The FNP (PNF) stretch, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, is "... what the closer we have come to scientific stretching, "says physiotherapist Michael Leslie in an article for the Yoga Journal. You can re-train your stretch reflex with this technique, with or without a partner.
General aspects of PNF stretch
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is resistance applied to a limb with an initial isometric contraction-a non-moving muscle contraction-for a minimum of six seconds followed by complete relaxation of the muscle that is being stretched., explains the American Council on Exercise. You should repeat this stretch of contraction and relaxation several times, and do the same with the opposite muscle group for a balanced FNP stretch. This technique can increase physical ability, efficiency, performance and coordination during exercise, in addition to improving muscle balance and blood supply to muscles and joints and decrease the risk of injury, pain in the lower back and stress.
Examples of FNP stretch
FNP stretches can help the hamstrings and quadriceps, for example. To stretch your hamstrings, start by lying on your back with one leg extended and the other raised also extended. Your partner should gently push the raised leg. Contract your hamstrings, then for while your partner tries to take your leg a little further. To stretch the quadriceps, instead, lie on your stomach while your partner flexes your knee so that your foot comes close to your torso. Contract the quadriceps, then relax them while your partner tries to take your foot farther.
Factors Affecting FNP
Age, inactivity, gender, body type and whether you have pre-warmed or can not affect FNP stretch. Age and inactivity decrease flexibility over time. The greatest increase in flexibility occurs between the ages of 7 and 12, explains the American Council on Exercise. After age 25, flexibility could decrease significantly. Women tend to have more flexibility than men, particularly in the pelvic area. Someone who weighs very little, with an ectomorph-like body, could have a wider range of motion than an endomorph, someone with a heavier and more developed body type. Pre-heating increases blood flow and nutrients in the muscles creating an increase in the range of movement in the joint - conditions that need to exist for your FNP stretch to be effective.
Assisted stretching technique
It is best to use a professional partner when performing the FNP stretch.If you are over 50, remember that the elasticity of the muscle - the capacity of a relaxed body to recover its size and shape after deformation - decreases with age. In addition, the conduction of your nerves - the speed at which the nerves carry information to the body - decreases and the periods of recovery lengthen with age. Use effective communication with your coach or partner when performing an FNP-assisted stretch. Includes all major muscle groups such as the lower back, thighs, hamstrings, hips and shoulders at least once during the training session. Certain equipment - bands, towels, ties or even an old T-shirt - can help you make the FNP stretch even more beneficial.
Time and frequency
To improve your flexibility, perform FNP stretching most days of the week. You can stretch every day. You should see results in four or six weeks. Remember, however, that improvements in flexibility are not permanent and that it is necessary to stretch regularly to maintain maximum range of motion.