Patent application title: Leg Stretching Machine For Simultaneously Stretching All Stride Muscles And Method Of Using
Denis E. Burek (Cumming, GA, US)
Denis E. Burek (Cumming, GA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B2600FI
Class name: Exercise devices support for entire body of user (e.g., bench, slant board, etc.)
Publication date: 2013-08-29
Patent application number: 20130225378
A muscle-stretching machine designed to provide the user with an easy
method of functional and dynamic stretching and also provide the user
with flexibility feedback information as to the performance of the
stretch, with regards to the included angle between the two legs. A user
of the muscle stretching machine can set the roller pad along any point
along the back of the user's leg and set the angle the roller pad makes
with the floor, so that the angle exceeds the users stride length. The
user then lies on their back on the cushioned surface; places one leg on
the roller pad and the other leg is allowed to hang down. If the roller
pad is set at an angle that exceeds the users stride length, then the leg
not on the pad will not contact the floor. As a result, when the free leg
drops all the muscles in the user's stride are stretched.
1. Personal apparatus for stretching the leg, abdominal, groin, and lower
back muscles of a user, where said apparatus provides flexibility
feedback to said user on the performance of said muscle stretching
apparatus comprising: a two sided, horizontally oriented bench system
formed by a plurality of horizontal frame members a cushioned surface and
a plurality of vertical frame members secured thereto to define a floor
supporting base, said cushioned surface, and two sides for said system,
where said system is sized to accommodate said user in a reclined
position; a manually operable leg holder is vertically and rotatably
adjustable to support the leg of said user, and said leg holder makes
contact with the upper and lower leg of said user; a said bench system
for receiving said user in a reclined position; said leg holder is
coupled to said bench system using vertically and rotatably adjustable
said vertical frame members; and visual means to provide said real time
feedback to said user on the performance of said stretching, said means
including a marked surface and pointer monitoring said performance.
2. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said horizontally oriented frame members comprise in part a plurality of generally rectangular members coupled to said cushioned surface and said vertical frame members to form said bench system.
3. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 1, wherein there are a pair of parallel, vertically and rotatably adjustable said frame members consisting of C-shaped channels, the open ends facing one another.
4. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 3, wherein a manually operable slide mechanism to facilitate the vertical movement of said leg holder, further said slide mechanisms having quick release pin and lever mechanisms attached thereto to allow said user to vertically adjust height of said leg holder.
5. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 3, wherein there are a pair of stationary, vertical plates protruding both horizontally and vertically from said cushioned surface and forming the sides of said bench system; said vertical plates accept said C-shaped channels with openings facing one another and allow said C-shaped channels to be vertically and rotatably adjustable.
6. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 4, wherein a manually operable pair of said slide mechanisms consists of second sized C-shaped channels, the open ends facing away from one another, where said slide mechanism is sized to slide without restriction when said quick release pin and lever mechanism is released.
7. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said C-shaped channels attach rotatably to said vertical plates and held in place by accurate placement of second pair of said quick release pin and lever mechanism.
8. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 3, wherein all said quick release pin and lever mechanisms are spring loaded so that said pin retracts when said lever is depressed and said pin sets when said lever is released.
9. The personal stretching apparatus according to claim 6, wherein said leg holder is coupled to said slide mechanism so that it is parallel, variably positioned, and locked for said user's leg above said bench system.
10. A personal exercise machine comprising a cushioned back pad that is sized to accommodate a user in a reclined position, and a plurality of vertical members rotatably attached to the back pad, the machine further comprising: a pivot plate assembly that pivotally interconnects the vertical members to the back pad, the pivot plate including means for manually selecting one of a plurality of angles between the vertical members and the back pad, and a roller pad assembly movably attached to the vertical members for supporting the user's leg when raised vertically, the position of the roller pad assembly along a length of the vertical members being manually selectable.
11. The personal exercise machine of claim 10 wherein the particular angle selected is visually indicated on the pivot plate assembly.
