Russian flexibility training is surrounded by a hard core atmosphere. It's harsh and tough; if you don't want to work hard, how do you expect to get strong?
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In America, you stretch your body.
In Soviet Russia, your body stretches you.
Recently, the formerly secret techniques from the old Eastern Bloc have received a lot of attention.
Partially from the outstanding performance of some Soviet athletes, and partially from the air of exotic and secret potential surrounding them.
But the techniques are useful, practical, and above all - available. They are now used more widely because they work, and the revolutions of Eastern Europe have brought them to a wider audience who can use them.
Aside from where they originated, Russian stretching and flexibility training focuses on improving flexibility fast. The focus is on how to increase flexibility during each and every training session. Sometimes through almost brutal means.
Also, a component of Russian stretching techniques is marketing the exotic atmosphere that surrounds them. The techniques are effective, but rarely do the techniques only exist in the hands of an elite group of soviet sportsmen.
After doing research, only one guy is giving good Russian stretching info: Pavel Tsatsouline. He is the main guy publicizing Russian stretching ideas around the world.
He has so far written 3 books on the subject, focusing on giving quality flexibility information to regular people. His first book, and possibly his best known, is Beyond Stretching: Russian Flexibility Breakthroughs.
He has done a great job bringing attention to these techniques and allowing normal people a chance to use them. As well as destroying many prevalent myths and misconceptions about flexibility.
Many Russian stretching exercises are similar to ones you might be familiar with if you already know a lot about stretching. The same basic principles of stretching the human body apply to everyone.
In his books, Pavel goes over Russian ballistic stretches for dynamic flexibility, plyometric training for strength in movement, isometric flexibility training, PNF stretches, breathing exercises, and other techniques. Many of these are, if not well known, generally accepted methods of stretching.
But the Russian stretching techniques usually have a little extra twist to them.
And that twist can help you get the most out of your stretching. Or add an extra few inches to the stretches that you're doing.
Here are examples of just 2 of the many techniques that Pavel introduces in his books...
This is a special breathing and muscle contraction method that will get you more distance on your stretches. Make sure not to hyperventilate when you do it.
The Russian flexibility techniques described above are very helpful. Perhaps not as *secret* as you expected, but definitely pragmatic.
If you want a complete take on Russian stretching and flexibility techniques, check out Pavel's books Beyond Stretching: Russian Flexibility Breakthroughs, Relax into Stretch, or Super Joints. In themselves they cover the range of information about how to increase flexibility Russian style.
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1. Tsatsouline, Pavel. 2001. Relax Into Stretch: Instant Flexibility Through Mastering Muscle Tension. St. Paul, MN: Dragon Door Publications. Pp. 31-33.
2. Ibid. Pp. 37-38.
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