Title:
Pelvic floor muscles exercise device and exercise method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A compact and easy to use pelvic floor muscle exercise device and a method for using the exercise device are disclosed by which to enable users to identify, exercise and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles without requiring supervision or special equipment. The exercise device includes a block of resilient cellular foam material having a spring-like memory. The exercise device is shaped (i.e., tapered) to fit comfortably between the thighs of the user. While (preferably) sitting up, the user's pelvic floor muscles are lifted as high as possible, and the thighs are then pressed together during exhalation at which time the exercise device located therebetween is compressed. During subsequent inhalation, the pelvic floor muscles are relaxed, and the user's thighs are moved away from one another, whereby the exercise device will now expand to its original shape. The exercise device is ideally subjected to a series of compression/expansion cycles between the thighs of the user as a part of a regular exercise program by which to return the pelvic floor muscles to their proper alignment in the pelvis.



Inventors:
Bourgault, Alain M. (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/376663
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
03/16/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAKER, LORI LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of Morland C.Fischer (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
1. An exercise device for exercising the pelvic floor muscles of the human body, said exercise device comprising: a body formed from a resilient material having a spring memory, said exercise device body being sized to fit between the thighs of a user so as to be subjected to one or more cycles of compression and expansion when the user's thighs are first pressed together and then moved apart, said exercise device body having a top, a bottom, and opposite sides, each of said opposite sides being concave within which to receive respective ones of the user's thighs to enable said exercise device to be held in place during an exercise.

2. The exercise device recited in claim 1, wherein said resilient exercise device body is a block of cellular foam material.

3. The exercise device recited in claim 1, wherein said resilient exercise device body is tapered outwardly from the top to the bottom such that said top thereof is narrower than said bottom.

4. The exercise device recited in claim 1, wherein the top of said exercise device body is flat so as to be received adjacent the crotch of the user when said exercise device body is located between the user's thighs.

5. A method for exercising and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles of the human body, said method comprising the steps of: locating an exercise device having a resilient body and a spring memory between the thighs of a user; lifting the pelvic floor muscles; subjecting the resilient exercise device body to a compression followed by an expansion by the user's thighs being first pressed together and then moved apart; and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles during the expansion of the exercise device.

6. The method recited in claim 5, including the additional step of the user exhaling at the same time that the pelvic floor muscles are lifted and the resilient body of said exercise device is being compressed between the thighs of the user.

7. The method recited in claim 6, including the additional step of the user inhaling at the same time that the pelvic floor muscles are relaxed and the thighs of the user are moved apart by which to permit the resilient body of said exercise device to expand.

8. The method recited in claim 5, including the additional step of the user sitting up when said exercise device is located between the thighs of the user and the resilient body of said exercise device is subjected to said one or more cycles of compression and expansion.

9. The method recited in claim 5, wherein the resilient body of said exercise device is tapered outwardly from a top of said body to a bottom of said body, such that said top is narrower than said bottom, said method including the additional step of positioning said relatively narrow top adjacent the crotch of said user and said relatively wide bottom above the knees of said user while said resilient exercise device body is subjected to said one or more cycles of compression and expansion.

10. The method recited in claim 5, wherein the resilient body of said exercise device has concave sides lying opposite one another, said method including the additional step of the user's thighs being located against respective ones of said concave sides when said resilient exercise device body is subjected to said one or more cycles of compression and expansion.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a compressible exercise device adapted to be squeezed between the thighs of a user (e.g., a woman) during a program of regular exercise in order to restore normal muscle tone to the pelvic floor muscles that may have become weakened as a consequence of the lack of exercise, illness, childbirth or age.

2. Background Art

The technique of internal lifting to exercise the pelvic floor muscles was originally developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1948. Such Kegel exercises have been adopted as a method of controlling incontinence in women following childbirth. Accordingly, exercise devices have been developed and marketed which follow the Kegel exercise plan but which have focused primarily on women and their incontinence problems. These devices have typically been overlooked by men who may also experience urinary continence following prostate surgery. In this same regard, older and aging adults, who often face both urinary incontinence as well as fecal incontinence problems, have largely ignored such exercise devices and their benefits.