12. A method for stretching muscles in a user's stride on the personal exercise machine of claim 1 comprising the following steps: reclining on the back pad and extending one of the user's legs vertically to make contact with the roller pad assembly such that the roller pad is positioned behind the user's knee allowing that leg to bend; allowing the user's other leg to hang freely in a generally horizontal position without coming in contact with a floor beneath the back pad; adjusting the angle between the vertical members and the back pad assembly that causes the hanging leg to raise upward slightly off the floor; and allowing the weight of the hanging leg to stretch the muscles in the user's stride.
13. The method for stretching muscles in a user's stride according to claim 12 wherein the roller pad is positioned behind the user's calf not allowing the extended leg to bend.
14. The method for stretching muscles in a user's stride according to claim 13 wherein the user's other leg hangs freely in a bent position without coming in contact with a floor beneath the back pad.
15. The method for stretching muscles in a user's stride according to claim 13 wherein the angle between the vertical members and the back pad assembly causes the foot of the hanging leg to slightly make contact with the floor beneath the back pad.
16. The method for stretching muscles in a user's stride according to claim 13 wherein the angle between the vertical members and the back pad assembly causes the hanging leg to raise a significant distance upward off of the floor allowing the up and down motion of the hanging leg to stretch the muscles in the users stride.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/633,656, filed Feb. 16, 2012, having the title "LEG STRETCHING MACHINE FOR SIMULTANEOUSLY STRETCHING ALL STRIDE MUSCLES" by Denis Burek, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates to the field of apparatus for stretching and exercising muscles of the body, more particularly to apparatus for [and] providing the user with real time flexibility feedback as to the angle of the stretch through the use of machine settings.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates to a lower body-stretching machine for stretching the muscles of the lower body for the purpose of increasing muscular flexibility and the added benefit of increasing the length and flexibility of the user's stride. There are many different types of stretching apparatus designed to assist the user with stretching their lower body muscles. This unique machine allows the user to stretch all the user's stride muscles by using the weight of the leg not on the roller pad. Thereby providing the user with a lower body systemic stretch; this allows for a complete range of users; from patients requiring physical therapy to athletes preparing for athletic competition.
 One of the most common athletic movements is running and one of the most common every day physical activity is walking. Each activity is performed by groups of people consisting of a wide range of different sizes, shapes, and fitness levels. The common physical task of almost all individuals found in both groups is the repetitive scissoring action the legs perform when walking or running. Improving this leg scissoring action by increasing the flexibility and range of motion of leg and core muscles is one of the primary purposes of the invention described herein.
 Prior to every athletic competition the competing athletes will prepare themselves physically so that they have the proper amount of stamina, muscular strength, fuel, and flexibility. This holds true for all of the major sports found today in the United States of America. Performing a short intense cardiovascular exercise for a few minutes properly warms up an athlete, after which he or she is ready to stretch. If the stretching routine is performed on a regular, consistent basis the range of motion of the stretched muscles will increase allowing the person to become more flexible and less susceptible to injury.
 There are a number of factors, which limit the amount an athlete or patient is able to stretch. The primary four factors are: 1 their existing muscular flexibility and skeletal makeup; 2 the allowable range of motion of a particular stretch; 3 proper stretching technique and; 4 tolerable pain threshold. The one factor that is above the others in importance is the use of proper stretching technique, involving force and application. If too much force is applied or improper technique used then an injury could result. Likewise if too little force were applied then very little if any benefit would result from the stretch. The ideal situation while stretching is to have the muscles properly warmed up, have the muscles in a relaxed state as they are stretched, and use proper technique. Not having the muscles in a relaxed state when they are first stretched is the main impediment to this ideal situation. This is because of the tensile or compressive work required by the muscles to set up and then perform the stretch.
