Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both a stretch and a contraction of the muscle group being targeted. Commonly used in conjunction with Sports Massage, and Medical Massage applications.
PNF or “stretch and contra-stretch” was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation, and to that effect it is very effective. It is also excellent for targeting specific muscle groups, and as well as increasing flexibility, it also improves muscular strength.
Certain precautions need to be taken while performing PNF stretches as they can put added stress on the targeted muscle group.
To help reduce risk, warming up prior the muscle group, for stretching does a number of beneficial things, but primarily it prepares the body and mind for more strenuous activity. One of the ways it achieves this is by helping to increase the body’s core temperature while also increasing the body’s muscle temperature. This is essential to ensure the maximum benefit is gained.
The process of performing a PNF stretch involves the following. The muscle group to be stretched is positioned so that the muscles are stretched and under tension. The individual then contracts the stretched muscle group for 5 – 6 seconds while a partner, or immovable object, applies sufficient resistance to inhibit movement. Please note; the effort of contraction should be relevant to the level of conditioning.
PNF Stretching is performed on the contracted muscle group, it is first warmed up, and relaxed, then a controlled isometric stretch is applied for about 20 to 30 seconds. The muscle group is then allowed 30 seconds to recover and the process is repeated 2 – 4 times.
Although there are conflicting responses to the question of how long should I contract the muscle group for and how long should I rest for between each stretch, I believe (through class room study, research material and personal experience) that the above timing recommendations provide the maximum benefits from PNF stretching.
Claude Barrett, LMT, CST
License Number mt004572.
Claude is a Member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP)); Medallion Member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners (IAHP); Certified Upledger Institute CranioSacral Therapist and an Graduate in Advanced Clinical and Holistic Applications of Massage Therapy, from the Institute of Natural Healing Science, (INHS).
Please call for information and appointments: Claude 214 232-5278
Offices are located in Garland and in Rockwall, Texas.
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