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PNF stretching 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Static stretching vs. “fancy” PNF stretching: which works better? Hold-relax, right?

It’s common for stretching enthusiasts to dismiss my concern that stretching is not all that useful with the concession that, of course, static stretching is quite pointless, but fancier methods (their methods) are “obviously” clinically useful. By far the most common example of allegedly superior stretching is the broad category of “proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation,” and more specifically the hold relax method. Supposedly this approach works better than mere pulling on muscle. However, this test of the immediate effects HR-PNF versus static stretch on hamstrings was a bust: they both increased flexibility equally well (for whatever that’s worth).

No significant differences were found when comparing the effectiveness of HR-PNF and SS techniques. Both stretching methods resulted in significant immediate increases in hamstring length.

“Immediate effects of quantified hamstring stretching: hold-relax proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation versus static stretching”
Puentedura et al. Physical Therapy in Sport. Volume 12, Number 3, 122–6. Aug 2011.

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