Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is a type of muscle stretching usually done with a partner, it is very effective at helping you get flexibility in areas that are prone to excessive tightness like the hamstrings. As always I don’t want to get incredibly technical, being the person between you and the complicated stuff I like to make things as simple as possible so I will explain the basics and why this particular stretch could be helpful to you and how to apply it to your workouts.

Being the clever thing that your body is, it always has your preservation in mind. Most of the time this is a good thing but for the fitness conscious it sometimes is a barrier. For instance if you are on a heavy diet, your body realizes this and starts to work out ways to save you from starving to death, as a result it starts to convert more of your food to fat! clever but annoying if your trying to get lean. However as with everything there are ways around this, with regards to diet its all about sensible calorie calorie reduction over time so your body has time to adjust. When it comes to stretching your body also has a clever little trick up its sleeve. When a muscle is stretched beyond its comfortable limits your body picks up on this and your brain assumes that it is going to snap, the muscle has an instant reflex to contract and prevent you from stretching it much further. With Proprioceptive Neuromusclular Facilitation you are essentially tricking this system into turning off briefly and allowing the area to be stretched a little further.

There are a several  ways of doing this so I will offer you the easiest and most applyable and if you want any more information please do not hesitate to contact me.

How to PNF stretch 

Hold-Relax : This stretch is based on a lying down hamstring stretch performed with a partner. 

  • A trainer or partner moves the persons extended leg to a point of mild discomfort. This passive stretch is held for 10 seconds.
  • On instruction, the person isometrically contracts the hamstrings by pushing their extended leg against their partner’s hand. The partner should apply just enough force so that the leg remains static. This is the ‘hold’ phase and lasts for 6 seconds.
  • The person is then instructed to ‘relax’ and the partner completes a second passive stretch held for 30 seconds. The persons extended leg should move further than before (greater hip flexion) due to autogenic inhibition activated in the hamstrings.

So why not try this in the gym today with your training partner, flexibility is a key component to your training routine and without it your technique won’t be great, and being that technique goes above everything in the gym its very important to pay attention to this.