and palm arch support 24, which act to stiffen the flexible area 22 so that it need not be as wide as the finger end 18 of the gripping portion. However, in in molded embodiments of the invention, such as the embodiment of FIGS. 5A and 5B, the flexible area 22 is molded integral to the gripping portion 12 and has a reduced thickness from the thickness of the remainder of the gripping portion 12.

Gripping portion 12 also includes palm arch support 24, which is positioned adjacent to flexible area 22 and will protect the palm of the user's hand when grip assist apparatus 10 is in use. Palm arch support 24 is disposed within gripping portion 12 by any means commonly used in the art, but preferably by holding it in place between the layers 72, 74 of gripping portion 12 by stitching around palm arch support 24 and gluing it in place. Palm arch support 24 is flexible, yet rigid to the point that it does not bend under its own weight, and is thus self-supporting. It is neither soft nor cushioned, and conforms to neither the user's palm nor the item the user grips. This is so that if the user wishes to adjust his grip, palm arch support 24 is not conformed to the grip of the prior position.

Palm arch support 24 is preferably a modified pentagon shape that includes a straight top, two sides that substantially conform to the perimeter of the gripping portion 12 around indentations 16 and includes, and two sides angled to point toward the wrist, as shown. In other embodiments, palm arch support 24 may take different shapes. Palm arch support 24 is preferably made of hard rubber but may also be made of flexible plastic, or other materials that are substantially flexible but are able to support the arch of the palm without conforming to the arch. In molded embodiments, the palm arch support 24 is molded from the same material as the remainder of the gripping portion 12 and is formed integral thereto. In a preferred embodiment, palm arch support 24 covers both the superficial 88 and deep 90 palmar arches, extending roughly over the area formed by the third 82 and fourth 80 metacarpals and coming to a point over the carpus 92 (see FIG. 1). In other embodiments, palm arch support 24 may cover a greater or lesser area.

Gripping portion 12 also includes wrist attachment ends 26. Wrist attachment ends 26 protect the cushions at the base of the user's hand when the grip assist apparatus is in use. Wrist attachment ends 26 attach to wrist portion 28.

When grip assist apparatus 10 is in use, wrist portion 28 securably and releasably wraps around the user's wrist. Wrist portion 28 includes two straps 30. Each strap 30 has a strap attachment end 32 and a strap free end 34. Straps 30 are attached to wrist attachment ends 26 at strap attachment ends 32. Strap attachment ends 32 may be attached to wrist attachment ends 26 by any means commonly used in the art, but preferably by inserting strap attachment ends 32 between the layers of gripping portion 12 at the wrist attachment ends 26 and affixing strap attachment ends 32 there by stitching.

Straps 30 are attached to gripping portion 12 at angle A, which is preferably about 120°. Angle A may be greater or less than 120°, however, depending on the user's hand. Angle A may be customized to best fit the user's hands and to ensure a comfortable fit on either hand. Although straps 30 are not identical in the preferred embodiment, because of the symmetry of gripping portion 12, either strap 30 may be attached to either wrist attachment end 26. In the preferred embodiment, straps 30 include cushioned pads 38 for the comfort of the user. Cushioned pads 38 are preferably formed of foam rubber covered by a low friction fabric. This is preferred because the fabric covering over the foam rubber allows the strap 30 to slide over the cushioned pads 38 and prevents it from gripping onto the foam rubber.

Straps 30 also include a wrist fastener 36 to fasten wrist portion 28 about the user's wrist. Wrist fastener 36 preferably includes a first section 42 that includes a ring 44 at the strap free end 34 of one of straps 30. Wrist fastener 36 also preferably includes a second section 46 on the other strap 30, which may be inserted through ring 44 to secure wrist portion 28. Second section 46 preferably includes a first length 48 of loop-type fastener and a second length 50 of hook-type fastener so that when strap 30 on which second section 46 is disposed is inserted through ring 44, first length 48 and second length 50 may be joined and securably and releasably secured.

