US20130310227A1 - Foot strengthening device and method - Google Patents

Foot strengthening device and method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130310227A1
US20130310227A1 US13/475,709 US201213475709A US2013310227A1 US 20130310227 A1 US20130310227 A1 US 20130310227A1 US 201213475709 A US201213475709 A US 201213475709A US 2013310227 A1 US2013310227 A1 US 2013310227A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
bladder
pressure gauge
pressure
user
toes
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US13/475,709
Inventor
Sean Wheeler
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Sean Wheeler
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Sean Wheeler filed Critical Sean Wheeler
Priority to US13/475,709 priority Critical patent/US20130310227A1/en
Publication of US20130310227A1 publication Critical patent/US20130310227A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B21/00Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices
    • A63B21/008Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using hydraulic or pneumatic force-resisters
    • A63B21/0085Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using hydraulic or pneumatic force-resisters using pneumatic force-resisters
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B21/00Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices
    • A63B21/00058Mechanical means for varying the resistance
    • A63B21/00069Setting or adjusting the resistance level; Compensating for a preload prior to use, e.g. changing length of resistance or adjusting a valve
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B21/00Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices
    • A63B21/00058Mechanical means for varying the resistance
    • A63B21/00076Mechanical means for varying the resistance on the fly, i.e. varying the resistance during exercise
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B21/00Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices
    • A63B21/40Interfaces with the user related to strength training; Details thereof
    • A63B21/4027Specific exercise interfaces
    • A63B21/4033Handles, pedals, bars or platforms
    • A63B21/4034Handles, pedals, bars or platforms for operation by feet
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B23/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body
    • A63B23/035Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously
    • A63B23/03508For a single arm or leg
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B23/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body
    • A63B23/035Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously
    • A63B23/04Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously for lower limbs
    • A63B23/10Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously for lower limbs for feet or toes
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/50Force related parameters
    • A63B2220/56Pressure

