Patent application title: Walking Support
David C. Yu (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
David C. Yu (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
Christopher S. Yu (Laguna Niguel, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA43B714FI
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings boots and shoes foot-supporting or foot-conforming feature
Publication date: 2011-12-15
Patent application number: 20110302808
Methods and apparatus for walking support are provided. The walking
support is comprised of a sole, a toe cover connected to the sole at the
front of the sole, and a heel cup connected to the sole at the rear of
the sole. The heel cup may have a vertical extension that extends upward
to a cuff that wraps around the wearer's lower leg. The walking support
may be worn over stockings with conventional shoes or boots, or may be
incorporated into the footwear. A boot incorporating a walking support
includes a lower leg cuff, which is closed in the same manner as the
boot. A shoe incorporating a walking support does not incorporate a lower
1. A walking support, comprising; a sole; a toe cover connected to the
sole at a front portion of the sole; a heel cup connected to the sole at
a rear portion of the sole, having a vertical extension; and a cuff
connected to the vertical extension of the heel cup.
2. The walking support of claim 1, wherein the walking support is fabricated from elastic material.
3. The walking support of claim 1, wherein the walking support is fabricated from rubber or suitably elastomeric material.
4. A boot incorporating a walking support, comprising; a boot; and a walking support internal to the boot, wherein the walking support further comprises a sole, a toe cover, a heel cup, and a cuff connected to a vertical portion of the heel cup, the cuff anchored to an opening of the boot.
5. The boot of claim 4, wherein the walking support is fabricated from elastic material.
6. The boot of claim 4, wherein the walking support is fabricated from rubber or suitably elastomeric material.
7. A shoe incorporating a walking support, comprising: a shoe; and a walking support internal to the shoe, wherein the walking support further comprises a sole, a toe cover, and a heel cup.
8. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the walking support is fabricated from elastic material.
9. The shoe of claim 7, wherein the walking support is fabricated from rubber or suitably elastomeric material.
10. A method of supporting foot and leg muscles, comprising: collecting energy generated during a first portion of a stride using a walking support; and returning the energy generated during a first portion of a stride during a second portion of the stride.
11. An apparatus for supporting foot and leg muscles, comprising: means for collecting energy generated during a first portion of a stride using a walking support; and means for returning the energy generated during the first portion of a stride during a second portion of the stride.
 1. Field
 The present disclosure relates generally to a walking support, and, in particular, to an apparatus and method for supporting and returning energy to foot and lower leg muscles while walking.
 2. Background
 Walking is an activity required by many jobs and sports. Many athletic activities such as power walking, hiking, and running extensively tax the foot and lower leg muscles. Many jobs require a significant amount of walking and time spent standing, including construction work, waitressing, sales clerking, nursing, cooks and many others. The amount of walking for these jobs and leisure activities may put significant stress on feet and legs, often leading to fatigue and muscle cramping.
 In an effort to address muscle fatigue and cramping a wide variety of specialty footwear has been designed. A myriad of designs exist for running shoes, including distance running, aerobic, walking, jogging, and specialty work boots for construction workers. These designs may incorporate elastomeric materials designed to return energy to the wearer's foot during a walking or running session. While these specialty shoes may provide ample support and cushioning, this support often comes at the expense of aesthetics or is of limited function. Often, a worker needs support and energy return to prevent fatigue, but is prohibited from wearing sneakers or running-style shoes while working. This may be especially true in professional situations, such as nursing, where uniform requirements may limit footwear selection.
 For some individuals medical needs may require more active support during walking. This may be true for elderly or injured patients who should walk for health benefits, but whose conditions may require more support than a normal walking or running shoe. These patients may prefer a more traditional shoe or may not desire to buy specialty footwear for an activity.
 There is a need in the art for a walking support that may be worn with an individual's own shoes, or incorporated into boot and shoe designs.
 A walking support according to an embodiment of the invention incorporates a sole and a toe cover connected to the front of the sole and a heel cup connected to the sole at a rear portion of the sole. The heel cup has a vertical extension that extends up a wearer's leg and terminates in a cuff around the lower leg.