 Burek U.S. Pat. No. 7,563,207 Jul. 21, 2009, Stretching Machine with Real Time Flexibility is a muscle stretching machine, which allows the user to simultaneously stretch all the muscles in their stride and do it while in a standing position. At the same time it provides feed back information to the user. To accommodate all size of expected users for this type of machine, a very sophisticated and expensive machine design is required. A sophisticated machine is required because the machine's pivot point of leg pad rotation must be set to the user's own leg/hip pivot point of rotation. As a result of this sophisticated and expensive piece of engineering, the design and manufacture of this machine restricts it to only commercial and institutional users. There is a need for the type of machine, which provides the same benefits as Burek U.S. Pat. No. 7,563,207, but is inexpensive, and therefore available to all consumers. One of the most important benefits attained when using Burek U.S. Pat. No. 7,563,207 is it allows the user to stretch while stretching. What this means is that when the user is allowed to stretch in a relaxed, back bone neutral (straight) position, with a counter weight assist to actuate the stretch, the user is allowed to hold the stretch for minutes rather than seconds. As the stretch is held the angle of the stretch gradually increases as the minutes go by without any increase in stretch force. For example when a consistent user of Burek U.S. Pat. No. 7,563,207 first begins to stretch the angle of the stretch from the floor to the raised leg is 118 degrees, a lifting force of 21 lbs is applied by the user, and the starting time of the stretch is 0 seconds. As a result of this user's pain threshold, 118 degrees is the most he/she can initially do. But after 180 seconds the angle of the stretch increases to 132 degrees but the leg lifting force applied by the user remains at 21 lbs and the user does not feel any increase in pain. This gives rise to the phrase "stretch while stretching." Once the muscles are stretched for a given period of period of time; using a controlled application of force and technique, the range of the stretch increases without an increase in pain. This same benefit is provided to the user of the invention described and detailed herein. The user's backbone remains neutral and the leg not on the roller pad acts as the force for actuating the stretch when the angle on the machine is set high enough to keep this hanging leg off of the floor.
 Using an assistant you can simulate this type of stretch. Lay flat on your back. Without any knee bend raise both legs up so that they pass over your head and come close to touching the floor over your head. Now have an assistant restrict the movement of one leg by tightly holding it at the ankle with both hands so that the leg does not move. Move the other leg back towards its starting position until it cannot be moved anymore and it is not touching the floor. You have reached your stride limit. Now hold this position. You should be able to hold this stretch for a couple of minutes without too much discomfort. If you viewed this stretch in a mirror as it is done you will notice that the stretching pain remains the same but the angle of the stretch increases over time. This same type of benefit is provided by this invention without the need of an assistant and with a more precise positioning of the leg than when held by the assistant. To simulate the benefit of hamstring stretching provided by this invention repeat the above procedure but this time the assistant holds the leg just above the knee with both hands allowing this leg to bend. Move the other leg back towards its starting position until it cannot be moved anymore and it is not touching the floor. Once the leg not held reaches its stride limit attempt to straighten the leg that is held by an assistant. This straightening motion will stretch the hamstring in the held leg.
 A very common stretch is called the hurdler. It is used to increase the flexibility of the leg muscles. To perform this stretch the person sits on the floor with one leg straight out in front of them, toes up, and the other leg bent back with their heel in proximity with the hip. The person then leans forward as much as possible with the objective of touching their face to the knee of the leg placed straight out and keeping it as straight possible. This position is held for as long as possible before relaxing. This stretch is repeated a number of times. As soon as the person stretching feels like their leg muscles are becoming more flexible as they lean forward; they then lay all the way back flat on their back. The intent is now to keep the knee of the leg bent back as close to the ground as possible without bouncing the leg and to hold this stretch for as long as possible. Several things are readily apparent when performing the hurdler stretch. There is a limit the user can stretch. When leaning forward once the user's face makes contact with the knee the limit of the stretch is reached. When laying back once the knee of the leg bent back comes in contact with the ground the second limit of the stretch is reached. The range of motion for the hurdler stretch is now defined. The pain threshold of the user is reached very quickly because more than just the leg muscles are being worked and stretched. In addition to the leg muscles, the back, abdominal, and shoulder muscles are being used to properly complete the hurdler stretch. Therefore the muscle work required to setup and do the stretch prevents them from being as relaxed as possible, thereby increasing the rate of muscle fatigue, which shortens the stretching interval and also limits the range of motion. Consistent performers of this type of stretch will recognize whether they are more or less flexible from a previous stretching session.
 What may not be remembered is the amount of force required to complete the stretch. A lower body muscle stretching machine which allows the user to apply the same amount of force to the stretch each time the stretch is attempted; and a machine which allows the user to stretch in a functional or leg scissoring movement would be of great benefit to exercise enthusiast, and athletes.
