Immediate Effects of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching Programs Compared With Passive Stretching Programs for Hamstring Flexibility: A Critically Appraised Topic

J Sport Rehabil. 2017 Nov;26(6):567-572. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2016-0003. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


Clinical Scenario: Increasing hamstring flexibility through clinical stretching interventions may be an effective means to prevent hamstring injuries. However the most effective method to increase hamstring flexibility has yet to be determined.

Clinical question: For a healthy individual, are proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching programs more effective in immediately improving hamstring flexibility when compared with static stretching programs? Summary of Key Findings: A thorough literature search returned 195 possible studies; 5 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included. Current evidence supports the use of PNF stretching or static stretching programs for increasing hamstring flexibility. However, neither program demonstrated superior effectiveness when examining immediate increases in hamstring flexibility. Clinical Bottom Line: There were consistent findings from multiple low-quality studies that indicate there is no difference in the immediate improvements in hamstring flexibility when comparing PNF stretching programs to static stretching programs in physically active adults. Strength of Recommendation: Grade B evidence exists that PNF and static stretching programs equally increase hamstring flexibility immediately following the stretching program.

Keywords: PNF; direct; range of motion.

MeSH terms

  • Hamstring Muscles / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Proprioception*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Thigh / physiology