 An additional embodiment provides a walking support integrated into a boot. The walking support is internal to the boot and comprises a sole, a toe cover, a heel cup, and a cuff connected to a vertical portion of the heel cup. The cuff is anchored to the normal boot opening and the boot closes normally.
 Yet a further embodiment provides a shoe incorporating a walking support. The walking support is internal to the shoe and comprises a sole, toe cover, and a heel cup.
 A method of supporting the foot and leg muscles is also provided. The method comprises collecting energy that is generated during a first portion of the wearer's stride using a walking support. The collected energy is returned to the wearer's leg and foot muscles during the second portion of the stride.
 A further embodiment provides an apparatus for supporting foot and leg muscles. The apparatus comprises means for collecting energy generated during a first portion of a stride using a walking support. The apparatus further comprises means for returning the energy generated during the first portion of a stride during a second portion of the stride. Various aspects and embodiments of the invention are described in further detail below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is an illustration of the top and sole views of a walking support, in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is an illustration of a walking support incorporated into a boot, in accordance with one or more embodiments the present invention.
 FIG. 3 is an illustration of a walking support incorporated into a shoe, according to one or more embodiments of the present invention.
 Various embodiments are now described with reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements throughout. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of one or more embodiments. It may be evident, however, that such embodiment(s) may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form in order to facilitate describing one or more embodiments.
 In the following paragraphs, the present invention will be described in detail by way of example with reference to the attached drawings. Throughout this description, the preferred embodiment and examples shown should be considered as exemplars, rather than as limitations on the present invention. As used herein, the "present invention" refers to any one of the embodiments of the invention described herein, and any equivalents. Furthermore, reference to various feature(s) of the "present invention" throughout this document does not mean that all claimed embodiments or methods must include the referenced feature(s).
 Walking requires use of multiple muscles in the feet and legs to propel the body forward while maintaining dynamic balance. A normal step is initiated when an individual places one foot in front of the other. The body weight begins to shift to the front foot. During this weight transition, the muscles of the back foot and leg begin to stretch. Once the walker has fully transitioned to the front foot, the back foot is free to swing in front, becoming the front foot. Initiating this movement of the back foot requires contraction in the muscles of the toes, foot and leg. Both intrinsic muscles, such as the toes and sole of the foot, and extrinsic muscles, such as the calf (gastrocnemius) and Achilles tendon as involved.
 An embodiment of the invention provides for a walking support that is elastic and stores energy during the stretching portion of a stride and releases that energy when the leg and foot swing forward in front of the other leg and foot. The energy released assists in the striding action. This device stores energy generated from gravity induced efforts of the walker and may be especially helpful when walking uphill, since the stretching action is greater. The walking support provides greater stretch when the rear foot and leg is bent, thus storing energy and releasing it when the foot and leg move forward. This reduces the energy expended during a stride. No energy is stored when the walker is at rest.
 FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment that may be worn over stockings. The device 100, is shown worn over a stocking 110. The device consists of a sole portion 102 that extends along the length of the foot, from the toes to the heel. Visible from the top of a wearer's foot is a toe cover 104, extending over the top of the toes. A heel cover or cap 106 covers the heel and extends up and along the Achilles tendon to a cuff 108. The design ensures that the walking support stretches properly when the foot bends during a stride, and also keep the walking support properly positioned on the foot.
 The amount of energy collected by the walking support may be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the thickness of the material, or by shortening the length of the sole 102 and heel cup 106 portions of the walking support. Spandex or rubber or any suitably elastic material may be used. Material selection may be based on the amount of energy return desired and may vary depending on the intended use of the walking support. For example, walking supports designed for athletic use may be made of different materials than that used in walking supports for normal day-to-day activities. FIG. 2 depicts a walking support incorporated into a boot, such as a work boot worn in the construction industry. The boot 200 incorporates a walking support with a cuff 202 anchored around the boot opening. Cuff 202 is stitched into the boot during construction. Toe cover 206 may be glued or otherwise fixed within the boot 200. The sole 208 and heel cup 204 should move freely to stretch and collect and return energy. The cuff 202 clasps the lower leg of the wearer when the boot is laced or closed normally.
