Basic concept of PNF Techniques
PNF Techniques help develop muscular strength and endurance, joint stability, mobility,
neuromuscular control and coordination– all of which are aimed at improving the
overall functional ability of patients. To that end, PNF Techniques have broad applications
in treating people with neurologic and musculoskeletal conditions, most frequently in rehabilitating the knee,
shoulder, hip and ankle.
Why go for PNF Techniques
While there are multiple PNF stretching techniques, all of them rely on stretching a muscle to its limit.
Doing this triggers the inverse myotatic reflex, a protective reflex that calms the muscle to prevent injury.
PNF Stretching: The Role of the Stretch Reflex
The muscle spindle is a long thin nerve receptor found within the muscle. Information from this receptor
transmits information to the spinal cord regarding muscle length and the speed of lengthening. When a
muscle is stretched quickly this muscle spindle fires and causes a reflexive contraction within that muscle
that is undergoing the stretch. The greater the speed of stretch, the stronger the reflex contraction in
the muscle being stretched.
PNF Stretching: Reciprocal Inhibition
Inhibition of the antagonist muscle group is mediated by the muscle spindle. If
the agonist muscle contracts, then the spindle fires, sending messages to the spinal cord causing the
antagonist muscle to relax.
PNF Stretching: Autogenic Inhibition
The golgi tendon organ is a nerve receptor found in tendons. This receptor fires
when tension increases within the tendon. This tension can be due to stretch or contracting muscle. When
the golgi tendon organ fires a signal is sent to the spinal cord causing the agonist muscle to relax.
During pnf stretching, these three mechanisms all work together to allow normal smooth movements and can be manipulated
through PNF techniques to increase our ability to stretch.