PNF Stretching

PNF Stretching

Learn how to apply a PNF Stretch. PNF => Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. That's a combination of static, isometric and sometimes dynamic stretches. In this instruction I will explain hot to apply a PNF front split stretch. Of course you can also do PNF in different stretches. Stretching small muscles like the forearms or the calves with PNF is not recommended. Also be aware that using PNF every day can lead to overtraining, extreme soreness and injury. Find more stretching instructions, exercises and advice at stretching main.


  • Stage 1 of PNF (initial static stretch & warm up stretch). Hold: 20 to 30 seconds.
    Stretch as far as you can with a static passive stretch. Stage 1 is kinda like a warm up for stage 2 and 3 and therefore should not be too intensive. However, make sure you warm-up enough before you apply a PNF stretch.
  • Stage 2 of PNF (isometric stretch). Hold: Approximately 15 seconds.
    That's when the stretched muscle is contracted at the same time. In the example of a front split, try to carry as much weight as possible with your feet. Elevate your hips a little, so that your front hamstring and the back leg are contracted & stretched at the same time. For more info on how to apply an isometric stretch, please visit the isometric stretching instruction. The contraction of stage 2 thickens the muscle while it is stretched from stage 1. The muscle is temporary forced to gain more volume. In stage three, you will use this increased volume to stretch even further - beyond your natural limits.
  • Stage 3 of PNF (finish off with a static or a dynamic stretch). Hold: 20 to 30 seconds. Relax again and then apply a static or a dynamic stretch. Static stretch preferred! Because in stage 2 you applied an isometric stretch, now your legs can be stretched even further. This is because the contraction kinda blew up your muscles for a moment.


  • Now that you understand how PNF stretching works, you should understand why this method can lead to muscles soreness and injury. PNF is the most effective and intensive stretching method and should not be applied more often than 3 times per week.
  • If you are younger than 13, don't apply PNF at all, because it can harm growing joints and bones.
  • Warm up before you apply any PNF stretches.
  • At the beginning PNF was only applied in rehabilitation after injuries. Now this stretching method is used in ballet, martial arts, gymnastics, etc.