Some people think that stretching is just, well, stretching. But that’s not always the case. So let me introduce you to PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching, which is a different kind of stretching altogether. It’s one of the services I offer as a personal trainer in Singapore. Also called assisted stretching, you need to do this with another person—preferably someone like me, who knows what he’s doing.
PNF stretching was devised as a way to help rehab paralysis patients, but it didn’t take long for experts to figure out that it can provide a lot of benefits to people who need PT and sports medicine. During PNF treatment, you contract one muscle while you relax another, and repetitive stretches are used as a general approach.
So what good is PNF training for your fitness program?
• It enhances your flexibility. The exercises you do make you more flexible, which can help you in both your everyday activities or for special types of sports. Some sports require a great deal of flexibility, such as dancing, figure skating, and gymnastics.
• It increases your range of motion. When you do PNF stretching, you ensure that the antagonist and agonist muscle groups you are targeting contract and relax alternatively. It’s a combo of passive and isometric stretching.
• It helps injuries to heal. Remember, PNF was devised as a way for stroke victims to regain some form of mobility. Other PT specialists then used PNF stretching to help out patients with similar problems, such as those stricken with neuromuscular paralysis. Eventually, it became in general use to rehabilitate injuries for sports in general, or when you become overzealous when you try to build muscle. Currently, PNF stretching is the fastest and most effective way to make you more pliable when your body is resisting movement.
• It helps prevent injuries. If you are about to embark on some pretty serious physical activity, then PNF stretching is highly recommended. It lessens the risk of muscle and joint injuries during your workout. It also helps in correcting some types of muscular imbalance and helps you to maintain functional flexibility. Some sports such as cycling can also be better when you do PNF stretching beforehand, so that you don’t experience as much pain on your buttocks and groin.
There are a couple of disadvantages to PNF stretching, however. For one, you can’t do it alone. You absolutely need a partner to do it properly, because you can’t complete most of the proscribed stretches all by yourself. Someone who knows what he is doing can help with that. You need to know what to do, the length of time you need to work on the muscle groups, and the time you need to rest in between each stretch.
Also, you need someone knowledgeable such as a personal trainer so that you don’t hurt yourself by overstretching. Someone like me can help you warm up properly, so that your mind and body are prepared for the strenuous activity ahead. By warming up correctly, you boost the core temperature of your body, as well as your muscle temperature. This helps ensure that you reap the maximum benefits from your PNF stretching.
Coach Sharm, MSc