Updated: Jan 6, 2021
In order to keep the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, you should stretch daily.
By stretching, you achieve flexibility and it allows us to maintain a range of motion in the joints.
When you don't stretch, your muscles become tight and it can increase the chance for injury.
Stretching daily can greatly improve your overall health and it can improve your balance and decrease the risk of falling.
If you don't stretch prior to a workout routine or before any kind of physical activity, your muscles may become damaged and can then lead to joint injury and/or strains when they are suddenly stretched out.
If you're looking for a more effective way of stretching, then you may want to check out this PNF stretching.
What is PNF stretching? PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching is an advanced form of flexibility training and a fantastic way to stretch more effectively. This method of stretching was developed in order to treat neuromuscular conditions such as polio and multiple sclerosis by Dr. Herman Kabat in the 1940s.
There are three different types of PNF stretching techniques: the hold-relax, the contract-relax, and slow-hold-relax stretching techniques. These techniques fire up the muscles which cause all the blood rushes to the specific area that's being stretched. Once you relax the muscle, then you are able to go deeper into the stretch. This is a way to trick our reflexes to go further, as we have reflexes that inhibit further stretching.
How to Perform a PNF Stretch?
Begin to stretch the muscle or muscle group and hold for a few seconds.
Now, contract the muscle without moving (isometric stretching) by pushing gently against the stretch. This is best done with a partner, preferably a professional trainer, providing resistance. This is when the isometric muscle action happens.
Relax the stretch, and then stretch again while exhaling. The second stretch will be deeper than the first due to autogenic inhibition.
The Contract-Relaxtechnique is quite similar, but it requires you to contract the muscle while moving (isotonic stretching). For example, a trainer would provide resistance while you contract the muscle and push against them.
The Hold-Relax-Contracttype of PNF stretching goes one step further than the Contract-Relax type. Instead of relaxing into a passive stretch after going against your trainer's resistance, you would actively push into the stretch directly afterward.
Always use precaution when using any stretching technique.
Everyone can benefit from regular stretching and even try the more specific PNF stretching, but according to Physical therapist Cynthia Golan, "an individual with osteoporosis or who has a tendency for dislocation would not be recommended to try PNF because they would be prone to further injuring themselves.
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