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History & Development of the Springzback

Clk2Hm This page was assembled for those of you that may be interested in learning how these unique spring-loading back braces were developed. It should help give a better understanding of the challenges and accomplishments throughout the history & development of this revolutionary approach to lower back strain relief.

Necessity was the Mother of this Invention

Back Brace for Lifting -Invention ofAs a mechanic, I often experienced back pain from my extended periods of hanging over the fronts of cars. Over time this problem got worse as it required less and less bending time to bring-on the pain.

As I struggled with my back pain I would often imagine a device that I could wear that could somehow provide me with an adjustable chest engagement to prop, or brace, my upper body.

I recognized that anytime I was able to lean onto something, such as a fender, my back could relax and feel fine, but as soon as I had to re-engage my lower back muscles to support my upper body’s weight, the pain in my lower back would quickly return.

Over the years this problem grew worse, it finally got to the point where it forced me to change careers, and eventually drove me to create something that truly worked.

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Could I Make an Effective & User Friendly Back Brace?

After years of avoiding bending and lifting situations, my back pain occurrences diminished, but about ten years later they started up again. After years of searching for the solution I could never find, I finally decided it was time to put some real thought and effort into creating my envisioned upper body back brace.

From my very first conceptions of such a device, I imagined it as a spring-loading back brace that could adjustably support my upper body as I leaned forward. It would function close to my body in a compact and lightweight form, but as for the exact way to accomplish this, well, that part was always the hurdle I couldn’t quite clear.

At first I tried strapping flexible fiberglass rods to the backs of my legs and attached their upper ends to a strap around my chest, this helped, but walking proved awkward with this method, as was a means of adjusting it. But the concept did offer some back relief while bent over, but this didn’t seem to be the direction to proceed with.  (to continue, click Part 2 tab)
I then shifted to a concept of a horizontal tube belted across my butt with two pivoting arms that reached down and attached around my legs via straps. These arms engaged with torsion springs that anchored on a central vertical upright shaft that attached to another strap (harness) that encircled my chest. Again, this somewhat worked, but it was very crude and impractical; I pondered on the improvements I still needed to make.

I concluded that it was important for my device to allow unencumbered leg movements, preferably even while bending. Better yet, to have a mechanism that could evenly divide the transferred load to my legs, regardless of their positions, even during walking. At one point I envisioned using the principles of a car’s rear differential. I considered using a spider and side gear arrangement to join the two separate leg shafts, but decided that it would make it too large, heavy and elaborate to build.

It just seemed like there should be a simpler solution. At a loss for any better ideas, I temporarily took a break from it, but this problem continued to fester in the back of my mind. Then a couple of years later, seemingly out of nowhere, a completely new concept for the differential mechanism popped into my head that utilized oppositely threaded shafts.

It seemed so obvious that I thought that there had to be a catch that I just wasn’t realizing. Once again I began banging-out a crude prototype to test the theory; the theory proved valid and I was off to developing my dream back support brace once again. This time, before I let myself get too involved in further developments, I sat down and created a list of all the criteria I felt necessary to fulfill.
Of course the primary requirement was that my device had to effectively prevent back strain, but I believed satisfying a few other details was also crucial to warranting any further investment into this project. The following is the list of criteria that I considered to be critically important:
  • Effectively prevent back strain
  • Have a compressive resistance rather than simply a stop
  • Provide for a full bending range of motion
  • Have a quick and easy means of adjusting the spring loading engagement
  • Allow normal and necessary body movements (especially the legs)
  • Quickly attach and detach from one’s body in a simple fashion
  • Closely follow the body’s contour without bulky or grossly protruding parts
  • Be adjustable to fit different sized and proportioned people
  • Be unique enough to warrant Patent protection
  • Be comfortable, lightweight, durable, and affordable
After completing my list, it was time to search for existing patents to make sure I wasn’t building something that someone already invented. This search took hundreds of hours. I was quite surprised at the number of patents that existed, each attempting to do what I was! I finally concluded that my design was unique and improved from everything I uncovered. So it was back to the shop to refine the design and work out any problems.

Since then, I had built and improved numerous prototypes. At one point I realized that it was better to design this to be worn in front rather than in back. This reduced its size as well as eliminated the need for straps that were formerly necessary to go around the legs and chest. Now it became even simpler and quicker to put on and take off.

Finally A Back Brace That Works

Finally one day after a heavy snowfall, I decided to strap on my latest prototype and go shovel snow like most people would. You see, years ago I had to learn how to shovel differently, in a fashion that reduced the strain put on my back, but it made for very slow shoveling. So this time I strapped on my device, leaned forward, and started shoveling snow as if there wasn’t anything wrong with my back.

For the first time since I was a kid, I had to take a break because my arms (not my back) needed a rest. It definitely proved to be effective, and as most of the device was hidden under my coat, neither of my two neighbors that I spoke with seemed to notice anything (at least they never asked or made a comment).

At this point my confidence level skyrocketed, I felt that my refinements had finally satisfied my entire list of criteria. My device proved very effective at preventing back strain and it followed my body contour close enough to conceal most of it under a jacket. It is more comfortable and much cooler in the heat than wearing a back-belt.

The device features a spring-loading mechanism with a side knob for quick and easy adjustment of where its tension begins to activate. All normal body movements are allowed while wearing this device; I even went inline skating while wearing it.

Finally it was time to focus on drafting a patent application. I enlisted the talents of my younger brother, Martin, the only bonafide engineer in the family. He created solid models on CAD software of all the components. The CAD program would then allow him to create a virtual assembly. From there he was able to create drawings for the patent application.
By the time Martin was finished with what I asked him to do, he caught my vision of this project and began staying up late pouring his time and expertise into playing around with alternative means of fabricating the components. Between his skills on the CAD and his knowledge of the different manufacturing methods, the Springzback began to evolve again. While the basics remained the same, Martin helped transform my prototype into something much more polished. By February, 2007, my application was filed.

I now faced a huge initial investment to build these, but I would have a professional looking product vs. something that looked homemade. I took a huge leap of faith and refinanced my home rather than taking on outside investors. I decided to just go for it without any second-guessing its marketability.

The molds and special tooling were built – several components were made through plastic injection molding, some from extruded aluminum, and others machined. This was very expensive for small production, but I ended up with a much more polished product as opposed to rivets and welds. This is now a high quality product with all of its major components being made right here in the USA.

I chose the name Springzback because it is a spring-loading device that not only holds your leaning upper body, but its spring tension helps raise your upper body back to its upright position. It “springs” you back!
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Copyright © 2008–2016 Springzback.com by Babcock Innovations, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.  Springzback® is a registered
trade name of a patented back brace device for relieving back strain while engaged in forward leaning, bending or lifting.