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A Comparison of Assisted and Unassisted Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Techniques and Static Stretching

Maddigan, Meaghan E.; Peach, Ashley A.; Behm, David G.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 5 - p 1238–1244
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182510611
Original Research

Abstract: Maddigan, ME, Peach, AA, and Behm, DG. A comparison of assisted and unassisted proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation techniques and static stretching. J Strength Cond Res 26(5): 1238–1244, 2012—Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching often requires a partner. Straps are available allowing an individual to perform PNF stretching alone. It is not known if a strap provides similar improvements in the range of motion (ROM) as partner-assisted PNF or static stretching. The purpose of this study was to compare assisted and unassisted (with a strap) PNF stretching and static stretching. Hip joint ROM, reaction time (RT), and movement time (MT) were measured prestretching and poststretching. Thirteen recreationally active adults participated in this study. The participants were subjected to 5 different stretch interventions in a random order on separate days. Stretch conditions included unassisted PNF stretching using (a) isometric, (b) concentric, and (c) eccentric contractions with a stretch strap, (d) partner-assisted isometric PNF, and (e) static stretching. The RT, MT, dynamic, active, passive hip flexion angle, and angular velocity with dynamic hip flexion were measured before and after the intervention. The ROM improved (p < 0.05) 2.6, 2.7, and 5.4%, respectively, with dynamic, active static, and passive static ROM, but there was no significant difference between the stretching protocols. There was a main effect for time (p < 0.05) with all stretching conditions negatively impacting dynamic angular velocity (9.2%). Although there was no significant effect on RT, MT showed a negative main effect for time (p < 0.05) slowing 3.4%. In conclusion, it was found that all 3 forms of active stretching provided similar improvements in the ROM and poststretching performance decrements in MT and angular velocity. Thus, individuals can implement PNF stretching techniques with a partner or alone with a strap to improve ROM, but athletes should not use these techniques before important competitions or training because of the impairment of limb velocity and MT.

School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Address correspondence to David George Behm,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association