Abstract

A method and device for strengthening a human foot includes a bladder, a pressure gauge, a check valve for allowing air to flow into the bladder while preventing air from flowing out, and a release valve. The bladder is coupled to the pressure gauge by a flexible tubing. The bladder is placed on the floor under the first and second toes of a user's foot, and the pressure gauge and valve assembly are held in the user's hand. The first and second toes are contracted to squeeze the bladder and thereby cause an increase in pressure in the tubing and at the pressure gauge. The user observes the pressure reading on the pressure gauge and then operates the release valve to release the pressure. The process of contracting the toes, squeezing the bladder, observing the pressure gauge, and releasing the pressure is then repeated for a desired number of repetitions.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates generally to physical therapy methods and devices, and more particularly to methods and devices for strengthening muscles of the human foot.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • For the last several years, athletic shoes have become softer and more cushioned. This has led to small muscles of the foot adapting to the ground surface less, and thus becoming weaker. This weakness has led to significant changes throughout the gait cycle, which in turn has led to plantar fasciitis, knee and hip arthritis, and innumerable other medical problems.
  • Strengthening of the small muscles of the human foot has become a popular treatment, but follow through by patients has been spotty. The biggest reason for this is the small muscles in the foot are endurance muscles, and therefore take months to adequately strengthen. When it takes this long, patients get discouraged.
  • Various devices are known in the prior art having inflatable bladders that can be placed in a user's hand and used to strengthen hand and arm muscles. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,643,138, 6,086,516, 6,725,728 and 6,918,862 disclose such devices.
  • There is a need for an improved method and device for use in strengthening the foot.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • An object of the present invention is to provide an improved method for use in strengthening the human foot.
  • Other objects of the present invention are to provide a method for strengthening the human foot that effectively strengthens the muscles in the foot, encourages patients during the treatment regimen, improves follow through by patients, and provides immediate biofeedback to the user.
  • To accomplish these and other objects, the present invention provides a method and device for strengthening a human foot that includes a bladder, a pressure gauge, a check valve for allowing air to flow into the bladder while preventing air from flowing out, and a release valve. The bladder is coupled to the pressure gauge by a flexible tubing. The bladder is placed on the floor under the first and second toes of a user's foot, and the pressure gauge and valve assembly are held in the user's hand. The first and second toes are contracted to squeeze the bladder and thereby cause an increase in pressure in the tubing and at the pressure gauge. The user observes the pressure reading on the pressure gauge and then operates the release valve to release the pressure. The process of contracting the toes, squeezing the bladder, observing the pressure gauge, and releasing the pressure is then repeated for a desired number of repetitions.
  • According to an aspect of the present invention, a method of strengthening a human foot is provided, comprising: providing a pressure gauge, a bladder coupled to the pressure gauge to force air to the pressure gauge, a first check valve for allowing air to flow into the bladder while preventing air from flowing out of the bladder, and a release valve associated with the pressure gauge; placing the bladder under first and second toes of a user's foot; contracting the first and second toes to squeeze the bladder to thereby cause an increase in pressure to the pressure gauge while observing a pressure reading on the pressure gauge; releasing the pressure from the pressure gauge using the release valve; and repeating the contracting and releasing steps for a desired number of repetitions to provide a foot strengthening regimen with biofeedback from the pressure gauge as to the strength of contractions of the first and second toes.
  • According to another aspect of the present invention, a foot strengthening device is provided, comprising: a pressure gauge; an ovoid-shaped bladder coupled to the pressure gauge to force air to the pressure gauge, the bladder being sized to fit under and to be squeezed by contractions of a user's first and second toes of a foot to be strengthened; a first check valve for allowing air to flow into the bladder while preventing air from flowing out of the bladder when the bladder is squeezed by the user's first and second toes; and a release valve associated with the pressure gauge to allow the user to release the pressure on the pressure gauge after each repetition during use. The device can be used in a foot strengthening regimen that provides biofeedback from the pressure gauge as to a strength of contractions of the user's first and second toes.
  • Numerous other objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in this art from the following description wherein there is shown and described an embodiment of the present invention, simply by way of illustration of one of the modes best suited to carry out the invention. As will be realized, the invention is capable of other different embodiments, and its several details are capable of modification in various obvious aspects without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and description should be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The present invention will become more clearly appreciated as the disclosure of the invention is made with reference to the accompanying drawings. In the drawings:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a foot strengthening device according to the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the foot strengthening device shown in FIG. 1.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • A foot strengthening device 10 and method according to the present invention will be explained in detail with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the accompanying drawings.
  • The foot strengthening device 10 includes a bladder 11, a pressure gauge 12 coupled to the bladder 11, and a valve assembly 13 associated with the pressure gauge 12.
  • The bladder 11 is sized to fit under and to be squeezed by contractions of a user's first and second toes 14, 15 of a foot F to be strengthened. In the illustrated embodiment, the bladder 11 has an ovoid shape approximately the size of a large chicken egg (e.g., approximately 3 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter at its mid section). The bladder 11 is preferably made of resilient rubber or synthetic materials that allow the bladder 11 to be compressed and squeezed by the user's first and second toes 14, 15. The resilient material of the bladder 11 causes the bladder 11 to return to its original shape each time it is released after being squeezed.
  • A first check valve 16 is provided in a first port 17 of the bladder 11. The first check valve 16 prevents air from flowing out of the bladder 11 through the first port 17 when the bladder 11 is squeezed, and then allows air to flow into the bladder 11 after the bladder 11 is released. The first check valve 16 thus allows the bladder 11 to be repeatedly squeezed and released during a treatment regimen, and to be refilled with air each time it is released. As the bladder 11 reverts back to its original shape, the vacuum it creates draws additional air into the bladder 11 through the first check valve 16.
  • The pressure gauge 12 is coupled to a second port 18 of the bladder 11 using a length of flexible tubing 19. The tubing 19 preferably has a length that allows a user to hold the pressure gauge 12 in the user's hand, while the bladder 11 is positioned under the user's foot F. For example, the tubing 19 can be approximately 2 to 4 feet in length.
  • The pressure gauge 12 includes a graduation 20 provided thereon, and a pointer 21 rotatable relative to the graduation 20 to indicate the pressure value. Alternatively, other types of pressure gauges can be used, such as digital or electrical type pressure gauges.
  • The valve assembly 13 functions to maintain pressure at the pressure gauge 12 until it is released by the user. The valve assembly 13 can be provided inline in the flexible tubing 19, or it can be attached to or integrated into the pressure gauge 12.
  • The valve assembly 13 includes a second check valve 22 and a release valve 23, both of which can be incorporated into a single valve body. The release valve 23 is located between the second check valve 22 and the pressure gauge 12. The second check valve 22 allows ingress of air from the flexible tubing 19 to the pressure gauge 12, while preventing egress of air from the pressure gauge 12. The release valve 23 is operable to selectively release the pressure from the pressure gauge 12.
  • The release valve 23 has a knob or button 24 that can be actuated by a user to bleed or release air pressure from the pressure gauge 12 (i.e., from the area 25 between the second check valve 22 and the input port 26 on the pressure gauge 12). The knob or button 24 can be, for example, a rotatable knob or a spring-loaded button that can be manipulated by the fingers of the user's hand. In a preferred embodiment, the pressure gauge 12 and valve assembly 13 are constructed and sized to fit into a user's hand, and the knob or button 24 of the valve assembly 13 can be operated by the fingers of the same hand.
  • The foot strengthening device 10 of the present invention is described above. A method of using the device 10 to strengthen a user's foot will now be described.
  • The bladder 11 is placed on the floor under the first and second toes 14, 15 of a user's foot F to be strengthened, and the pressure gauge 12 and valve assembly 13 are held in the user's hand. The first and second toes 14, 15 are contracted to squeeze the bladder 11 and thereby cause an increase in pressure in the tubing 19 and at the pressure gauge 12. The user observes the pressure reading on the pressure gauge 12 and then operates the release valve 23 to release the pressure.
  • The process of contracting the toes 14, 15, squeezing the bladder 11, observing the pressure gauge 12, and releasing the pressure using the valve assembly 13 is then repeated for a desired number of repetitions. The pressure gauge reading provides biofeedback to the user as to the strength of the contractions of the first and second toes 14, 15. For example, a foot strengthening regimen may comprise five sets of 10 repetitions each three days a week, or any other regimen as prescribed by a user's doctor, physical therapist, or physical trainer.
  • The foot strengthening method and device 10 of the present invention allows the user to measure the strength of contraction of the foot muscles during use. When the bladder 11 is squeezed under the first and second toes 14, 15, the pressure gauge 12 indicates the strength of the contraction by change in pressure. After the contraction is completed, the patient presses or otherwise activates the release valve 23, and the bladder 11 fills with air again beginning the next repetition.
  • The present invention has been found to significantly improve foot strengthening exercises by adding the pressure gauge 12. Patients express joy in seeing the strength of contractions increasing over the length of the treatment regimen. Patients also note that the strengthening is more effective as they feel they have to reach a certain pressure for the contraction to be counted. Without the biofeedback from the gauge, patients are more likely to count any contraction or repetition regardless how weak or ineffective.
  • While the invention has been specifically described in connection with specific embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that this is by way of illustration and not of limitation, and the scope of the appended claims should be construed as broadly as the prior art will permit.

