Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, as the name suggests, is the stimulation of proprioceptors and neuromuscular mechanisms.This stimulation can be utilized by physiotherapist to have multiple effects such as improvement in strength, more sequential muscle activation, improved movement coordination etc.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF) in Sports
An essential component of PNF is the diagonal pattern, which is the basis of all functional movements. Since these movements are the framework on which all human movements are based, training and strengthening along these patterns can help in improving performance in sports. Diagonal patterns for the shoulder are the basis for all upper limb movements, especially in overhead activities.
Addition of resistance to these diagonal patterns can further enhance the positive effects and strengthen the rotator cuff musculature which is vital to the functioning of the shoulder. This resistance can be added in the form of hand held weights or thera bands and tubes.
There are two diagonals of movement and four basic arm patterns:
- Flexion-abduction-lateral rotation and Extension-adduction-medial rotation (D2)
- Flexion-adduction-lateral rotation and Extension-abduction-medial rotation (D1)
The improvement in performance in sports is due to many factors such as:
- Stimulation of mechanoreceptors in the muscles
- Enhance the response of neuromuscular mechanisms
- Proper muscle recruitment and firing patterns are trained
- Enhanced synergy and synchrony of muscle contraction around the shoulder
- Repetition of the movements improves motor learning
- Maintaining the muscle balance around the shoulder
- Sport specific movements; specificity principle applies
- PNF patterns are the basis for all functional movement
These functional diagonal patterns can be applied to all sports that involve overhead shoulder activity such as baseball, volleyball, handball, cricket, tennis, badminton, squash etc.