Effects of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching on Stiffness and Force-Producing Characteristics of the Ankle in Active Women

National Strength and Conditioning Association
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Journal Article
Journal Of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007, 21 (2), pp. 572 - 577
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Effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching on stiffness and force-producing characteristics of the ankle in active women. J. Strength Cond. Res. 21(2):572 577. 2007. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching on musculotendinous unit (MTU) stiffness of the ankle joint. Twenty active women were assessed for maximal ankle range of motion, maximal strength of planter flexors, rate of force development, and ankle MTU stiffness. Subjects were randomly allocated into an experimental (n 10) group or control group (n 10). The experimental group performed PNF stretching on the ankle joint 3 times per week for 4 weeks, with physiological testing performed before and after the training period. After training, the experimental group significantly increased ankle range of motion (7.8%), maximal isometric strength (26%), rate of force development (25%), and MTU stiffness (8.4%) (p 0.001). Four weeks of PNF stretching contributed to an increase in MTU stiffness, which occurred concurrently with gains to ankle joint range of motion. The results confirm that MTU stiffness and joint range of motion measurements appear to be separate entities. The increased MTU stiffness after the training period is explained by adaptations to maximal isometric muscle contractions, which were a component of PNF stretching. Because a stiffer MTU system is linked with an improved the ability to store and release elastic energy, PNF stretching would benefit certain athletic performance due to a reduced contraction time or greater mechanical efficiency. The results of this study suggest PNF stretching is a useful modality at increasing a joint s range of motion and its strength.
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