 FIG. 3 illustrates a walking support incorporated into a typical shoe. The shoe 300 has a walking support embedded inside. The shoe with walking support 300 incorporates a sole 306 of the walking support. Toe cover 304 extends over the wearer's toes. Heel cup 302 extends over the wearer's heel, but does not extend up the lower leg. Because the walking support shoe 300 does not extend up the lower leg, the exertion of the calf muscle does not contribute to the energy returned to the wearer. The amount of energy collected by the shoe with walking support is comparable to shoes having embedded springs, but is less than that collected by the embodiments discussed above.
 While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not of limitation. Likewise, the various diagrams may depict an example architectural or other configuration for the invention, which is done to aid in understanding the features and functionality that may be included in the invention. The invention is not restricted to the illustrated example architectures or configurations, but the desired features may be implemented using a variety of alternative architectures and configurations. Indeed, it will be apparent to one of skill in the art how alternative functional, logical or physical partitioning and configurations may be implemented to implement the desired features of the present invention. Also, a multitude of different constituent module names other than those depicted herein may be applied to the various partitions. Additionally, with regard to flow diagrams, operational descriptions and method claims, the order in which the steps are presented herein shall not mandate that various embodiments be implemented to perform the recited functionality in the same order unless the context dictates otherwise.
 Although the invention is described above in terms of various exemplary embodiments and implementations, it should be understood that the various features, aspects and functionality described in one or more of the individual embodiments are not limited in their applicability to the particular embodiment with which they are described, but instead may be applied, alone or in various combinations, to one or more of the other embodiments of the invention, whether or not such embodiments are described and whether or not such features are presented as being a part of a described embodiment. Thus the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments.
 Terms and phrases used in this document, and variations thereof, unless otherwise expressly stated, should be construed as open ended as opposed to limiting. As examples of the foregoing: the term "including" should be read as meaning "including, without limitation" or the like; the term "example" is used to provide exemplary instances of the item in discussion, not an exhaustive or limiting list thereof; the terms "a" or "an" should be read as meaning "at least one," "one or more" or the like; and adjectives such as "conventional," "traditional," "normal," "standard," "known" and terms of similar meaning should not be construed as limiting the item described to a given time period or to an item available as of a given time, but instead should be read to encompass conventional, traditional, normal, or standard technologies that may be available or known now or at any time in the future. Likewise, where this document refers to technologies that would be apparent or known to one of ordinary skill in the art, such technologies encompass those apparent or known to the skilled artisan now or at any time in the future.
 A group of items linked with the conjunction "and" should not be read as requiring that each and every one of those items be present in the grouping, but rather should be read as "and/or" unless expressly stated otherwise. Similarly, a group of items linked with the conjunction "or" should not be read as requiring mutual exclusivity among that group, but rather should also be read as "and/or" unless expressly stated otherwise. Furthermore, although items, elements or components of the invention may be described or claimed in the singular, the plural is contemplated to be within the scope thereof unless limitation to the singular is explicitly stated.
 The presence of broadening words and phrases such as "one or more," "at least," "but not limited to" or other like phrases in some instances shall not be read to mean that the narrower case is intended or required in instances where such broadening phrases may be absent. The use of the term "module" does not imply that the components or functionality described or claimed as part of the module are all configured in a common package. Indeed, any or all of the various components of a module, whether control logic or other components, may be combined in a single package or separately maintained and may further be distributed across multiple locations.
 Additionally, the various embodiments set forth herein are described in terms of exemplary block diagrams, flow charts and other illustrations. As will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after reading this document, the illustrated embodiments and their various alternatives may be implemented without confinement to the illustrated examples. For example, block diagrams and their accompanying description should not be construed as mandating a particular architecture or configuration.
 The previous description of the disclosed embodiments is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make or use the present invention. Various modifications to these embodiments will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the generic principles defined herein may be applied to other embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown herein but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.
Patent applications by David C. Yu, Laguna Niguel, CA US
Patent applications in class Foot-supporting or foot-conforming feature
Patent applications in all subclasses Foot-supporting or foot-conforming feature