Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Achieving Good Health Through PNF

Flexibility exercises are essential in any fitness program. Stretching exercises are one of the easiest ways to improve flexibility of the body but they are one of the most underestimated parts of health and fitness. Flexibility made easy is the main aim of these exercises. There are different types of stretches and stretching exercises that can improve the flexibility almost immediately. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, or PNF, is an advanced exercise for stretching the muscles that has been encouraged by many physical therapists. In addition to its health benefits, this kind stretching is necessary to achieve passive and dynamic flexibility for activities like martial arts, ballet, gymnastics, and many more.

PNF uses stretches that are designed to stretch reflex and lengthen reaction to gain a greater range of motion. It allows the muscles to be stretched to a greater degree by increasing the brain’s sensory receptor signals through a five to 10-second voluntary muscle contraction that can be followed by a five to 10-second voluntary muscle relaxation. With the hold-relax PNF method, the muscle is placed into a static stretch. Individuals who want to engage in this kind of training are encouraged to train with a partner. Holding and contracting the muscle against resistance from a partner for 10 seconds. Afterwards, relaxing while the partner moves the muscle to a new static position may be done. This technique can repeated for two to three times.

PNF stretches can put extra stress on specific muscle groups and therefore increase the risk of injury to the body's soft tissue areas. Individuals who want to engage in this kind of method are advised to include a conditioning phase in their training method. Warming up before stretching and cooling down afterwards may also help.

Advantages of Warming Up before PNF Stretching may include the following:

  • It gets your mind ready for exercise. Most sports require a great deal of mental focus. Stretching helps your mind shift from daily work mode into training mode.
  • It gets your body ready for exercise. Warming up means exactly what it says; you're warming the muscles gradually rather than plunging them into the shock of a workout.
  • Warming up increases your body's core temperature and in a way giving you a head start on your routine.
  • Warming up increases your body's muscle temperature. Warm muscles are limber, flexible muscles, less prone to ripping and tearing as they are when starting any physical activity cold.
Individuals who want to engage in PNF stretches are encouraged to train with skilled and experienced trainers to avoid injuries and other health complications. These trainers may design a program that may aid in one’s goal in improving one’s health. In addition to this, seeking the approval of doctors are also necessary, some conditions may hinder individuals from engaging in some stretches. Effective communication between health and fitness professionals are necessary to make flexibility training worthwhile, achieve its health benefits, and reduce the development of injuries. For this reason, exercisers should not only really on books, magazines, internet files, and many more.

Resource Box : Emmanuel Chavez is a sports writer and holds a graduate degree in

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