In 1929, Dr. Edmund Jacobson published Progressive Relaxation. In it, he detailed a technique that focuses on tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body.
The technique is now called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). The mental component of the technique focuses on the difference between feelings tension and relaxation. During PMR the eyes are closed and concentration is directed to the sensation of tension and relaxation. Feelings of warmth and heaviness are felt in the relaxed muscle after it is tensed, a mental relaxation is felt as a result. With practice, one can learn how to effectively relax and deter anxiety.
Since Dr. Jacobson’s ground-breaking work, practitioners who are trained in various body therapies have come to believe muscle tension serves an important role in keeping psychological material repressed. They believe tension stops energy flow and therefore the flow of emotions.
It is best to consult a physician before beginning PMR – especially if you have suffered a serious injury, have muscle spasms or back problems.
PMR tips –
- Find a quiet place with no electronic distractions
- Remove restrictive clothing
- Sit in a comfortable chair – you may practice PMR lying down but you just might fall asleep
- Remember to hold the tension in each area for fifteen seconds
- When you finish a session, relax with your eyes closed for a few seconds before getting up slowly
To begin –
· Start with the right hand and lower arm. Make a tight fist and feel the tension in the hand, over the knuckles and up into the lower arm. Hold it for 15 seconds, then let go and relax. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation in your hand and lower arm.
· To tense the right bicep, push your elbow down against the arm of the chair, feel the tension, study it, and then let go and relax
· Move to the left hand and lower arm - make a tight fist......
· Right bicep - push your elbow against the arm of the chair......
· Move to the muscles of the face – start with the forehead. Tense the forehead by lifting the eyebrows as high as possible. Tense the muscles of the upper cheeks and nose by squinting tightly. At the same time wrinkle the nose.
· Tense the muscles in the lower part of the face and jaw by gentling bite the teeth together while pulling the corners of the mouth back. Remember to feel the tension.
· To tense the muscles of the neck – make a fist and push the chin against it, creating tension in the back and sides of the neck
· Tense by shoulders by lifting them towards the ears. At the same time, create the tension in the back of the neck.
· To tense the upper back - take a deep breath and hold it. At the same time, pull the shoulder blades together and try to make them touch
· Tense stomach and abdominal muscles by pulling the stomach muscles in and holding them
· Tense the right thigh by lifting the leg up off the chair - feel the tension in the upper leg and into the hip
· Tense the right calf by pointing the toes
· Tense the right foot by pointing the toes and turning the foot inward
· To tense the left leg, lift it up off the chair
· Tense the left calf by pointing the toes
· Tense the left foot by pointing the toes, turning the foot inward
· Now that each muscle groups in the body had been tensed and relaxed, try to relax each muscle group more deeply. Take deep breaths and let go of any remaining tension