PNF Stretching

Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or as we are going to use for the rest of this article PNF!

PNF is technically a method of static and passive stretching while including isometric contractions of the muscle, wow that’s a lot of words, lets break that down…

Person A is led on their back and person B is pushing the leg up and back, Person B will apply force to stretch person A, once at the point of tension we would hold this passive stretch for 10-15 seconds, then release the stretch slightly before reapplying the force with an increase stretch (static). Control of breathing can greatly assist these stretches when additional static stretching force is applied.

Currently PNF stretching is considered one of the most effective ways of increasing static/passive flexibility and range of motion for joints.

We can perform 3-5 sets of PNF stretching, however a rest period of 20-30 seconds is recommended between sets. It should be noted that there is currently some studies which suggest that additional sets may not add to effectiveness in stretching sessions.

The 2 most common types of PNF stretching are:

  • Hold – Relax – used in the example above, this is passively stretching the muscle, holding for 10-15 seconds before slightly releasing the tension, then reapplying and increasing the stretch.
  • Hold – relax – Contract – the muscle is passively stretched for 10-15 seconds, followed by the person being stretched forcing in the opposite direction, in the case of a leg raise pushing against the partners had for 10-15 seconds, followed by contraction of the original muscle.

PNF stretching should be undertaken with caution, whilst its origins are in the field of rehabilitation there is an enhanced risk of injury, particularly as the partner is applying the external force.

If you have any questions about stretching be sure to ask a Member of Team SF –