FIGS. 3A and 3B depict how the preferred gripping portion 12 is positioned on a human hand 68. FIGS. 3A and 3B are mirror images of one another showing that the preferred grip assist apparatus 10 may be used on either a left or right hand, respectively. In either case, thumb 55 is unimpeded. End piece 20 covers the finger tips 52 when the apparatus 10 is in use. Flexible area 22 covers the finger joints 54. Palm arch support 24 covers palm 56. Wrist attachment ends 26 cover the cushions 58 at the base of hand 68.

FIG. 4A shows the shape and components of the preferred gripping portion 12 superimposed in dotted lines over human hand 68. End piece 20 covers finger tips 52. Flexible area 22 covers finger joints 54. Palm arch support 24 covers palm 56. Wrist attachment ends 26 cover the cushions 58 at the base of the hand. FIG. 4A shows lines A and B.

A cross section of human hand 68 and gripping portion 12 across line A is depicted in FIG. 4B. This depiction shows gripping portion 12 as it would be if pressed against human hand 68, such as when in use in weight lifting. As mentioned above, were that pressure absent, gripping portion 12 would remain extended in front of the hand. Layers 72, 74 forming gripping portion 12 surround palm arch support 24, shown with cross hashes. Palm arch support 24 covers the dip in human hand 68 at the palm, providing support for that area. A cross section of human hand 68 and gripping portion 12 across line B is depicted in FIG. 4C. Again, this depiction shows gripping portion 12 as it would be if pressed against human hand 68. Palm arch support 24 extends the length of the contour of the palm and provides support for this area. As mentioned above, gripping portion 12 is preferably made of one piece folded over to form two layers 72, 74. In this depiction, we see fold 76.

Referring now to FIG. 5A, a cross section of human hand 68 and the gripping portion 12 of a molded embodiment of the apparatus 10 across line A of FIG. 4A is shown. As shown in FIG. 5A, the palm arch support 24 is formed integral to the gripping portion 12 and, as was the case with the preferred embodiment of FIG. 4B, the palm arch support 24 covers the dip in human hand 68 at the palm, providing support for that area.

A cross section of human hand 68 and gripping portion 12 across line B of FIG. 4A is depicted in FIG. 4C. Again, this depiction shows gripping portion 12 as it would be if pressed against human hand 68. Palm arch support 24 extends the length of the contour of the palm and provides support for this area. As mentioned above, gripping portion 12 is molded into a single unitary structure that includes the end piece 20 and palm arch support 24. In the molded embodiment, the flexible area 22 has a thickness T1 that is reduced from a thickness of the gripping portion 12 at the palm arch support.

Now referring to FIG. 6, because straps 30 are attached to gripping portion 12 at angle A (shown in FIG. 2), they form a funnel-like opening 60 when attached to one another. Funnel-like opening 60 serves to grab the user's wrist in order to provide a firm support during strength training. Funnel-like opening 60 has a distal end 62 positioned around the base of the user's hand and a proximal end 64 positioned around the user's wrist. As distal end 62 is larger than proximal end 64, chafing of the base of the hand is prevented. Moreover, the nature of funnel-like opening 60 prevents circulation from being restricted in the user's hand while enabling grip assist apparatus 10 to be firmly attached to the user's wrist. It is noted that positing the funnel like opening 60 about the base of the hand is preferred when the gripping apparatus is used during pulling exercises. However, when performing pushing exercises, the funnel like opening 60 is preferably positioned about the user's wrist and tightened to provide wrist support.

FIGS. 7A and 7B depict a side cutaway view of the grip assist apparatus 10 of the present invention in use. They show hand 68 with wrist portion 28 gripping bar 66 with gripping portion 12. FIGS. 7A and 7B show how the user has the option of gripping bar 66 with gripping portion 12 curling away from hand 68, or curling toward hand 68, respectively. Thus the user may customize his use of grip assist apparatus 10 to what is most comfortable for him.

Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions would be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the description should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.