The Human Spring Approach – Developed From Studying Yuri Verkhoshansky Plyometrics
By: Dr James Stoxen DC
Presented At: The 2nd Annual Bangkok Congress On Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine
September 4, 2010
In the late eighties, as part of my quest to discover the secrets to human performance, I made numerous trips to eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. There, I served as the doctor for the US Powerlifting Team, the APF medical commission chairman, and Ed Coan’s personal chiropractor from 1986 – 1992, when he broke so many world records.
In 1987, when I was 25 years old, I was invited by Ernie Frantz as the team doctor for the first USA vs USSR powerlifting championships. It was located in the former communist Soviet Union in Moscow and Leningrad, through AICEP and the auspices of the Soviet Sports Committee.
During this historic trip I made contact with Dr. Ed Enos, Director of Athletics at Concordia University and Director of AICEP (Association International Cultural Exchange Programs). I suggested that we develop a course in the study of sports training and sports medicine in the Soviet Union with their top experts.
I organized the first sports medicine course with the help of Dr. Ed Enos of Concordia University in Montreal and the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), at the famed National Institute of Physical Culture and Sports Sciences in Moscow.
After much negotiation with the Soviet Sports Committee, we developed a program for sports medicine at the National Institute of Physical Culture and Sports Sciences in Moscow, USSR. It was called REHAB 670, Soviet Sports at the National Institute of Physical Culture and Sports Sciences. In 1989, 70 doctors and
experts attended my course.
It was the first sports medicine course for western doctors ever organized in the former Soviet Union.
Dr Enos asked me who in the Soviet Union I wanted to lecture for our group.
My main objective for visiting Russia was to learn the secrets to the treatment and training used by the Soviets to fine-tune the human body. Something had to be allowing them to produce so many champions.
I had read over 100 journals written by Russian doctors and trainers at that time and because I was the organizer and director of the course, I was able to select the experts who lectured. I decided to focus our studies on the biomechanics of sports movement in hopes of uncovering some of the secrets to human performance.
The key lecturer I chose was Yuri Verkhoshansky, the founder of modern human spring training, called plyometrics. His teachings played a major role in my research and uncovering the secrets to elite level human performance.
I also requested that the top coaches and athletes give presentations about their experience, but there were not enough slots. So we hired them as our guides and security for the conference delegates. I wanted to have them around so I could learn every secret of training they had.
This is where I met Sultan Rachmanov, David Rigert, Victor Shankin, and of course the father of modern plyometrics, Yuri Verkhoshansky. I even beat David Rigert 3 times in an armwrestling competition that following year, in a spirited battle on the top floor of the Sports Hotel in Moscow. What a memory!
I remember Dr Enos was very surprised that I knew so many of the experts and put together a very advanced curriculum for the Russian scientists and trainers to present.
I had read every Soviet Sports Review translated by Dr. Michael Yessis from the 60’s, cover to cover. Also, I had reviewed extensive literature on Russian training and read hundreds of books as background material for this information. In the index I have listed the best resources for further study on this subject.
It wasn’t until 1975 when the study of the spring training of plyometrics came to the United States. Then, we only got some pieces of it. We made mistakes and people got hurt because they didn’t know what they were doing. Finally, as the study of extreme mechanisms of the body has transformed to universities and colleges–top professors, trainers, and athletes have defined the spring mechanisms of the body.
Modern organized plyometric training was first developed by the Soviets, who used it in the late 1960’s to develop a new training approach called ‘jump training’, ‘spring training’ or as it was later named, plyometrics. You know the results. They broke most of the records and took most of the gold medals.
Plyometric exercises consist of fast, powerful movements performed in rapid sequence. The intent of plyometric training was (and still is) to develop the elastic recoil within the body (the human spring mechanism) by employing high impact training drills that enhance the effects of traditional resistance exercises. The result is improved sports performance. If you happened to have been following international sporting events in the eighties and nineties, you probably recall that the Russians dominated the world in most strength and speed sports.
Now you know why.
In those days, plyometrics were new on the sports training scene, or at least new to the world outside the Soviet Union. When it was introduced in the United States in 1975, there was some controversy in regard of its safety. We made mistakes and people got hurt because American trainers and coaches didn’t fully understand this new form of training.
Fortunately, after years of research and further study, plyometric training has made its way into every university, college, and top professional teams — touted by top professors, trainers, and athletes as the most advanced training approach ever developed. Today, it is a popular and safe method of strength training for athletes, non-athletes, and even children.
Important Questions I Kept Asking Myself
If plyometrics or spring training develops a stronger spring, giving athletes more speed, quickness, balance, coordination agility, and efficiency then — are reduced performance levels, loss of balance, poor coordination, less agility and an overall weakened performance the result of weakened human spring strength?
If the spring mechanism serves as a buffer between joints, protecting the body from injuries and allowing for stress- and strain-free motion, then could it be that the reason some patients have injuries that won’t heal is because they have a locked spring mechanism?
If Spring strength is the secret to optimum performance then is the loss of human spring the secret to the decline of health?
If spring defines our youth does a loss of the spring define aging?
If we can restore the spring to the step can we then restore our youth?
It took two decades for me to find the answers to these and other mysteries of human performance.
Keep reading these blogs and going through the video tutorials to learn how important the principles of plyometrics are to the understanding of how the human spring approach was developed and why I feel this approach must replace the current standard of care.
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