Title:
Swiveling exercise strap for stretching
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exercise device is disclosed for enabling various stretching exercises comprising an adjustable loop connected to a handle element by a swivel connector. The adjustable loop can be placed about a foot, ankle, or other body part, and the handle grasped in one hand. The swivel connector allows a user to stretch in multiple positions and postures without readjusting the exercise device. In a preferred embodiment, the handle comprises either a handle loop sized to accommodate a user's finger, fingers, or hand, or a series of loops to allow the user to gradually increase the tension in the stretch by grasping successive loops in the series. Alternatively, the handle can comprise a hand support member that allows the user to easily and firmly grasp the handle and apply a steady tension. In addition, the handle can comprise an adjustable loop to facilitate various lengths of stretching and levels of difficulty.



Inventors:
Shen, Charles (Redondo Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/154378
Publication Date:
04/21/2005
Filing Date:
05/23/2002
Assignee:
SHEN CHARLES
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B21/002; A63B23/00; (IPC1-7): A63B21/002
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RICHMAN, GLENN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)
Claims:
1. 1-3. (canceled)

4. An exercise strap comprising: a first loop for accepting a body part and adjustable to varying circumferential lengths with a fastening mechanism to set a desired circumferential length of said loop; a handle having at least one loop that permits the handle to be pulled by one or more fingers or a hand; a rotational connector disposed between the handle and the first loop, the rotational connector further providing free rotational movement between the handle and the first loop without a presence of a restoring counter-rotational force; and wherein the handle comprises a series of loops in a chain, each loop sized to accommodate one or more fingers or a hand, wherein a user can shorten a distance between a location held by the user and the first loop by pulling on successive loops in the chain.

5. 5-9. (canceled)

10. An exercise strap comprising: an adjustable enclosure of varying circumference securable about a human foot; a handle defined by a plurality of closed loops connected in a chain, where each loop corresponds to a different distance separating said loop from the adjustable enclosure along said exercise strap; and a rotational connector disposed between the handle and the adjustable enclosure, the rotational connector permitting free rotation of the handle relative to the adjustable enclosure without a restoring counter-rotational force.

11. The exercise strap of claim 10 wherein the closed loops of the handle are sized to accommodate one or more fingers or a hand.

12. An exercise strap comprising: an enclosure securable about a human foot; a handle defined by a plurality of closed loops connected end-to-end and each loop sized to receive one or more fingers or a hand therein, where each loop corresponds to a different distance separating said loop from the enclosure along said handle; and a rotational connector disposed between the handle and the enclosure, the rotational connector permitting free rotation of the handle relative to the enclosure without a restoring counter-rotational force.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of exercise devices and more particularly to a novel exercise strap for performing stretching exercises that includes a swivel connection to a handle portion allowing the user to achieve a deeper stretch with a fluid motion while preventing slippage.

2. Description of Related Art

The public's awareness regarding the importance of stretching muscles has increased in recent years. At one time, a towel was the tool of choice to effect a good stretch, with the user grasping both ends of the towel after placing the towel around one or both feet. By pulling on the towel's ends, the user could stretch desired muscles including the leg, back, and shoulder muscles. A towel, however, can slip from the user's grip, usually requires the use of two hands, and does not provide much in the way of security as to the positioning of the towel across the user's foot. Subsequently, cotton or fabric straps were used each having loose ends that are sometimes grasped by both hands of the user, one end in each hand. Others have loops at the ends or a buckle to form an adjustable loop. The straps are held by the user while in a variety of postures in order to stretch a variety of body muscle groups. While providing more versatility that a towel, the cloth or fabric straps have had some difficulties and problems associated with their use, such as slippage from perspiration and oils that are secreted from the hands that can lead to slippage. Moreover, in order to accommodate different postures and positions, the user must reposition himself and readjust the bands to maintain the stretch. Therefore, a long-standing need has existed to provide an exercise strap that will permit the user to gain a deeper stretch while in a variety of postures, is not prone to slippage, and can be employed by the user with one hand.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a swiveling exercise strap for stretching including a first loop for receiving a body part such as a foot, ankle, and so forth, and a second handle loop serving as a handle element to be easily grasped and pulled with one hand. The first and second loops are preferably joined by a rotating connection that allows the two loops to swivel with respect to each other. In a preferred embodiment, the second loop, or handle loop, is sized to receive one or more fingers therein although in another preferred embodiment the second loop can be large enough to accommodate an entire hand. The first and second loops can also be adjustable. In still another preferred embodiment, the handle element comprises a series of loops connected in a chain to allow the user to gradually increase the stretch by incrementally pulling on successive or different loops in the chain to gradually shorten the distance between the application of the tension force and the first loop. In addition, the multiple handle loops permit the user to vary the lengths of the handle portion without adjusting the handle loop.

