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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
GARMENTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/133483
Kind Code:
A3
Abstract:
The invention provides a garment (12) for stimulating the human body to trigger desired responses in selected physiological systems. The garment (12) includes a flexible structure that is configured to extend in close proximity around part of the body and includes inwardly extending protuberances (14) in locations corresponding to activation areas on the human body, for triggering desired responses IN selected physiological structures.

Inventors:
HEEL, Douglas James (16 Riverside, 7405 Pinelands, ZA)
Application Number:
IB2009/051301
Publication Date:
January 28, 2010
Filing Date:
March 30, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
HEEL, Douglas James (16 Riverside, 7405 Pinelands, ZA)
International Classes:
A41D13/00; A42B1/12; A42B3/04; A61H39/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2006103917A12006-10-05
WO2005018350A12005-03-03
Foreign References:
GB2400802A2004-10-27
DE3819859A11989-12-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TRUTER, Kenneth Colin (Brian Bacon and Associates, 2nd Floor Mareindahl House Newlands onMain Newlands, 7700 Cape Town, ZA)
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Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A garment comprising at least one flexible structure that is configured to extend around part of the human body in close proximity to the skin, said garment further including at least one inwardly extending protuberance in a location corresponding to an activation area on the human body for triggering a desired response in at least one selected physiological structure.

2. A garment as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the garment comprises at least in part of flexible sheet material .

3. A garment as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the protuberance comprises of a body of resiliently compressible material, attached to the inside of the structure.

4. A garment as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the protuberance comprises of a body of resiliently compressible material that forms part of the structure.

5. A garment as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the location of each protuberance corresponds to an activation area as indicated in the accompanying drawings.

Description:

GARMENTS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to physical stimulation of the human body to improve neural drive to muscle and functional structures. In particular, the present invention relates to garments.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

The behaviour of mammalian bodies such as human bodies includes complex phenomena and while no all the phenomena are entirely understood, aspects of human physiological behaviour can be explained by reference to sympathetic responses and its antithesis, para-sympathetic responses. In a sympathetic response, typically triggered by states of stress, pain, dysfunction, poor performance, etc., the human body enters a state of alarm in which survival gets priority over performance of the body, muscle tone is increased generally and the body tends to "close up" muscle and functional structures - i.e. the physiological structures assume positions in which they do not perform optimally, such as forward displacement of the shoulders and crouching of the back (among other effects). By contrast, in a para-sympathetic response, the inhibiting neural messages are ameliorated and physiological structures tend to relax generally and to "open up", i.e. assume a neutral position, resulting in almost immediate changes in the body's physiological capabilities and allowing it to perform, rest, recover and/or handle stress more effectively.

While a sympathetic response in the human body presumably has a purpose, e.g. when fending off an attack, the body functions better in many respects when in a neutral state. Unfortunately, the sympathetic response systems of most adults in industrialised environments tend to be over-stimulated by the impacts of stress, the environment, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and the like.

It has been found that responses resembling para-sympathetic responses can be triggered, with advantageous effects in certain muscle and functional structures, by

applying pressure for short periods during experiments in locations that are specific to the targeted structures. For the purposes of this specification, reference shall be made to the areas where pressure is applied in this technique as "activation areas" and to the response that is triggered, as "activation" of the muscle/functional (i.e. physiological) structure. The technique requires applying pressure in certain activation areas until the targeted muscle/functional structure has been activated and then applying pressure in the next activation area to activate the next desired physiological structure. This can be very useful when applied by a trained person to activate targeted physiological structures, e.g. in preparing a sportsman shortly before a sporting event, but the effect of the activation wears off and pressure needs to be re-applied over time, e.g. before the next training session or sports event. The need to have these activation techniques applied by trained persons causes it to be too inconvenient, expensive, logistically impractical, etc. for most people who could benefit from it.

Further, even to those who have access to the application of these activation techniques, it can typically only be applied during sessions when the subject is precluded from other activity and not during the activities for which the subject most requires the effects of the treatment, i.e. time needs to be set aside for the activation.

The present invention seeks to stimulate activation areas to trigger a desired response in selected physiological systems without the need for the stimulation to be applied by a trained person and in a manner that is convenient and cost effective and that is available during physical activity.

SUMMANY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention there is provided a garment comprising at least one flexible structure that is configured to extend around part of the human body in close proximity to the skin, said garment further including at least one inwardly extending protuberance in a location corresponding to an activation area on the human body for triggering a desired response in at least one selected physiological

structure.

The word "garment" is intended to include any article that is worn on the human body, thus including conventional garments, but also headgear, webbing, wetsuits, and the like.

The structure of the garment may comprise at least in part of flexible sheet material, preferably of an elastic sheet material, such as a stretchable fabric.