 On the other end of the physical performance spectrum are those individuals who must rehabilitate injured or diseased muscles. The muscle-stretching machine described herein is also designed to be a very beneficial piece of physical rehabilitation equipment. Those skilled in the art of physical therapy will readily see the advantages of their patients using a muscle-stretching machine, which allows the user to perform a functional stretch while using their own leg weight to complete the stretch. For example, if a patient was attempting to regain the use of the muscles in an injured leg, and part of the required rehabilitation called for stretching this machine would offer a significant assist. As the patient consistently performs their rehabilitation day after day using this machine they will be able to determine the length of their stride by reading the angle setting on the machine. It would allow the patient to compare their present results to the results recorded during previous stretching sessions. In this way the patient can easily see if they are improving, staying the same or declining with regards to the flexibility portion of their rehabilitation. Furthermore, a physical therapist would be able to review the patient's information to improve the rehabilitation process and monitor the progress of a number of patients.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present embodiment of the invention is an improved means for stretching the leg, abdominal, groin, and lower back muscles, which provides the user with flexibility feedback to the angle of the stretch. It consists of three subassemblies: Back Pad Subassembly, Pivot Plate Subassembly, and Roller Pad Subassembly
 BACK PAD SUBASSEMBLY--A rectangular, 4 ft long by 1.5 ft wide by 3 in thick back pad subassembly is used as the main part of the invention. The user side or the topside of the back pad is made out of a fabric covering placed over a compressible material. The bottom of the back pad is a fabric covered, solid, incompressible surface, which is rigid and strong enough to allow flat beams to fasten to it. The strength of the Back Pad is necessary to withstand weight from very heavy users. It must be strong enough and rigid enough to withstand any bending loads applied by the weight of the user plus the force applied by the user when the invention is used. There may be instances where one end of the Back Pad is raised off the floor by extending the legs at either end of the back bad so that the invention may be used at an incline or decline. Depending upon which end of the Back Pad is raised up the range of motion of the user is either increased or decreased. When used in this manner the Back Pad must not noticeably deflect. The Back Pad must be thick enough to allow the short foot beams to securely fasten to it. It must be also be light enough so that any user may easily carry it. The Back Pad must also be comfortable to use. As stated above, a vinyl covered foam pad is attached to the user side of the Back Pad. The foam is a lightweight, closed cell, low density, high compression set foam with the consistency and feel similar to seat cushion. The most important of these factors is compression set. It should rebound immediately from the indentations left by a user when they are finished using this invention.
 PIVOT PLATE SUBASSEMBLY--A half moon profile, flat, steel Pivot Plate is attached to the Back Pad. One end of the Pivot Plat is fastened to the bottom of the Short Side Beams, which in turn are fastened to the underside of the Back Pad. The Pivot Plate Subassembly is fastened to the long sides of the Back Pad near one end. Typically if a user laid flat on their back on the Back Pad their head and shoulders would be at the end of the Back Pad away from the Pivot Plate Subassembly. Their hips would be positioned so that they are in line with the centerline of the two half-moon shaped plates of the Pivot Plate Subassembly. The Pivot Plate Subassembly is constructed in such a way that it accepts two long beams. The beams are pinned to the outboard surfaces of the two Pivot Plates so that it may easily rotate from 0 to 180 degrees without any wobble or twist in the two beams A series of through holes are placed in the Pivot Plate so that the beams may be held stationary anywhere from 0 to 180 degrees in 5 degree increments. The pattern of through holes follows the same half moon shape of the Pivot Plate. Labels are adhered to the inboard surfaces of the two Pivot Plates, which identify the 37 holes from 0 degree through 180 degrees. A user of this invention may easily and quickly change the Beam angle. For example if a user wished to set the Beams at 75 degrees they would release the spring loaded quick release pin, by pushing in the two quick release levers, rotate the set of Beams until its hole and the holes in the Pivot Plate designated at the 75 degree setting are axially aligned and then let go of the quick release levers, allowing the pins to seat in the appropriate hole. The Beams are now rigidly held in place until changed by the user. It can be seen from this example that the Pivot Plate Subassembly must be a very strong, rigid subassembly, which is not susceptible to any high bending or impact loads from large and or aggressive users.