To achieve the swivel operation of the present invention, a rotating swivel that permits endless rotation couples the two loops. The swivel has the advantage of eliminating a restoring force when twisted such as one might experience if the two loops were joined by a linking member such as a strap or cable, and also maintains a uniform distance between the two loops as a relative rotation is experienced. The swivel also provides fluid motion and permits the user to shift stretches without removing the first loop, such as stretches that apply pressure on the bottom of the foot to stretches that apply pressure to the top of the foot or to the side of the foot. The swivel can also comprise a swivel hook that permits the easy and rapid exchange of handle loops of various lengths.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The exact nature of this invention, as well as its objects and advantages, will become readily apparent upon reference to the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the figures thereof, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an elevated perspective view of a first preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an elevated perspective view of the first preferred embodiment of the present invention with a second, larger adjustable loop;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a user illustrating a use of the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1 and applying force to the bottom of the user's foot;

FIG. 5 is a side view of a user illustrating a first preferred embodiment of the present invention applying force through the present invention to the top of the user's foot;

FIG. 6 is an elevated perspective view of a second preferred embodiment of the present invention with multiple handle loops; and

FIG. 7 is an elevated perspective view of a third preferred embodiment of the present invention with a hand support member.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description is provided to enable a person skilled in the art to make and use the invention and sets forth the best modes contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention. Various modifications, however, will remain readily apparent to those skilled in the art, since the general principles of the present invention have been defined herein specifically to provide an exercise strap for stretching wherein a handle element swivels with respect to an adjustable loop element to allow continuous stretch capability in multiple postures without the need to readjust the exercise strap.

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate a first preferred embodiment 100 of the present invention. The exercise device of FIG. 1 comprises a handle 110 connected to an adjustable loop 120 by a swiveling connector 130. In this embodiment, the handle 110 comprises a single handle loop made of a polypropylene web type material of approximately four inches in length, and stitched into an endless loop. At four inches in circumferential length, the loop can accommodate a finger or two but not an entire hand. In a preferred embodiment, the loop is made of a non-elastic material so as to provide a constant tension in the device as the handle is pulled.

The handle 110 preferably passes through a swiveling connector 130 known as a J-hook. The J-hook has a rectangular eyelet 140 that permits the handle to pass through, and provides a bar 150 or roller that transfers the tension in the handle 110 to the connector 130. The swiveling connector 130 further preferably includes a J-shaped hook 170 with a resilient closing latch 180 that allows the connector to be opened and closed by pressing on the resilient closing latch 180.

