T Nation

PNF Stretching


I just read the weekly T-Nation newsletter in my email, and was puzzled by the following bit of advice:

"Well, what happens if you contract the hams as you stretch? Easy, you stretch the tendon, and you should never attempt to stretch either tendons (you'll decrease speed and power because they aren't supposed to lengthen) or ligaments (they can tear when stretched beyond 6% of their normal length)."

I thought PNF stretching was essentially contracting the muscle being stretched? Have I been doing it wrongly all this time? It seems to have worked great in improving my flexibility though, and I have never been injured from stretching (yet).

Btw a quick search shows that the advice came from this article:


ya pnf involves contracting isometrically the muscle you want to stretch, and then taking advantage of the inhibition of this muscle to allow for greater stretch.

it basically becomes an "overcoming" isometric; you are trying to overcome the resistance but cant.. any time you do this, it will definitely elongate the tendons to some extent, as the muscles become very stiff and pull on the tendons they comply.. tendons were meant to comply this way, so it wouldnt be a problem.. tendons are springs, and springs are meant to stretch.

it's worse to stretch passively to such extremes that it places a "passive" stretch on the tendons.. this is where they experience some microtearing.

pnf also makes you strong.. pnf #1 !!#!@#$ :D:D:D:D:



Just to clarify a bit: PNF stretching involves (1) a stretch, then (2) a static contraction of that stretched muscle, then (3) complete relaxation of that muscle to allow a greater stretch.

Then you usually repeat the process until you're tapped out. You DO NOT try to lengthen a contracted muscle.


Reflex inhibition - isometric contraction followed by a passive stretch. The contraction manipulates neural impulses by sensing increasing tension which causes the muscle to be less excited, allowing more stretch.

There is also reciprocal inhibition where a person stretches a muscle and contracts the opposite muscle (hams and quads). The contraction of the opposite muscle decreases excitability of the muscle you want to stretch.


SO, to clarify, you do NOT stretch while contracting the muscle, but after the contraction?


AFAIK it works like this.... partner stretches muscle, you try to extend/push back their hand, you release and they press the stretch further. The initial stretch isn't a full stretch, just a gentle one.

Is that right?


yup that would fall into danjo's "reflex inhibition" explanation.

you can push back using anywhere from 2-30 seconds tension..

the longer you push the more that muscle turns into jello when you stretch it.



can anyone recomend a site or something that shows a thourough PNF routine that you could do by yourself? thanks


i cant find any on youtube.. but its the same as in this video, but you just use a ROPE (edit).. calf/quad/hamstring can be done easily with it.



You don't necessarily need a partner. You can make it "closed-chain" by contracting against the floor or wall, and then intensifying the stretch by moving your body. So, for example, you might sink into a high side split, then squeeze the ground between your feet, then sink into a deeper split, then squeeze the floor again, etc.

Pavel's "Forced Relaxation," and "Relax into Stretch" both describe PNF techniques.


Reciprocal inhibition is very easy to do by yourself. If you are doing a basic static stretching routine, contract the opposing muscle. Example, if stretching your hamstrings --> Tighten your quad.


Yeah, if anyone wants to learn more about integrating PNF and reciprocal inhibition stretching methods, look into CRAC stretching.


I've got this exercise as part of a hamstring rehab program found through an article. Can anyone explain what is meant by :"Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation trunk pull-downs with Thera-Band"?


Chopping. The T-band is attached to something high so you have to reach over head to grab it with both hands. Stand to one side as if you were holding and ax and pull your hands and torso down as if you were trying to touch your opposite foot. It's to get you moving in diagonal patterns.

That's the cliff notes version.


Goto trick tutorials dot com and read up on isometric stretching. Best way to passive stretch if you want quick results!!!!