 ROLLER PAD SUBASSEMBLY--A steel tube accepts the roller pad. The roller pad has a rigid core, layered with foam, and a fabric cover, which cushions and supports the user's leg. The ends of the steel tube are fastened into tube beams. The tube beams are fastened to both ends of the steel tube. The Beams from the roller pad subassembly are inserted into the tube beams, which allow the Roller Pad Subassembly to slide in and out freely along any position on the Beams. The user releases a quick release lever attached to a pin fastened to the tube beam. When the levers are released the pins locks the tube plates to the Beams. When the lever is depressed the pin is released and it frees the Roller Pad Subassembly to freely move up and down the beams. As described previously for the Pivot Plate Subassembly, the captive end of the two long Beams are pinned to the Pivot Plate with a shoulder screw, which allows it to rotate, and then lock in place using a quick release lever and pin mechanism. As described previously the round steel tube accepts a vinyl covered foam roller pad. The roller pad accepts and cushions the back of the user's leg. The roller pad is centered and held in place along the length of steel tube by the use of two washers and two shaft collars.
 ADVANTAGES--The invention described herein is a machine used to stretch all the muscles at the same time in the user's stride. The back remains straight as the stretch is performed, which is a neutral position and is the same position it is in when walking or running. Therefore it can be said that this invention allows the user to perform a functional stretch. See any film clip of a professional runner sprinting in a race. Their spine remains almost vertical throughout the race. There is almost no forward or backward lean to the body of these elite athletes. The same must be true of a machine designed to improve the functional flexibility and functional motion of a users stride.
 The weight of one leg is all the force that is required to perform the stretch. Once the leg, which is not on the roller pad, touches the floor during a stretch, the maximum stride length is achieved for the angle setting of this invention. At this point the user increases the angle the roller pad makes with the floor so that the leg is again held back off the floor and increasing the stride length is again possible.
 As previously mentioned and detailed further, the closest an individual can come to accomplishing what this invention provides and to get a feel for how this machine works without actually using it is to lie on the floor flat on your back. Raise both legs and continue raising them so that your feet pass over face, and come close to touching the floor up over your head. Have an assistant firmly hold one leg stationary by grasping around one ankle. The other leg is allowed to come back down away from the held leg and towards where the feet were first raised off of the floor. You will feel the pull of the stretch in all muscles required for striding. If you do not come close to touching the floor with the free leg, then inform the assistant to allow the held leg to come down until it touches the floor. This is the maximum length of your stride. It is the starting point for increasing your stride length, which is easily done using this invention. It is important to keep your legs straight without any knee bend when performing this simulation.
 A very important design feature of this invention is it overcomes stretching fatigue. All work is being done on the muscles being stretched and all auxiliary non-essential muscle movements are eliminated or restrained. At the same time the spine does not flex or move. It is not uncommon to have a user stretch for five to ten minutes before relaxing when using this invention. When physical fitness instructors teach stretching they instruct their students to hold a stretch for five to fifteen seconds. What the limited number of beta users have learned using this invention, the longer a stretch is held, the more a user is able to stretch, and without the need to apply any additional force to the stretch.
 As described above, functional stretching is stretching the leg, groin, and abdominal muscles the same way they are used, which is using a leg scissoring motion. Paul Brown the legendary coach of the Cleveland Browns was well aware of the need for his players to do functional stretching. There is an old film clip of Paul Brown leading his team in calisthenics where he and the team kick one leg up as high it will go and then the other as high as it will go and repeating for both legs a number of times. However they probably derived more benefit from improved stamina and strength than they did from an improvement in flexibility when they did this exercise. But they were definitely onto something and it was a start. The design of this invention will allow the user to safely and effectively perform a functional stretch of their stride muscles because the stretch is performed the same the way the legs are used while running or walking, which is a leg scissoring motion.
