What Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?

Hectic work schedules, day-to-day responsibilities, life events, etc. can contribute to stress. Stress is an emotion, which is the body’s natural response to some threatening situations. A lack of control over the situation triggers such a response. But you can manage your stress levels with the help of a technique known as Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).

It is a stress reliever technique, that involves stretching and relaxing your muscles. This therapy is performed on muscles, one at a time, and a specific pattern is followed. It relieves tightness and releases tension in the muscles.

This technique was introduced in the 1920s by an American physicist Edmund Jacobson. Another name for this technique is Jacobson’s relaxation technique. It provides complete physical relaxation, which helps in calming down mental disturbances. This technique helps achieve mental peace through physical relaxation.

How is progressive muscle relaxation performed?

A group of muscles is worked upon first. The muscles are subjected to tightening, and tensing and the tension is released, which enhances the relaxation of those muscles.As physical relaxation is attained, it eventually leads to mental calmness.

The practice involves applying tension to a specific muscle group, in a particular order. One needs to put on comfortable clothes during the process. It can be performed while being in a seated position, or it will be easier when the person lies down.

According to the WebMD website, the practice involves step-by-step techniques, which are as follows:

  • Choose a muscle that you need to work on. Let us suppose you are practicing this technique on upper thigh muscles.You have to inhale deeply and meanwhile contract these muscles for up to 10 seconds and exhale and release the tension in the muscles in an instant.
  • Take a break for a few seconds,which is for around 10 to 20 seconds before you repeat the process with another group of muscles. This break will allow you to relax for a while.
  • Again, inhale deeply, and this time you have to focus on contracting some other muscle group. You should start the process downward and work your way up to the upper muscles of the body.
  • You can make it even more powerful by including your imagination. As you release the tensions, imagine yourself as being completely at ease and at peace. This will be beneficial both physiologically as well as psychologically because it works as an outlet for stress and stuck emotions.
  • Start from the toes, then calves, knees, thighs, and buttocks, and continue moving in the upward direction till you reach the eyebrows.
  • If you feel intense pain in some areas, then you can simply skip those muscles and move on to another. You do not have to force yourself.

You can learn this technique by consulting a physiotherapist or your healthcare provider. Besides, there are other sources such as YouTube videos and healthcare and wellness podcasts that will guide you.

Benefits of progressive muscle relaxation

This is a kind of deep relaxation technique that is helpful in eliminating stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders such as insomnia, and alleviating the symptoms of some chronic pains. Generally, healthcare professionals suggest their patients perform this technique in combination with the treatment for certain health conditions like migraines, high blood pressure or hypertension, digestive disorders, and cancer pain.

Progressive muscle relaxation benefits those people who have the following types of health problems:

  1. Sleep disorders – Those with sleep disorders like insomnia will find this technique very beneficial, as it makes it easier for them to get completely relaxed and fall asleep. You need to learn the technique from your healthcare provider and keep practicing it. Soon you will be able to see the transforming effects of this technique on your mind and body, which will eliminate sleep deprivation.
  2. Alleviates stress and anxiety – According to the research done by the National Institutes of Health, PMR can reduce the symptoms of mental health disorders like stress, anxiety, and depression. This practice encourages the feeling of well-being.
  3. Relieves neck pain – Stress and responsibilities can increase the tension in the neck and shoulder region. Researchers claim that PMR can reduce chronic neck pain.
  4. Lowers back pain – PMR can reduce the symptoms of chronic back pain and provide great relief.
  5. Mitigate migraines – Doing this practice regularly will reduce the symptoms of migraines. Also, it decreases the frequency of migraines.
  6. Helps manage blood pressure – People having high blood pressure must do this practice, which will decrease their blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

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