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Contract to Relax, a Guide to Progressive Muscle Relaxation

October 30, 2010

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“Progressive Muscle Relaxation”. Sounds like a complicated way to relieve stress, doesn’t it? I’m going to let you in on how easy is it, and how much it can help relieve some of the stress in your life…and your body.

Backache by Graur Razvan Ionut
When you’re under stress, tension tends to be stored in your muscles, causing headaches, back aches, and any number of aches, pains and illnesses. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is an easy, and very effective way to release that tension. The idea behind it is simple: to focus on specific muscles, contracting each one for 8 to 10 seconds and then releasing, forcing them into deep relaxation. As you progress through the muscle groups, you will find that your mind relaxes as well, creating a deep feeling of calm and contentment. You should start from your feet all the way up the body and then to your shoulders and head. This creates a feeling of the stress lifting up and out through your body. Here’s the sequence to create the best end-result.
  • Find somewhere you can either lay down, or sit comfortable with your head back on a head rest.
  • Take off your shoes, and loosen any tight clothing like belts (makes it easier to contract the muscles).
  • If you’d like, you can create a relaxing mood with dimmed lighting and scented candles.
  • Starting with your feet, concentrate on each muscle or muscle group and contract it for at least 8 seconds. You can do each side individually, or you can do both at the same time (i.e. one foot, or both feet).
  • Still concentrating on the muscle or muscle group, force the muscle to relax deeply, letting it go limp for at least 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Now it’s time to move on to the next muscle group. Here’s the normal progression through the muscle groups: feet, calves, thighs, hips and bottom, stomach, back and chest, hands, upper arms, neck and shoulders, face.
  • For deeper relaxation, use an ointment or cream that aids in relaxation, like Instant Comfort Gel. It’s fragrance free, and helps relieve muscle and joint soreness and stiffness, and promotes a sense of calm in the muscles.

This process can be modified for your particular situation. You can do it at work in your chair. You can do it at dinner or while you’re watching TV. You can even do it in the car, sitting at a stoplight. But remember to be safe, and don’t do it while you’re driving. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a fantastic way to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to face any of life’s challenges.


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