Claims (12)

What is claimed is:
1. A method of strengthening a human foot, comprising:
providing a pressure gauge, a bladder coupled to said pressure gauge to force air to said pressure gauge, a first check valve for allowing air to flow into said bladder while preventing air from flowing out of said bladder, and a release valve associated with the pressure gauge;
placing the bladder under first and second toes of a user's foot;
contracting said first and second toes to squeeze the bladder to thereby cause an increase in pressure to said pressure gauge while observing a pressure reading on said pressure gauge;
releasing the pressure from said pressure gauge using said release valve; and
repeating the contracting and releasing steps for a desired number of repetitions to provide a foot strengthening regimen with biofeedback from the pressure gauge as to the strength of contractions of the first and second toes.
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein said release valve is provided on or adjacent to said pressure gauge to allow the user to hold the pressure gauge and release the pressure using one hand.
3. The method according to claim 1, wherein said bladder is shaped as an ovoid.
4. The method according to claim 3, wherein said bladder is placed on a floor surface and has a size that allows said bladder to fit under a user's first and second toes while a remaining part of the user's foot rests on the floor surface.
5. The method according to claim 1, wherein said first check valve is provided in a first port of said bladder.
6. The method according to claim 1, wherein said bladder is coupled to said pressure gauge by a flexible tubing coupled to a second port of said bladder.
7. The method according to claim 6, further comprising a second check valve between said bladder and said release valve.
8. A foot strengthening device, comprising:
a pressure gauge;
an ovoid-shaped bladder coupled to said pressure gauge to force air to said pressure gauge, said bladder being sized to fit under and to be squeezed by contractions of a user's first and second toes of a foot to be strengthened;
a first check valve for allowing air to flow into said bladder while preventing air from flowing out of said bladder when the bladder is squeezed by the user's first and second toes; and
a release valve associated with the pressure gauge to allow the user to release the pressure on the pressure gauge after each repetition during use, whereby said device can be used in a foot strengthening regimen that provides biofeedback from the pressure gauge as to a strength of contractions of the user's first and second toes.
9. The device according to claim 8, wherein said release valve is provided on or adjacent to said pressure gauge to allow the user to hold the pressure gauge and release the pressure using one hand.
10. The device according to claim 8, wherein said first check valve is provided in a first port of said bladder.
11. The device according to claim 8, wherein said bladder is coupled to said pressure gauge by a flexible tubing coupled to a second port of said bladder.
12. The device according to claim 11, further comprising a second check valve between said bladder and said release valve.
US13/475,709 2012-05-18 2012-05-18 Foot strengthening device and method Abandoned US20130310227A1 (en)

