Medically the evaluation by Peggy Pletcher, M.S., R.D., L.D., CDE — created by Kristen Barta — to update on July 8, 2017

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Flexibility is an essential for athletes and also nonathletes alike. It permits you to move freely and comfortably in your daily life, and also can also aid prevent injury throughout exercise. Among the ideal ways to increase your flexibility is by stretching. However, research says that no all stretching approaches are produced equal. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching relies on reflexes to develop deeper stretches that rise flexibility.

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According come the international PNF Association, PNF stretching was emerged by Dr. Herman Kabat in the 1940s as a means to treat neuromuscular problems including polio and also multiple sclerosis. PNF methods have because gained popularity v physical therapists and other fitness professionals. It’s basic to know why. Follow to research study from the college of Queensland, PNF stretching might be the most efficient stretching method for increasing variety of motion.


While there space multiple PNF stretching techniques, every one of them depend on stretching a muscle to its limit. Doing this cause the station myotatic reflex, a security reflex that calms the muscle to stop injury.

“PNF reasons the mind to go ‘I don’t desire that muscle come tear’ and sends a post to let the muscle relax a little much more than it would normally,” says fasciologist Ashley Black.

1. Hold-relax

One PNF technique that Black states can create the reflex is typically called “hold-relax.” This involves:

Putting a muscle in a stretched position (also referred to as a passive stretch) and also holding because that a few seconds.Contracting the muscle without relocating (also called isometric), such as pushing gently versus the big without actually moving. This is once the reflex is triggered and there is a “6- come 10-second home window of chance for a past ‘normal’ stretch,” black says.Relaxing the stretch, and also then extending again while exhaling. This 2nd stretch must be deeper than the first.

2. Contract-relax

Another common PNF an approach is the contract-relax stretch. It is almost identical to hold-relax, except that rather of contracting the muscle without moving, the muscle is contracted while moving. This is sometimes referred to as isotonic stretching.

For example, in a hamstring stretch, this can mean a trainer gives resistance together an athlete contracts the muscle and pushes the leg under to the floor.

3. Hold-relax-contract

A 3rd technique, hold-relax-contract, is comparable to hold-relax, except that after ~ pushing versus the stretch, rather of relaxing right into a passive stretch, the athlete proactively pushes into the stretch.

For example, in a hamstring stretch, this can mean engaging the muscles to raise the leg further, as the trainer pushes in the same direction.

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Regardless that technique, PNF stretching can be supplied on most muscles in the body, according to Black. Stretches can likewise be modified so you can do lock alone or v a partner.