 One of the main purposes of this invention is medical rehabilitation. Therefore the machine adjustments must be very easy to do. The Roller Pad Subassembly length and angle are very easy to adjust and will allow a user with minimal strength to make this adjustment. The back pad is designed so that it will accept users from four feet to seven feet tall. It will allow these users to position their center point of leg/hip joint near the center point on the Pivot Plate.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a plan view of a beginner user using the leg-stretching machine constructed in accordance with the invention.
 FIG. 2 is a plan view of an advanced user using the leg-stretching machine constructed in accordance with the invention.
 FIG. 3 is a perspective, top view of the stretching machine shown in FIGS. 1 & 2.
 FIG. 4 is a perspective, bottom view of the stretching machine shown in FIGS. 1 & 2.
 FIG. 5 is an exploded, perspective, side view of the back pad subassembly.
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the pivot plate subassembly showing half exploded and half assembled.
 FIG. 7 is a plan view of the inboard side of the pivot plate subassembly shown in FIG. 4, which shows the label details.
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the roller pad subassembly.
 FIG. 9 is a exploded perspective view of the roller pad subassembly shown in FIG. 6.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The following detailed description and the accompanying drawings are provided for the purpose of describing certain presently preferred embodiments of the invention only, and are not intended to limit the scope of the claimed invention in any way.
 As will be apparent from the following description of the operation of the stretching apparatus of this invention, a unique feature thereof is the triangulation of the stretching process for the user. The vertices of the triangle are located at (a) the pivot point of the user's joint, i.e. the hip pivot point, (b) the point where the beam is pinned on the pivot plate subassembly (0°-180°) and (c) the point on the user's leg resting on the roller pad. The three vertices form a triangle. The vertices located at (b) and (c) remain fixed once the settings on the machine are selected. The vertex located at the user's hip joint may slide up or down on the back pad as the user moves. This is only limited by length of the back pad and the user's leg length.
 Referring now to drawings, and initially to FIG. 1 shows a beginner user with the machine set at 45°. FIG. 1 shows an advanced user of the machine set at 135°. Notice that in each figure the user has the roller pad located behind the user's knee. It can be located anywhere from the user's ankle to his or her thigh. The location of the roller pad depends upon the preference of the user.
 Referring now to drawings, and initially to FIG. 3 and FIG. 4, there is depicted a muscle stretching machine 10, constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. As illustrated, the muscle stretching machine 10 comprises four subassemblies: back pad subassembly 100, pivot plate subassembly 200A, pivot plate subassembly 200B and roller pad subassembly 300. Subassemblies 200A and 200B are mirror images of each other.
 Referring now to FIG. 5, two of the three subassemblies of the stretching machine 10 are removed except for the pieces comprising the back pad subassembly 100. This will allow for a clear description of the items comprising the back pad subassembly 100. FIG. 3 shows a perspective, exploded view of the back pad subassembly 100. The back pad subassembly comprises the combination of a long flat back pad 101; three foot beams 102A, 102B, & 102C; six adjustable feet 108; seven screws 109; and seven washers 110. The back pad 101 has two distinct sides, top and bottom. The top side is a fabric covered, low density, compressible foam, designed to comfortably cushion the user. Whereas the bottom side is a fabric covered structural plate of sufficient strength to withstand loads from large, strong, and or aggressive users. The bottom side must also allow for the attachment of the foot beams, 102A, 102B, & 102C. The structural portion of the back pad 101 must be strong enough to withstand heavy loads when the threaded foot pads 108 and screws 109 are fastened to the underside of back pad 101, which raises it off of the floor. It must also withstand high bending loads applied to the back pad 101, when one end is raised off of the floor.
