Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a type of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of a muscle group. PNF stretching is also excellent method for targeting specific muscle groups, and as well as increasing flexibility, and range of motion (ROM).
Warning! To help reduce a risk of injury, a proper warm-up is essential to ensure the maximum benefit is gained from your stretching.
PNF consists of stretching a muscle group passively, contracting the muscle group isometrically (without movement) while in a stretched position, relaxing the muscle group and finally increasing the stretch passively. It’s easier to imagine with an example…
1. Sit on the floor with your legs in a v-shape. Your partner then places their feet on your ankles with both knees bent and grips your arms or hands. Please take extra care to ensure that no pressure is being place on the legs anywhere near the knee joints. You should feel a very comfortable stretch at this point. Be careful – do not overstretch!
2. Remember to keep your back straight, while your partner slowly straightens their knees in order to push your ankles further apart until the maximum ROM is achieved. This is a very small movement.
3. Once in this position, push your ankles back to the centre line, pressing against your partner’s legs in the process, for a period of about 10 to 15 seconds. Than, relax for six seconds before bending forward from the hip as far as possible with the assistance of you partner, remembering to keep the back flat. This position should be held for 10 to 15 seconds before returning slowly to upright position and relaxing.
4. Your partner should then attempt to move your legs still further apart before repeating the stretch. Repeat this technique up to four times, taking care not to exceed your maximum range of motion.
Special Note: PNF stretching is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.