When a closed ring such as a circular ring 160 or a D-shaped ring is inserted into the J-shaped hook 170, and the J-shaped hook 170 and the closed ring 160 are placed in tension, the connection reliably joins the two components. This arrangement is convenient because it provides a quick release by pressing the resilient closing latch 180 to open the J-shaped hook 170 whereupon the J-shaped hook and the handle 110 can be easily removed and replaced with a different length handle and its J-shaped hook. The closed ring 160 can be secured to the adjustable loop 120 by looping the strap that forms the adjustable loop 120 over upon itself and stitching the mating surfaces together. This connection forms the loop 190 that traps and secures the closed ring 160. A second connection loop 200 can be formed in a like manner to retain a ring buckle 210 on the end of the strap. The ring buckle 210 is used to receive the terminating end 220 of the strap 230 where the end 220 is folded over upon itself at wider mid portion 240 so that the two complimentary components of a hook and loop fastening material such as Velcro® 260 and 270 disposed on the end 220 and the mid portion 240 cooperate to secure the strap at a given length. The free end 220 of the strap 230 is fed through and between the rings of the retaining ring buckle 210 so that the fastening components can be connected together in a non-slip fashion. Adjustments can be made about the foot of the user by adjusting the length of the terminating end 220 of the strap 230 that forms the closure.

Referring to FIG. 3, in another preferred embodiment the handle 110 is made adjustable by utilizing similar structure to that shown with respect to the adjustable loop 120. That is, the handle loop 111 is adjustable when one end 201 of the handle strap 231 is fed through a rectangular eyelet 150, folded upon itself to retain ring buckle 211. The other end 221 of the handle strap 231 is fed through the ring buckle 211 and secured into an adjustable loop. Other fastening devices such as a cinch buckle can work as well, and hook and loop fastening material can be placed on the strap 231 at 241 and the mating surface to further secure the strap. The handle loop can also include hook and loop fastening material on adjacent surfaces. This embodiment allows the user's hand to grip the loop handle, and to have the ability to adjust the size of the loop length for various stretches and levels of difficulty.

Referring to FIG. 4, an example of a posture and stretching exercise is illustrated using two of the first preferred embodiments of the present invention. It can be seen that the handle 110 is attached to the swiveling connector 130 and the user's finger or fingers are passed through the handle 110 placing the strap in tension. Since the swiveling connector 130 interconnects the adjustable loop 120, force applied at the handle 110 will be transmitted to the adjustable loop 120, applying pressure to the bottom of a user's feet.

Referring to FIG. 5, the loop 120 is shown applying pressure to the top of a user's foot. FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate two additional preferred embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 6 illustrates a handle having multiple loops, each sized to receive a finger, or fingers, arranged serially in the configuration of a chain. Using this embodiment, a user can begin stretching with the furthest loop 300 and gradually increase by grasping adjacent loops 310, 320, 330 as the stretches progresses. In this manner, the series of loops permit the user to incrementally increase the stretching tension or shorten the distance without deviating from the original position. In FIG. 7, the handle includes a hand support member such as a cylindrical tube 400 that can comprise a rigid structure or a flexible plastic tubing, on a strap 410 that allows the user to grasp the roller and pull the adjustable loop 120. When a user pulls on the hand support 400, the tensile force is distributed between ends 420 of the hand support and applied therefrom to the swivel connector and to the adjustable loop 120. For a more comfortable grip, the hand support 400 can be fitted with a foam exterior that absorbs perspiration and is soft to the touch. Moreover, the strap 410 can be adjustable to permit various stretches and levels of difficulty.

In view of the foregoing, the inventive strap aides an exercising practitioner, particularly in the field of yoga, to achieve a deeper stretch in a variety of physical postures with fluid motion. The functions or purposes of the invention reside in assisting the practitioner or exerciser to achieve a deeper stretch, avoiding slippage when the user perspires due to oils that secrete within the glands of hands and feet, and permitting the easy shifting of stretching positions and the easy substitution of different lengths of the loops. By employing the swivel connector, slippage is prevented by gripping the handle and applying tension to the device while the adjustable loop carries the tension to the foot, arm, or other applied area. The swivel connector also facilitates shifting to different stretches without removing or adjusting the foot loop. Unlike conventional stretching bands or straps that require two hands, the present invention not only requires only a single hand but with the swivel connector the user doesn't constantly need to readjust the strap for different postures. Further, the swivel connector maintains a constant distance throughout the range of rotation of the connector. That is, unlike ropes, bands, and straps, the swivel connector does not shorten as it twists but rather a constant distance between loops is maintained.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just-described preferred embodiment can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.