Kilborn Physiotherapy

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)



Proprioceptive  Neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) was developed by Dr. Herman Kabat, a neurophysiologist, in the 1950’s.


The PNF method involves performing patterns movements of the limbs in diagonal planes to facilitate weaker muscles.  The theory of PNF is based on neurophysiological principals and is used in physiotherapy to treat numerous conditions both neurological ie. MS cerebral palsy and orthopaedic problems.


PNF techniques involve the use of specific instructions given by the therapist to the patient to produce the desired movement with resistance being applied to the limb by the physical therapist.  The patterning of PNF motion involves the stretch of synergistic muscles which facilitates the weaker muscles.  For every diagonal PNF pattern there is an antagonistic reverse pattern.  The PNF patterns are three dimensional.


People do move in patterns ie. Brushing your hair, scratching your back, and kicking a ball involve the use of various muscles in various planes of motions.  Effective rehabilitation involves being able to move into these patterns without pain or weakness. 


Injury and trauma can reduce a persons strength, balance, coordination, and mobily.  Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation can address all of these issues and is a useful treatment technique.


Clinically, I have used PNF for rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, and I am currently exploring its use for sprinters, who are vulnerable to hamstring injuries and hip muscle injuries.



 Written by Susan Reive, Owner of Kilborn Physiotherapy Clinic