PNF Stretching for Hamstrings

PNF Stretching for Hamstrings

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PNF hamstring techniques are extremely effective in improving range of motion.

Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you are looking to improve the elasticity of your hamstrings, try PNF stretching. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, or PNF, is a technique used to improve range of motion, prevent chronic injuries and enhance athletic performance. This form of stretching is believed to be the most effective technique for improving range of motion when performed actively, which requires a contraction of the opposing muscles. Contrary to some sources on the web, a partner is not required.

The Science of PNF

Despite the fact that the exact science underlining the results of PNF stretching is yet to be determined, it is known that the main effect is associated to golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles. These organs and spindles are activated when muscle length and tension increase. During PNF stretches, however, contraction of the hamstrings during the pre-stretch and shortening of the opposing muscles -- the hip flexors and quadriceps -- during the stretch decreases the activation of these organs and spindles. In response, the hamstrings relax, fostering a deeper stretch.

Incorporating PNF Stretches in Your Routine

To be effective, perform PNF stretches two times per week after physical activity; for instance, after a long run, walk or bike ride. Hold the contraction and stretch of the hamstring for six seconds each. Remember to contract your quadriceps and hip flexors during the stretch to make the stretch active. Active PNF stretches have been shown to be more effective than static stretches. Static stretching is when you hold the stretch without movement or contraction.

PNF With a Partner

Lie on your back. Extend your legs on the floor and dorsiflex your feet. Dorsiflexing is when you move your feet up toward your shin. Lift your right leg up as high as you can. Have your partner resist your right leg. Gently push into your partner's arms for six seconds. Relax your hamstrings by contracting your right quadriceps and hip flexors. Draw your right leg closer to your face for six seconds. Repeat at least three times. Make sure to keep your left leg glued to the ground. If you need assistance, have your partner hold your left leg down. Repeat on the other side.

PNF Without a Partner

Lie on your back with your legs extended on the ground and your feet dorsiflexed. Keep your left leg glued to the floor. Wrap a belt, rope, towel or exercise band around your right foot. Lift your right leg up as high as you can. Resist your leg with the belt, rope, towel or band as you push your leg into it for six seconds. Relax your hamstrings by contracting your quadriceps and hip flexors as you draw your leg closer to your face for six seconds. Do this at least three times then repeat on the other side.


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  3. Dogul

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  4. Nelek

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