Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

What is Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation?

The term “proprioception” refers to one’s positional awareness of their body and its movements. Proprioception therapy works on strengthening certain areas of the body, especially the core, in order to improve positional awareness.


There are different methods to proprioception therapy, one of them being Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). PNF is a stretching technique that targets the muscles, in order to improve their elasticity and range of motion. For more information on what Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is and how it can benefit you, contact Roadside Physical Therapy today.


Evidence supporting Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation:


You may be wondering, “What exactly is Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation? How can stretching help improve my positional awareness?”


These questions are answered in a 2012 study published by the National Institutes of Health. Titled “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): Its Mechanisms and Effects on Range of Motion and Muscular Function,” this study looks at PNF as a treatment option for patients in need of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.


Theoretical mechanisms were identified as: autogenic inhibition, reciprocal inhibition, stress relaxation, and the gate control theory. It is agreed that these four mechanisms help to enhance range of motion. When the stretching techniques of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation are performed consistently after targeted physical therapy exercises, they work to increase the effects of the four mechanisms, thus simultaneously increasing range of motion and athletic performance.


The main goals of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is to improve a patient’s range of motion and performance. This study proves PNF to be successful in achieving both of these goals when applied under the right conditions, right after exercise. The study states,


All four mechanisms behind the stretching technique [PNF] explain the reasoning behind the increase in range of motion, as well as in strength and athletic performance.”


How do I know if Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is right for me?


Your proprioceptive system is a part of your body that involves certain nerves and muscles that determine your balance and positional awareness. Proprioception nerves are sensory nerves that situate throughout the body. They make you aware of your posture and aware of spatial things around you. By strengthening affected muscles through Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, the sensory nerves are able to gain a better awareness of your posture, balance, and surroundings.


At your initial appointment, your physical therapist will perform a comprehensive exam to determine what the best course of treatment will be for you. If PNF is the best method for your needs, your physical therapist will walk you through the stretches and explain how they will help aid you in your recovery.


If you are interested in learning more about Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, or you think you could benefit from this stretching technique, don’t hesitate to contact Roadside Physical Therapy today to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated physical therapists!