Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation technique that has been effectively used to control stress and anxiety, relieve insomnia, and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation involves sequentially tensing and then relaxing individual muscle groups in various parts of the body. It aims to increase awareness of areas that may be holding tension and to achieve progressively deeper relaxation. With practice, a person learns to distinguish states of tension and relaxation and becomes better able to prevent stress.
Relaxation lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls any involuntary actions, thereby decreasing heart and respiration rates and blood pressure. This, in turn, may be helpful in preventing or alleviating various stress-related conditions, such as high blood pressure and tension headaches.
The History of Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation was developed by American physiologist Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920’s. Jacobson was one of the first scientists to measure the electrical activity of the muscles. He believed that anxiety resulted in muscle tension and that reducing this tension would lessen the body’s stress response.
Individual methods of progressive muscle relaxation may vary slightly. A typical routine is to lie in a comfortable, relaxed position with eyes closed and concentrate on different body areas one by one. Each major muscle group is tensed for around 15 seconds, then slowly released for about 30 seconds, inhaling on the tightening phase and exhaling with relaxation. The associated feelings should be noted. Sequences often start at the brow or eyes and work progressively down the body to the toes, until the whole body is relaxed.
Many people teach themselves this technique using books, videos or CDs. Others may prefer to learn form and experienced therapist.
Progressive muscle relaxation is used both to promote general well-being and to assist in the treatment of various conditions believed to be associated with or worsened by stress.
Psychological problems: Progressive muscle relaxation can help to alleviate anxiety,, phobias, depression, insomnia and tension headaches, as well as lessening feeling of stress in people who are quitting smoking.
Asthma: In a 2002 study at the Department of Clinical Psychology of NIMHANS in Bangalore, India, progressive muscle relaxation along with other cognitive behaviour therapy techniques produced a significant decrease in asthma symptoms, and in anxiety and depression, compared with a control group.
Aggression: A study published in the journal Stress and Health in 2005 showed that progressive muscle relaxation is effective in treating aggression in stressed male adolescents.
Diabetes: A study at Duke University in North Caroline and published in 2002 in Diabetes Care demonstrated better blood sugar control in new diabetic patients who were taught progressive muscle relaxation.
Osteoarthritis: Significant reductions in pain and mobility difficulties were observed among osteoarthritis patients using progressive muscle relaxation, according to a 2004 study from Purdue University School of Nursing in Indiana.
Cancer Chemotherapy: Nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy were reduced and quality of life measures increased using progressive muscle relaxation, according to a study from Korea published in the journal Support Care Cancer in 2005.
Hyperacusis: Many patients with tinnitus also complain of hyperacusis – sounds being uncomfortable loud. A small study published in the German medical journal Laryngorhinootologie in 2000 showed that the threshold of discomfort was raised to normal in more than half of test patients following progressive muscle relaxation training.
Progressive Relaxation and Guided Meditation Scripts
The following guided meditations are best listened to lying down on your back in a comfortable but straight position. If you can't lie on your back for any reason you can sit in a chair making your back as straight as is comfortable. Some meditations are best listened to with stereo headphones.
1) Basic Progressive Relaxation Script - 10 mins
2) Progressive Muscle Relaxation.wmv - 13min
3) Deep Relaxation for Hypertension - 10 mins
4) Tranquility: Music United with Nature - 38 mins
5) Chronic Pain Management Guided Meditation - 9 mins
6) Guided Meditation to Reduce Headaches & Migraines - 8 mins
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