There are many effective pnf techniques that athletes and rehabilitation patients can use to help them acquire greater flexibility and range of motion (ROM).
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, or pnf stretching for short, is a highly effective method that allows those with even the tightest muscles to experience relief.
Regardless of whether you are an athlete, a rehabilitation patient, or just someone suffering from very tight muscles, then using pnf techniques may be all you’ll need to increase your well-being and athletic performance.
To best utilize pnf techniques you should ensure that it’s done by a professional or at least by someone who is experienced in pnf stretching. This is merely a safety precaution as pnf stretching can be potentially dangerous if done incorrectly.
The first passive portion of pnf techniques
Pnf stretching starts off with the individual lengthening their targeted muscle passively (with no muscle contraction). The limb should be moved by their trainer or healthcare provider.
Some pnf techniques to keep in mind during this initial portion is stay consciously aware of the muscle being lengthened. You want to try very hard not to contract the muscle at all (e.g. hamstring, shoulder, abductors, etc.).
This is essential due to the fact that in this first passive portion of pnf stretching we want to properly activate the targeted muscle’s muscle spindles. This is the main goal here.
The contraction portion of pnf techniques
Some other vital pnf techniques are to only contract the muscle being stretched by about 10%. So, you’ll only want to slightly contract your muscle against the resistance of your trainer.
It’s very important to only contract the muscle slightly as you want to try and activate the golgi tendon organ. This is what will allow your muscles to experience autogenic inhibition.
Contracting too lightly will not fully activate the golgi tendon organ. So, it’s imperative to try and contract the targeted muscle with enough force.
The second passive portion of pnf techniques
This is when autogenic inhibition occurs. This is where the more detailed pnf techniques occur. Such pnf techniques include not contracting at all during the second passive stretch, as well as ensuring that you overtly communicate with your trainer.
Communication is extremely important during this portion of pnf stretching because it’s possible to stretch the muscle too far and cause a muscle tear.
See, this is where damage can be done if not executed correctly. During autogenic inhibition, the muscle spindle’s have less influence over stretch inhibition.
This is what allows the muscle to be stretched far beyond what it normally could be stretched without exercising such pnf techniques.
Final thoughts on why pnf techniques are so effective
As you can see, pnf stretching is a highly effective training method that’s for individuals who suffer from very tight muscles. Whether you’re an athlete, a rehabilitation patient, or just an individual with tight muscles, you should definitely try out pnf stretching, as well as aspire to become adept at the many pnf techniques available to you.
This will give you the best chance of attaining more flexibility and ROM in your muscles.