The protuberance may comprise of a body of resiliently compressible material, such as elastomehc foam and may be attached to the inside of the structure or it may form part of the structure.

The locations of the protuberances may correspond to the activation areas as indicated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the present invention and to show how it may be carried into effect, the invention will now be described by way of non-limiting example, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 shows an anterior view of a first and second embodiment of garments in accordance with the present invention; Figure 2 shows a posterior view of the garments of Figure 1 ; Figure 3 shows a side view of a third embodiment of a garment in accordance with the present invention, in use; and Figure 4 shows a side view of a fourth embodiment of a garment in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring to the drawings, a first garment in accordance with the present invention is in the form of a shirt 10 and a second garment in accordance with the invention is in

the form of pants 12. Each of these garments 10,12 includes a structure in the form of sheets of stretch fabric that are sewn together to form an elastic shell that is configured to extend tightly around part of the human body.

On the insides of each of the garments 10,12, protuberances 14 are provided that protrude to the inside of the garment, i.e. towards the human body wearing the garments. (The suffixes to the reference numbers on the protuberances will be described below.) Each protuberance 14 is in the form of a soft, resilient elastomeric foam that is sewn to the inside of the stretch fabric of the garment 10,12 in a location corresponding to an activation area on the human body. In the drawings, a number of protuberances 14 are shown in positions corresponding to activation areas on the body, but this is done for illustrative purposes and in practice, a garment would typically only include protuberances corresponding to the activation areas of selected physiological structures. A garment 10,12 would thus be designed to include protuberances 14 disposed to correspond to activation areas of physiological systems that need to be activated for a selected activity, e.g. a shirt 10 and/or pair of pants 12 designed for a particular sport.

The structure of the protuberances 14 described above, with foam sewn to the inside of the garment 10,12, is merely an example and other suitable structures for the protuberances include with resilient elements comprising pockets of gel or gas (e.g. air), rubber, gel paint, rubber or plastic mouldings such as pimples, or the like.

Referring to Figure 3, a third garment in accordance with the invention is in the form of a swimming cap 16, including a structure in the form of an elastic shell with an elastic strap 18 that can extend around the wearer's chin. Protuberances 14 are attached to the inside of the cap 16 and its strap 18.

Referring to Figure 4, a fourth garment in accordance with the invention is in the form of a helmet 20, including a structure in the form of a padded shell 22 with an elastic strap 24 that can extend around the wearer's chin. Protuberances 1 are attached to the inside of the padding and the strap 24.

The activation area to which each of the protuberances 14 corresponds, is identified by its suffix and the targeted physiological systems corresponding to the activation areas are: 14.1 Central line (opens shoulders)

14.2 Sternocleidomastoid

14.3 Diaphragm

14.4 Shoulders and chest muscles

14.5 Latissimus dorsi and piriformis (posterior oblique sling) 14.6 Quadriceps

14.7 Calves and adrenals

14.8 Psoas / gluteus maximus and hamstring complex

14.9 Lateral sling

14.10 Tibialis anterior 14.11 Abdominals

14.12 Anterior and posterior neck structures

14.13 Trapezius and levator scapulae

14.14 Sacro iliac stability

14.15 Pelvic floor 14.16 Gluteus maximus 14.17 Gluteus maximus

All defence patterns of the human body involve some form of anterior collapsing, with the result that most of the activation areas address this from the front.

In use, while a garment 10,12,16,20 is worn, each protuberance 14 is lightly urged towards its corresponding activation area on the body by the elasticity of the fabric, so that the protuberance presses on the skin. The pressure need not be hard or prolonged, but needs to be sufficient to stimulate the activation area and trigger activation of the target physiological system, thus improving neural drive to the system and improving its performance.

Experimental results have shown that activation of physiological structures in this manner has resulted in improvements in strength, power, flexibility, endurance, balance, co-ordination and speed. However, the benefits of activation of physiological systems by the protuberances 14 of the garments 10,12,16,20 are not limited to sports, but applications include stress management, medical applications, use in armed forces, by corporate employees, etc. These benefits are also effective for all ages and for both males and females.

As an example of activation, one of the protuberances 14.3 is located in a position corresponding to the activation area of the diaphragm. When a shirt 10 is worn that includes protuberance 14.3, the protuberance presses on the wearer's sternum, which is the body's primary defence position and as such, is the first area to close in a sympathetic response of the body, resulting in an inability of the diaphragm to function optimally. However, the protuberance 14.3 is continually pressed against the skin in the region of the sternum and activates the diaphragm by encouraging a correct balance of neural control to the diaphragm, which in turn stimulates a parasympathetic response. The stimulation of the body by the protuberance 14.3 acts a constant reminder to the body to use this system and so allows the wearer of the shirt 10 to manage states of stress more effectively.