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Postural sway changes following proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation

Postural sway changes following proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation

Goss-Sampson, Mark ORCID: 0000-0002-2662-559X and Strickland, Jennifer (2003) Postural sway changes following proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. In: International Society for Posture and Gait Research World Congress, 23 - 27 March 2003, Sydney, Australia. (Unpublished)

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Introduction: Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching techniques are gaining popularity especially amongst athletes. The techniques appear to provide greater (possibly only temporary) increases in joint range of movement (ROM) compared to other forms of stretching (1) and are thus used by athletes wishing to improve their ROM. However, other effects of dramatically changing tissue extensibility have not been recorded, in particular the effect upon the proprioceptive system and its subsequent role in motor control. This study aims to establish if there are any significant changes in postural sway after application of a lower limb PNF stretching session.

Methods: Passive ROMs for the ankle, knee and hip in the sagittal plane (ie flexion and extension) were measured bilaterally in 15 healthy subjects using a clinical goniometer. Centre of pressure (CoP) excursions were recorded for 30 s at 100 Hz from a Kistler forceplate. Five recordings were taken for each of the following postural situations; (1) bilateral quiet stance (2) unilateral stance – dominant leg and (3) unilateral stance – non-dominant leg. From the CoP data sway area, sway angle, sway diameters and frequencies (Hz) in both anterior-posterior (AP) and mediolateral (ML) planes were determined. Unilateral balance timings with eyes closed were also assessed. PNF stretching was then performed using the Contract-Relax method, on the major flexors and extensor muscles of the lower limb. Joint ROMs and postural sway parameters were then retested. Due to known inter-subject variability in sway parameters, significances of pre and post PNF differences were assessed using paired t-tests.

Results: The results showed that there was there a significant (P < 0.05) gain in joint ROM following PNF in both the dominant and non-dominant legs. Comparing dominant and non-dominant legs (Table 1), PNF resulted significantly (P<0.05) greater increase in ankle RoM in the dominant compared to the non-dominant leg.

Discussion and Conclusions: These data indicate that PNF not only affects joint tissue extensibility, but also changes proprioceptive input affecting the subsequent motor control of the subject. In all cases PNF significantly increased the sway area. In bilateral stance the increase in area appears to be predominantly due to an increase in ML sway, whilst in the dominant leg it was due to an increase in the AP component. Since AP movement is principally associated with ankle movement, the increase in AP movement in the dominant leg is most probably associated with the associated increase in ankle RoM compared to the non-dominant leg. It appears that PNF increases the area of sway by allowing the system to sway further at a slower frequency before proprioceptors activate feedback control mechanisms. This could either be due to an increase in the threshold and / or a decrease in the gain of feedback motor control.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Poster)
Uncontrolled Keywords: PNF postural sway
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
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Last Modified: 09 Oct 2021 04:46

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