PNF Program


I was wondering if any one could explain in common language, how the PNF procedure is used within a program. Is it just a contraction followed by a stretch, or are there other variables which need to be manipulated?


To be safe, true Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) should only be used by an allied health care provider (PT, ATC, Sports Med Physician, Chiropracter…etc). Effectiveness of these techniques are dependant on the practicians cues and the patients response in a proper manor. However it is possible to use a basic PNF exercise without a partner to increase limb range of motion and muscle flexibility. A “Contract-Relax” technique is one of the safest and most common. An example of the hamstring would be as follows:

  1. Lying prone with back, butt, and one leg complete flat to ground
  2. Use pre-fabricated stretching strap or long towel
  3. Strap should be around ankle with two longer ends in each hand
  4. With a strait leg pull towards you raising the leg into a static stretch. 5. Hold this static stretch at a point of tightness, but not extreme pain, for 10 seconds
  5. Next perform an isometric contraction of the hamstrings for 10 seconds (due to your strap resitance your leg should not move)
  6. Follow up with a second bout of static stretch for 10 second
  7. You should find that each time you cycle through your static stretch ROM will be increased
  8. Repeat for 5-10 cont. cycles per limb.

PNF Program is really entirely different than the isometric stretching technique commonly referred to as PNF. But I digress. For PNF stretching you get into a stretch. The muscle contracts to keep from stretching any more right? So you isometrically contract the muscle being stretched to fatigue the fast twitch fibers which are preventing you from going deeper into the stretch. You then MUST RELAX and fall into a deeper stretch. Rinse repeat. Example: Hip Flexor Stretch. Get into a hip flexor stretch. Now try to drive your knee through the floor for 5 seconds. Then take a deep breath, exhale and fall into a deeper stretch.