The underlying goal of Kegel exercises is to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor to thereby improve the urethral and rectal sphincter functions. The Kegel exercise technique has proven to be approximately 50%-80% effective in improving urinary continence when the exercises are properly performed over time as part of a regular exercise program.

However, some women (and men) have difficulty identifying and isolating the muscles of the pelvic floor. For the Kegel exercise technique to be effective, care must be taken to contract those muscles in need of strengthening. Without assistance, most people tend to contract their abdominal and/or thigh muscles and/or buttocks muscles rather than the pelvic floor muscles. One technique which has been adopted to help an incontinent person correctly identify her/his pelvic floor muscles is to sit on a toilet and start to urinate. The person is instructed to stop the flow of urine midstream by means of contracting the pelvic floor muscles. This action is repeated several times until the person becomes familiar with the feel of contracting this designated group of muscles. The exercise of repeatedly starting and stopping the flow of urine focuses on and calls the person's attention to contracting the pelvic floor muscles as opposed to other muscles which may not be in need of strengthening.

The common approach of controlling the flow of one's urine to heighten awareness of and permit contraction of the pelvic floor muscles is not practical for many individuals and may not be suitable at all times during the day. Therefore, what is desirable is a compact and easy to use exercise device which relies on the Kegel method and which enables both men and women to quickly identify, contract and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles at virtually any time of the day, whether at home or while traveling, and without special supervision or equipment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In general terms, a compact, easy to use exercise device and method are disclosed to enable men and women to perform pelvic floor exercises by which to strengthen and properly align (relative to the pelvis) their pelvic floor muscles and thereby improve urethral and rectal sphincter functions. The pelvic floor exercise device herein disclosed is preferably manufactured from a block of cellular foam material having a resilient characteristic and being shaped (i.e., sculpted) to fit comfortably between the thighs of the user during an exercise program. To this end, the opposite sides of the exercise device are concave so as to conform to the contour of the user's thighs and thereby facilitate holding the device in place during exercise. The exercise device has a tapered profile with the bottom of the device being wider than the top. When the exercise device is properly positioned between the thighs of the user, the narrow top end of the device is located adjacent the user's crotch while the wider bottom is located above the user's knees.

With the exercise device held in place between the thighs and the user who is (preferably) in a sitting position with her/his feet on the floor, the buttocks and abdominal muscles are initially tightened. During exhalation, the user lifts her/his pelvic floor muscles between the tailbone and the front of the pelvis as high as possible. This lifting is followed by the user pressing her/his thighs together, whereby the exercise device is compressed. While now inhaling, the user's thighs are moved apart, and the pelvic floor muscles are relaxed. This exercise of lifting the pelvic floor muscles and pressing the thighs together so as to overcome the resistance offered by the exercise device can be repeated several times during each exercise session. Moreover, the exercise may be accomplished more than once each day and while at home or traveling without requiring special supervision or equipment. Accordingly, over time, the pelvic floor muscles will likely be strengthened and returned to their proper alignment in the pelvis.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows the pelvic floor muscles exercise device of this invention positioned between the thighs of a (female) user prior to exercising;

FIG. 2 shows the user pressing her thighs together and squeezing the exercise device therebetween during a pelvic floor muscles strengthening exercise;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the pelvic floor muscle exercise device according to a preferred embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 4 is a front view of the pelvic floor muscle exercise device shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the pelvic floor muscle exercise device; and

FIG. 6 is a top view of the pelvic floor muscle exercise device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring concurrently to FIGS. 1-6 of the drawings, there is shown a compact, simple to use exercise device which, in the preferred embodiment, can be used by women to strengthen and align their pelvic floor muscles relative to the pelvis. However, while reference to a woman will be made herein and illustrated in the drawings (at FIGS. 1 and 2), it is to be understood that use of the exercise device 1 disclosed below is not to be limited to a female. In this same regard, while the exercise device 1 herein disclosed has particular benefit for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles of a user, other muscles, with which the pelvic floor interact, may also benefit following a program of regular exercise.

