Could pravilo become the new Pilates? Ancient Russian fitness training method used by athletes for recovery is becoming popular online (but it looks like medieval torture!)

An ancient Russian exercise likened to ‘medieval torture’ is growing in popularity after clips of the technique were shared online.

Called pravilo, the technique sees a person tied up by each limb and stretched. 

The technique was developed for soldiers heading into war thousands of years ago  – but is still popular in Russia and Slavic countries today.

Clips of athletes lying spread eagle and helped by by a rope contraption  are now gaining traction online.

Users lie spread out for as little or as long as they want to, with short bursts lasting 15-30 seconds or longer 1-2 minute holds.

A woman posing gleefully into the camera as she hangs on tightly in the pravilo position

A man held up by the pravilo contraption, which increases blood flow and strengthens limbs

A man held up by the pravilo contraption, which increases blood flow and strengthens limbs

This uncomfortable pose is meant to strengthen the internal framework of joints, tendons, and ligaments.

But pravilo doesn’t just boast physical benefits, users can also expect to see an improvement in mental clarity and get better working under stress.

This is because pravilo increases blood flow, making the body more agile and the mind more calm.

Many pravilo enthusiasts claim the practise makes them feel better all over, as well as boosting their athletic performance.

The odd combination of exercises varies trainer to trainer but usually focus on bodyweight exercises, flexibility drills, and functional movements.  

Pravilo is thought to be so effective because the ancient Russians who used the method in its early days did it with the intention of being a well-rounded and capable warrior. 

Exercise methods common in the west like deadlifting, squatting and bench presses lead to the joints being compressed, so the body is building strength in compression.

However, with pravilo, the continued pose means the joints, spine and legs are being pulled, in a way that allows users to build strength in the tendons and ligaments.

A female fitness enthusiast using the ancient pravilo technique which contorts the body in what looks to be a very uncomfortable position

A female fitness enthusiast using the ancient pravilo technique which contorts the body in what looks to be a very uncomfortable position

So could pravilo become the latest fitness trend?

While it’s popular in the Slavic world, there are only a few studios in the UK and US.

But judging by the popularity of Pilates, it would well come to the UK in the future.

Pilates is  training method that aims to create a strong, functional body by reducing muscle imbalances and increasing core strength. 

Created by Joseph Pilates as a way of building strength in prisoners of war, it is incredibly powerful, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need Pilates in their daily life.’

The regime was originally meant for prisoners of war to maintain healthy bodies while incarcerated.

It has since transformed into an everyday ‘It Girl’ routine – and it’s also focused on spinal alignment and the tiny muscles that support your musculoskeletal system.

Professionals swear by Pilates as a low-intensity form to kick-start weight loss and body-sculpting journeys, with some ‘Strong Pilates’ classes promising to help you burn 800 calories per session.

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