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The Benefits of Assisted Stretching

Updated: Apr 4

assisted stretching for neck pain

Stretching keeps the musculoskeletal system strong. Yet, solo stretches can only do so much for your body, especially if you're not doing them correctly (or at all . . . we see you).

Performing assisted stretches with a trained practitioner can keep your muscles healthy and flexible. When your muscles are long and limber, you can perform better, recover faster, and mitigate injuries.

In this post, we’ll explain what assisted stretching is and discuss how it can benefit you. Let’s get started!

What Is Assisted Stretching?

Assisted stretching, also known as Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), is a technique in which a practitioner guides an individual through a series of passive stretches. This type of stretching involves both stretching and contracting muscle groups to achieve maximum static flexibility. When performed correctly, PNF stretching isolates specific muscle groups to reach a much deeper range of motion than you would by stretching yourself.

While everyone can and should stretch by themselves, they commonly perform stretches ineffectively. However, assisted stretching ensures your muscles move correctly to achieve an effective stretch.

For instance, when getting your hamstring stretched, you’ll lie on your back and extend the leg into its lengthened position. Then, you’ll push your foot into your partner's hand, and contract your hamstring:

PNF stretching with a fitness coach

At this time, your practitioner will gently apply pressure to push your muscle into a deeper stretch. By relying on your partner, you can relax and focus on breathing through the stretch.

The Benefits of PNF Stretching

Fitness coaches and physical therapists alike utilize PNF stretching techniques to treat clients for various ailments. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or trying to improve mobility, ​a customized stretching routine with a trainer can help improve your quality of life. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of assisted stretching.

1. Reduce Muscle and Joint Pain

Contractility is a muscle’s ability to shorten and elongate. We use it to perform daily activities, such as getting out of bed in the morning. However, our muscle contractility naturally declines as we age.

Furthermore, the muscle-tendon complex becomes stiffer with age. Thus, increasing the difficulty of producing everyday movements and limiting our range of motion.

For these reasons, we become prone to muscle aches and pains as we get older. ​Nonetheless, with the help of a trained practitioner, you can loosen stiff muscles and target persistent aches to relieve stress and decrease soreness. Over time, your muscles will become longer, leaner, and more flexible. With strong muscles and tendons, you can mitigate joint stress and reduce muscle pain.

Moreover, weak muscles cannot fully extend, which can cause muscle soreness after exercise and lead to strains and injuries. By incorporating assisted stretching into your routine, you will likely reduce post-workout soreness and prevent injuries.

2. Improve Range of Motion (ROM)

Range of Motion (ROM) describes how far a joint or muscle can comfortably move in a particular direction. We use ROM daily to climb stairs, stand up, and walk around. Yet, tight muscles lead to poor ROM. Moreover, if one joint becomes stiff, it affects the mobility of an entire system.

Studies show that performing assisted stretches twice weekly can significantly improve range of motion and functionality, specifically in older individuals. That’s because assisted stretching provides a deeper stretch for better muscle stimulation.

Yet, assisted stretching is not just for older adults. It can also help reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by elongating and strengthening the muscles. In doing so, it can minimize muscle tightness and improve posture.

3. Enhance Performance

As assisted stretching improves your range of motion, you’ll likely see a boost in athletic performance and daily activities. That’s because muscles short, tight muscles operate below their full potential. However, when you increase the flexibility of a muscle-tendon unit with PNF, you will gradually improve your athletic performance:

assisted stretching enhances athletic performance

Since your muscles can elongate more freely, you can achieve greater power and strength during exercise and daily activities. Therefore, a specialized stretch routine can boost performance and help you safely hit new PRs while avoiding injuries. 

4. Accelerate Recovery

Assisted stretching is critical during recovery after a musculoskeletal injury or surgery, such as a torn rotator cuff. That’s because it strengthens the weakened area and retrains the joints, muscles, and ligaments to move safely:

recover from injuries faster

Practicing assisted stretching during rehabilitation will help improve flexibility and increase ROM to get you back on your feet faster. Therefore, incorporating it into your rehab will boost recovery and prevent further injuries.

Moreover, stretching increases blood flow and circulation to reduce swelling. Thus, it helps to mitigate pain and discomfort associated with inflammation. 

Take the Next Step

While everyone can (and should!) stretch on their own, partner stretching can target specific muscles to achieve a deeper, more effective stretch. Doing this will improve flexibility and stimulate blood flow to keep your musculoskeletal system healthy.

To recap, PNF stretching can:

  1. Reduce muscle soreness and joint pain.

  2. Improve range of motion.

  3. Enhance performance.

  4. Accelerate recovery after surgery or injury.

Are you ready to mitigate pain, enhance performance, and improve your quality of life? Sign up for your free consultation today!


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