As is best in shown in FIGS. 3-6, the pelvic floor muscle exercise device 1 which forms the present invention is shaped to fit comfortably between the thighs of a user. The exercise device 1 is preferably manufactured from a block of cellular foam material having a resilient or spring-like characteristic. That is to say, following a compression of the exercise device 1 in response to it being squeezed between the thighs of a user, the device will automatically expand back to its original shape when the user relaxes her thighs and the compressive force that was applied when the thighs are pressed together is terminated. In this same regard, and as will be explained when referring hereinafter to FIGS. 1 and 2, the resilient foam material of exercise device 1 is subjected to a series of compression/relaxation cycles as the user repeatedly moves her thighs in opposite directions towards and away from one another with the exercise device located therebetween.

To form a comfortable fit between the user's thighs, the opposite sides 3 and 5 of exercise device 1 are shaped (i.e., sculpted) to be concave or arcuate and thereby conform to the contour of the thighs between which the device 1 will be held during a pelvic floor strengthening exercise. In this manner, the user will be better able to retain exercise device 1 between her thighs throughout the exercise.

So as to be more easily accommodated between the thighs of the user, the exercise device 1 has a tapered profile. That is, and as is best shown in FIG. 4, the front 7 and back 9 of device 1 are relatively narrow at the top thereof and relatively wide at the bottom. Thus, the exercise device 1 will taper outwardly from top to bottom. In this case, the opposing top and bottom 10 and 12 of exercise device 1 are formed as flat, parallel aligned faces. In this same regard, and as is best shown in FIG. 4, the tapered profile of exercise device 1 is similar to that of a trapezoid.

The manner by which a woman uses the exercise device 1 of this invention to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles will now be described while referring to FIGS. 1 and 2. While in a sitting (as shown) or laying position, the user positions the exercise device 1 between her legs such that her thighs are received within respective ones of the concave sides 3 and 5. The narrow top 10 of the exercise device 1 is located adjacent the user's crotch, and the wider bottom 12 extends downwardly therefrom to lie above the knees. By way of example, it is contemplated that the length (from the top to the bottom) of the pelvic floor muscle exercise device 1 will be approximately ten inches, although exercise devices having different sizes can be manufactured for use by women having different heights and leg sizes.

To lift the pelvic floor, the user must squeeze the outer muscles between the front of the pelvis and the tailbone. These thin sheets of muscle that are layered with connective tissue form a hammock and support the organs in the abdomen. The pelvic floor muscles function best when the pelvis is upright and centered for gravity.

As shown in FIG. 1, the user starts the exercise in the seated position with both feet applying equal pressure against the floor. The buttocks and lower abdominal muscles are then tightened. While exhaling for about 6 seconds, the user lifts the pelvic floor muscles as high as possible. Following this lifting, the user presses her thighs together against the opposite sides 3 and 5 of the pelvic floor muscles exercise device 1, whereby the pelvic floor muscles are raised and contracted and the exercise device 1 is compressed in the manner shown in FIG. 2. Depending upon its density, the exercise device offers the user a resistance which must be overcome when her thighs are moved together.

Following exhalation, the tightened pelvic floor muscles are relaxed, and the user's thighs are moved away from one another as a breath of air is inhaled. The cycle of lifting the pelvic floor muscles followed by moving the thighs together and apart, during which the exercise device 1 will first be squeezed and then permitted to expand between the thighs of the user, can be repeated several times during each workout at different times of the day such as, for example, after waking up, at midday, and before bed. Moreover, it may be appreciated that the exercise device 1 may be used by any individual whether at home or while traveling and without supervision or special equipment.

By virtue of the present invention, a user will be better able to focus her/his attention and workout on contracting the pelvic floor muscles rather than the abdominal, thigh or buttock muscles. As the user's pelvic floor muscles are strengthened over time and returned to their proper alignment in the pelvis, other muscles with which the pelvic floor interact will be correspondingly balanced. Accordingly, a regular exercise program using the exercise device herein disclosed can improve some or all of the user's body posture, bladder and rectal controls, stomach tone, and, in some cases, heighten sexual sensation.





 
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