 Referring now to FIG. 6 for the sake of clarity the back pad subassembly 100, and roller pad subassembly 300 are not shown in FIG. 6. The two pivot plate subassemblies 200A and 200B are shown in FIG. 6. Pivot plate subassembly 200A is shown as a perspective, exploded view. Pivot plate subassembly 200B is shown as a perspective assembled view. The two subassemblies 200A and 200B are mirror images of each other. As can be seen from the exploded and assembled pivot plate subassemblies 200A and 200B, it is designed to attach to the underside of back pad subassembly 100. The outside beams 203A and 203B accept the roller pad subassembly 300. Now looking at pivot plate subassembly 200A, the exploded view, it is comprised of one pivot 201A, one inner beam 202A, one outer beam 203A, two pivot blocks 204A and 204B, two levers 205A and 205B, two pins 206A and 206B, one pointer 207A, one label 208A, one shoulder screw 220A, two pins 221A and 221B, four flat head screws 222A and 222B, two button head screws 223A, two screws 224A, and one stop 225A. The same parts and quantity of parts are used on pivot plate subassembly 200B and they are assembled as the mirror image to pivot plate subassembly 200A. The two labels 208A and 208B are required to identify the angle designation for each hole in pivots 201A and 201B. The inside surface of pivot plate 201B requires a label 208B that reads 0° to 180° from left to right. The inside surface of pivot plate 201A requires a label 208A that reads 0° to 180° from right to left. The shoulder screws 220A and 220B are used to attach the beams 202A and 202B to the pivots 201A and 201B, and allow them to freely pivot. The quick release pins 206A and 206C allows the user to lock the beams 202A and 202B in any one of 37 holes in the pivots 201A and 201B, spaced 5 degrees apart. The pivots 201A and 201B attach to the bottom of the back pad subassembly 100 using screws 224A and 224B. Pointers 207A and 207B attach to beams 202A and 202B and point to the degree selected as shown on labels 208A and 208B. Screws 223A and 223B are used to attach the pointers 207A and 207B to beams 202A and 202B respectively. Each of the four quick release pin assemblies, which attach to beams 202A and 202B using screws 222A, 222B, 222C, and 222D consist of pivot blocks 204A, 204B, 204C, and 204D; pins 206A, 206B, 206C, & 206D; levers 205A, 205B, 205C, and 205D; pins 221A, 221B, 221C, and 221D. Stops 225A and 225B prevent roller pad subassembly 300 and outside beams 203A and 203B from coming off the ends of inside beams 202A and 202B.
 Referring to FIG. 7 a plan view of the inboard side of pivot 201B is shown. The inboard side is the side of the pivot 201B, which makes contact with the back pad subassembly 100 when the pivot plate subassembly 200 is attached to the underside of back pad subassembly 100. For the sake of clarity the back pad subassembly 100 is removed from this view. Label 208B is adhered to the inboard surface of pivot 201B so that the 0° mark is aligned with the center of the lowest hole on the left, the 90° mark is aligned with the center of the top most hole, and the 180° mark is aligned with the lowest hole on the right. The holes on pivot 201B between two labeled marks, for example 0° and 10°, indicate a setting halfway between the two marks. In this case the value is 5°. FIG. 7 also shows how pivot 201B fastens to the underside of back pad subassembly 100 using screws 224A. The screws 222A are used to attach the pointer 207B to beam 202B. Shoulder screw 220B attaches beam 202B to the outboard surface of pivot 201B.
 Referring to FIG. 8 and FIG. 9 the fourth of the four subassemblies of the muscle stretching machine 10 is shown. For the sake of clarity the back pad subassembly 100 and the pivot plate subassemblies 200A & 200B are not shown. FIG. 8 shows the assembled view of the roller pad assembly 300. FIG. 9 shows the exploded isometric view of the roller pad assembly 300. As shown in FIG. 9 the roller pad subassembly 300 consists of the roller pad 301, tube 302, washers 310A and 310B, collars 311A and 311B, nuts 312A and 312B, and threaded rod 313. The tube 302 is inserted into the roller pad 301 and allows roller pad 301 to freely spin on tube 302. Roller pad 301 is held in place using washers 310A and 310B, and collars 311A and 311B. Each end of the tube 302 is fastened to the inside surfaces of outer beams 203A and 203B using nuts 312A & 312B and threaded rod 313.
 The roller pad 301 is similar in construction to the back pad 101 except for its shape. The roller pad 301 has two distinct surfaces, inside and outside. The outside, cylindrical surface is a fabric covered, low density, compressible foam, designed to comfortably cushion the user's leg. Whereas the inside surface is a structural tube of sufficient strength to withstand loads from large, strong, and or aggressive users. The rigid inside surface must allow it to be easily inserted onto the steel tube 302.
