The effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) on joint range of motion (ROM) for older adults are unknown, and few studies have investigated changes in joint ROM associated with age. This study examined PNF stretch techniques' effects on knee-joint ROM in trained (T) and untrained (UT) older adults. Knee-joint ROM was tested in T and UT adults age 45–55 and 65–75 years using 3 PNF stretch techniques: static stretch (SS), contract-relax (CR). and agonist contract-relax (ACR). The 45–55 UT group achieved significantly more ROM than did the 65–75 UT group, suggesting an age-related decline in ROM. The 65–75 T group achieved significantly greater knee-extension ROM than did their UT counterparts, indicating a training-related response to PNF stretch techniques and that lifetime training might counteract age-related declines in joint ROM. The ACR-PNF stretch condition produced 4–6° more ROM than did CR and SS for all groups except the 65–75 UT group, possibly as a result of lack of neuromuscular control or muscle strength.
Ferber is with the Dept. of Physical Therapy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-2591. Gravelle is with the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215. Osternig is with the Dept. of Exercise and Movement Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.