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Citations (14)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US2006878A (en) * 1933-12-09 1935-07-02 Taylor Instrument Co Combined air leak and valve for a sphygmomanometer
US2437861A (en) * 1944-06-08 1948-03-16 Charles B Rohr Sphygmomanometers
US2507858A (en) * 1948-04-29 1950-05-16 Arnold H Kegel Apparatus to indicate progressive exercise of injured sphincter muscles
US2560237A (en) * 1951-07-10 Sphygmomanometer
US3621845A (en) * 1969-05-14 1971-11-23 Dennis G Oates Sphygmomanometer
US3659592A (en) * 1970-09-04 1972-05-02 Zygmunt Natkanski Blood pressure measuring device
GB1375294A (en) * 1971-05-04 1974-11-27
US5048532A (en) * 1989-09-18 1991-09-17 State University Of New York Method and apparatus for measuring blood pressure
US5291895A (en) * 1985-06-03 1994-03-08 Mcintyre Kevin M Evaluation of heart mechanical performance
US5562105A (en) * 1991-07-30 1996-10-08 Steven B. Syrop Fluid motion jaw exercising device
US20020069731A1 (en) * 2000-09-14 2002-06-13 Soucy Alan J. Vibration dampening apparatus
US20040044289A1 (en) * 2002-09-04 2004-03-04 Oh Man S. Pocket sphygmomanometer
US7320599B2 (en) * 2003-10-02 2008-01-22 Gary Jay Morris Blood pressure simulation apparatus with tactile interface
US20110077535A1 (en) * 2008-05-27 2011-03-31 Precision Medical Technology Ltd. Apparatus and method for digital sphygmomanometer

Patent Citations (14)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US2560237A (en) * 1951-07-10 Sphygmomanometer
US2006878A (en) * 1933-12-09 1935-07-02 Taylor Instrument Co Combined air leak and valve for a sphygmomanometer
US2437861A (en) * 1944-06-08 1948-03-16 Charles B Rohr Sphygmomanometers
US2507858A (en) * 1948-04-29 1950-05-16 Arnold H Kegel Apparatus to indicate progressive exercise of injured sphincter muscles
US3621845A (en) * 1969-05-14 1971-11-23 Dennis G Oates Sphygmomanometer
US3659592A (en) * 1970-09-04 1972-05-02 Zygmunt Natkanski Blood pressure measuring device
GB1375294A (en) * 1971-05-04 1974-11-27
US5291895A (en) * 1985-06-03 1994-03-08 Mcintyre Kevin M Evaluation of heart mechanical performance
US5048532A (en) * 1989-09-18 1991-09-17 State University Of New York Method and apparatus for measuring blood pressure
US5562105A (en) * 1991-07-30 1996-10-08 Steven B. Syrop Fluid motion jaw exercising device
US20020069731A1 (en) * 2000-09-14 2002-06-13 Soucy Alan J. Vibration dampening apparatus
US20040044289A1 (en) * 2002-09-04 2004-03-04 Oh Man S. Pocket sphygmomanometer
US7320599B2 (en) * 2003-10-02 2008-01-22 Gary Jay Morris Blood pressure simulation apparatus with tactile interface
US20110077535A1 (en) * 2008-05-27 2011-03-31 Precision Medical Technology Ltd. Apparatus and method for digital sphygmomanometer

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