What is PNF
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF is a type of flexibility therapy. It is based on the principles of functional human anatomy and neurophysiology, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation uses proprioceptive input to improve muscle flexibility and strength. Proprioceptors are sensory nerve-ending in muscles, tendons, and joints. They provide a sense of the body’s position by responding to stimuli from within the body. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is built on a series of exercises that stretch stiff or painful muscles in the body.
How does PNF work?
Over the years, bad postural and movement patterns can put chronic strain on the muscles, leading to soreness, stress and injury. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation makes the patient aware of these hazardous patterns and teaches them how to correct these patterns. This newfound awareness also helps the patient avoid exerting unnecessary strain on the muscles and limbs when carrying out any physical activity. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation achieves this by teaching a series of stretching exercises that the patient can adapt into their everyday movements. These exercises combine muscle contraction and relaxation with passive and partner-assisted stretching.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is also used as a rehabilitative therapy to improve the flexibility, strength, and range of motion, of a damaged or stiff muscle. It is also used to treat lower back, neck and shoulder pain associated with poor posture. During these therapy sessions the patient is asked to contract the affected muscles against a static resistance that is applied by the therapist. A typical session of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation therapy consists of a series of muscle contractions followed by periods of muscle relaxation.
Benefits of PNF
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation helps to improve muscle strength, increase endurance and improve coordination. It also results in the correction of muscular imbalances which results in increased holding power and promotes relaxation. The correction of incorrect postural and movement patterns also leads to improved health and wellbeing.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation when used as a rehabilitative therapy can be used to soothe chronic muscle pains and correct other ailments related to incorrect posture such as back and shoulder pain and restricted movement in the joints.
Precautions for PNF
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation involves a series of stretching exercises, hence, all the precautions that are commonly taken while carrying out any form of exercise should be followed. Before starting the PNF exercises ensure that your body is sufficiently warmed up to avoid cramps and injury to the muscles. While carrying out the exercises, step up the pace and intensity gradually, to allow your body to get conditioned to the demands being placed on it. While stretching, do place an emphasis on proper form and posture, otherwise you could risk negating the benefits of PNF and injuring yourself.