Tennis Fitness: Improve your Flexibility with PNF Exercises

Tennis Fitness: Improve your Flexibility with PNF Exercises

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about fitness and exercise and its benefits. One of the major misconceptions is stretching and its benefits to the athlete, whether recreational or competitive. We all thought that there is only one kind of stretching (one that we grew up with in our PE and varsity classes), where we stretch from head-to-toe stretching one particular muscle group and counting to twenty. That type of stretching is called the Static Stretch. Often our coaches and PE teachers boast of its health benefits from strengthening your muscles, avoiding injuries, as a perfect warm-up routine up to increasing your flexibility. Scientific research proves that Static Stretching does not provide any of these ‘claimed’ benefits to the body, it even weakens your muscles if you use this type of stretching before a workout. To further understand, the different types of stretching are Dynamic Stretching (Warm-up), Ballistic (Improve range of motion), Static (post-workout to relax tight and sore muscles)and PNF (Improve Flexibility).

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What is PNF?

PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. In more simple terms, PNF exercises are used to enhance both the active and passive range of motion to help athletes improve performance.

You start by going to the maximum level of flexibility (relaxed stretch), then you contract the muscle involved in the stretch, and finally you stretch to your new maximum. (photo shown below)

Reminders on doing PNF Stretching

-          It should not be combined with another workout. It is a workout on its own

-          Not recommended to be done every day. Allow your body to rest and recuperate. Ideally PNF stretching should be done every other day

-          Don’t forget to warm up before doing PNF exercises

-          Use only one PNF stretch per muscle group

-          Use PNF only on big muscle groups (quadriceps, hips, back)

-          Seek professional advice from licensed trainers and physiotherapists before undergoing a PNF workout.

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