By Assia Mortensen
Progressive muscle relaxation is based on the late Dr. Edmond Jacobson’s concepts, first developed in the 1920s. Dr. Jacobson thought that the body responds to anxious thoughts by tensing muscle groups, creating a cycle in which the tense muscles then increase anxiety. Progressive relaxation has been found to lower pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration and decrease perspiration. It is one of the most popular relaxation tools used by medical professionals today.
Relaxed muscles bring on a more serene state with less physical and psychological tension, according to the University of Missouri. Medical professionals have recommended progressive muscle relaxation to help treat muscle tension, anxiety, insomnia, depression, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle spasms, neck and back pain as well as high blood pressure.
How to Do It:
- Progressive relaxation is best performed either lying down in a relaxed position or sitting in a chair with your head supported.
- Start by relaxing the muscles of your feet and work up your body. Breathe deeply and focus on your breathing being slow and easy.
- Tense each muscle for five seconds, relax for 10 seconds then relax even more deeply for another 10 seconds.
- With practice, the whole body can relax in just a few minutes.
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“Progressive Relaxation”; Dr. Edmund Jacobson; 1929; Accessed September 26, 2012
University of Missouri Outreach: Relaxation; Accessed September 26, 2012
National Institutes of Health: Effects of relaxation on psychobiological wellbeing during pregnancy; Accessed September 26, 2012