 In operation a first time user will need to determine their natural stride length measured in degrees as provided by this invention.
 After the user is sufficiently warmed up a good rule of thumb would be to set the angle the inside beams makes with the floor at 50° or 60°. Next the user sets the distance the roller pad subassembly is from the pivot plate subassembly so that a point on the back of the leg behind the knee is comfortably resting on the roller pad. The angle adjustments and the length adjustments are easily made using spring loaded, lever actuated, quick release pins. The quick release pins are easily set to any of the available settings on the pivot plate. This same type of quick release pin allows the roller pad subassembly to be positioned anywhere along the length of the inner beams. After warming up and adjusting the settings of the muscle stretching machine to the user's preference, the user then locates the center of rotation of their leg/hip pivot point. This is done very easily. While standing with the feet shoulder width apart the user will place the palm of their left hand over their left hip. Then slightly raise the heel of their left foot off the floor and pivot their left foot back and forth about the ball of their foot. They will feel movement in their left hip. This is the approximate center of rotation of their leg/hip pivot point. The user places their left index finger on this point and keeps it there. Then the user reclines on the back pad subassembly so that the location of their leg/hip pivot point is placed approximately at the center of rotation of the pivot plate subassembly. Or, the user positions this point to one side of the center of rotation of the pivot plate subassembly and the stretching triangle is formed. As previously stated and repeated here for convenience the points of the stretching triangle consist of the center point of rotation of the leg hip pivot point, the center of rotation of the pivot plate subassembly, and the point on the back of the user's leg in contact with the roller pad subassembly.
 The user then lies all the way down and places the back of one leg on the roller pad and lets the other leg hang down. Both legs are kept as straight as possible. If the hanging leg easily touches the floor then the maximum stride length is yet to be reached. If the hanging leg is a large distance from the floor then the maximum stride length has been exceeded by the settings on the machine and it still must be determined by the user. In both cases the stretching machine is adjusted until the leg is held just off of the floor, which is then determined to be just greater than the maximum stride length of the user. Once the maximum stride length is known the machine settings are now set and the leg is held a short distance off of the floor, which exceeds the user's maximum stride length. The user then lets the weight of the hanging leg be the force used to stretch all the muscles in their stride. There is a tremendous advantage as previously described in stretching in this manner. The back bone remains in a straight or neutral position, auxiliary muscle movements are minimized thereby minimizing fatigue, and the muscles are stretched in functional or leg scissoring motion. The leg scissoring motion is the same motion used for walking or running. It is not uncommon for a user to easily stretch for ten or fifteen minutes when using this muscle stretching machine because it is used in a relaxed state. Once the user has stretched for an extended amount of time the leg positions are switched and the stretch is continued.
 A very beneficial function of this machine is to provide the capability to do dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is defined as the inventions ability to emulate the tensile and compressive loads the muscles will see while walking or running. All the user has to do to perform dynamic stretching is either move up or down on the back pad so that their leg/hip pivot point moves away from the center of rotation of the pivot plate. After making this move the user then stretches as described before. Now when the user stretches the pull of the stretch will move up or down the leg depending upon which direction the user moved away from the center of rotation of the pivot plate subassembly thereby completing a dynamic stretch.
 Side stretches are also possible when using this invention. To do a side stretch the user lies on their side and puts the side of their leg just above the ankle onto the roller pad. The other leg is allowed to hang freely without coming in contact with the floor.
 A bent leg stretch where the user lays flat on their back is also possible. As described previously the user lays flat on their back and one leg is placed on the roller pad and the other leg is allowed to hang freely without touching the floor. But in this case the roller pad is placed behind the knee and instead of keeping the leg straight the leg is allowed to bend. This is very similar to one of the positions of the leg when running. The user is now able to perform a functional stretch, which stretching the muscles of the leg in the same position they are used while walking or running.
Patent applications by Denis E. Burek, Cumming, GA US
Patent applications in class SUPPORT FOR ENTIRE BODY OF USER (E.G., BENCH, SLANT BOARD, ETC.)
Patent applications in all subclasses SUPPORT FOR ENTIRE BODY OF USER (E.G., BENCH, SLANT BOARD, ETC.)