Progressive Muscle Relaxation

progressive muscle relaxation theory was put into motion by Edmund Jacobson. His research and interest in this topic started in 1908 at Harvard University and continued throughout his lifetime until his death in 1983. Throughout the years his progressive relaxation technique has been used by many physicians to teach their patients the art of relaxation.

The general idea behind his progressive relaxation theory is that a person is able to persuade their body to relax by tensing each muscle and focus on the tightness of the muscle then totally relax the same muscle and recognize the difference in the feeling between the body parts being tense versus being relaxed. A sample as to how a physician may use progressive muscle relaxation is below.

Read the progressive relaxation exercise through first then attempt to lay flat in a comfortable position or sit comfortably in a chair, do not cross your legs. Your hands should be placed at to the sides of your body. Follow this technique throughout your body and feel the ambiance as your body relaxes through each stage until ultimately you have reached total body relaxation. I would suggest closing the eyes to block out any visual distractions.

Let’s start with your head and work
our way down your body.

With your eyes closed, and your body in a relaxed position, lift your forehead muscles to create tense wrinkles in your forehead, hold the position for approximately 10 seconds and then without making any effort, totally let that muscle relax and fall back to its original positioning. Take a moment to notice the feeling of the relaxed forehead.

Next squeeze your eyes together as hard as you can and again hold for 10 seconds then immediately let go of the tension and let your eyes relax. Feel your eyes as they are when they are totally relaxed.

Wrinkle your nose, hold for the same amount of time and then relax in the same manor.


Do the same for the following body parts:

Mouth/Lips - push out, hold
Jaw - open mouth as wide as you can, hold
Neck – lift your shoulders and squeeze
Shoulders – push them back, hold – push them forward, hold
Lower Back – tighten
Abdomen/Belly – tighten
Buttocks – tighten
Right leg – tighten
Left leg – tighten
Right foot – tighten
Left foot – tighten

When you have successfully completed this progressive muscle relaxation exercise and relaxed your total body, take the time to lay or sit still absorbing the sensations of the relaxed body. Stay this way as long as you can or would like, maybe even splurge and take a nap.

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