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Optimal Contraction Intensity During Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation for Maximal Increase of Range of Motion

Sheard, Peter W; Paine, Tim J

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - pp 416-421
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c50a0d
Original Research

Sheard, PW and Paine, TJ. Optimal contraction intensity during proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation for maximal increase of range of motion. J Strength Cond Res 24(2): 416-421, 2010-An informal review of literature on the use of postisometric relaxation (PIR) type proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) indicates that the force of contraction requested from the athlete ranges from 10 to 100% of maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). The purpose of this study was therefore to determine if an optimal contraction intensity to elicit maximum positive change in range of motion (ΔROM) exists. This research question was tested across a convenience sample of 56 (37 male and 19 female) university athletes. Target contractions during PNF interventions were set at 20, 50, and 100% MVIC. Pre- and post-PNF intervention hip flexion range of motion (ROM) was measured on a unilateral straight leg raise. The target MVIC of 20, 50, and 100% elicited mean pre-post intervention ΔROM of 8.4, 12.9, and 11.6°, respectively (all p ≤ 0.0001). Differences in pre-post intervention ΔROM between target contraction intensities were also significant (p = 0.016 to ≤ 0.0001). A peak ΔROM of 13.3° was found at a PNF contraction intensity of 64.3% MVIC. Where optimizing increased ROM in healthy athletes is the desired outcome of PIR-PNF application, coaches and trainers should elicit contraction intensities of approximately 65% MVIC.

Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Health, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Peter W. Sheard,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association