Mental Health

How To Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation |CNN

How To Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
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How To Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation |CNN

 

Editor’s note: Dana Santas, known as the Mobility creator a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports and is the author of the book Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.

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Stress and anxiety aren’t just experienced in your mind. You feel them in your body, often manifesting as tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is a powerful mind-body relaxation technique that can help you release that tension and relieve the stress and anxiety that has caused it. Even better, you can easily do this in the comfort of your home or anywhere you can lie down or sit quietly for five to 10 minutes.

Numerous studies have shown that progressive muscle relaxation helps relieve anxiety and stress and facilitates sleep for those who are highly stressed, including Covid-19 patients and burn victims. This powerful tool also increases the pain threshold in advanced and surgical cancer patients, according to research.

Because stress isn’t just reserved for those struggling with health issues, PMR is a technique widely used by elite athletes as well. In my work as a mind-body coach in professional sports, I use PMR with many of my athletes.

Progressive muscle relaxation can offer a powerful mind-muscle technique in which systematic tension, thus relaxation of muscles can often be felt and accessed by athletes immediately, said Rob DiBernardo, mental performance coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays.

PMR has an active quality that some athletes appreciate and which can improve body awareness, she added.

This feature makes progressive muscle relaxation a mind-body relaxation practice accessible to anyone, even children, who may struggle with the inactive aspect of meditation or visualization practices.

If you would like to experience the relaxing and soothing benefits of PMR, follow my instructions below.

This practice is best done lying down, but you can also do it from a comfortable seated position. The following directions are based on lying down.

To start, lie on your back, with your legs straight and your arms at your sides. Feel free to place a pillow or towel under your head.

Gently close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Take five long, deep breaths, lengthening the pace of your breathing to at least five or more seconds on each inhalation and five or more seconds on each exhalation.

During this practice, your breath acts as a link between your mind and body, coordinating with every muscle contraction and release.

Inhale as you point your toes up and back, dorsiflexing your ankles and tightening the muscles on the tops of your feet. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you curl your toes under, pointing them down into plantar flexion, tensing the muscles in the bottoms of your feet. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you repeat by pointing your toes up and back, but this time focus your attention on contracting the muscles in the front of your lower legs. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you repeat, curling your toes under and pointing them down, this time focusing on contracting the calf muscles at the back of your lower legs. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you push your kneecaps up and contract the large quadriceps muscles on the front of your legs. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you bend your knees slightly almost imperceptibly to help you access and contract the hamstrings at the back of your upper legs. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale to contract the buttock and pelvic floor muscles. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale and contract your abdomen, pressing your lower back down. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale and, being careful not to cause pain, slightly arch your lower back almost imperceptibly to create tension. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale, fully expanding the rib cage horizontally and creating a sense of tension that envelops the entire chest. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you spread your fingers far and wide, feeling the muscles in your upper hands tense. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you clench your fists, feeling the tension in your fingers. She pauses. She exhales to release and relax.

Inhale as you extend your wrists to pull your hands back, pointing your fingers up so you feel the muscles in your upper forearms contract. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you flex your wrists, pointing your fingers down so you feel the contraction in your forearm muscles. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you extend your elbows and make your arms as long and straight as possible, feeling the triceps muscles in the back of your upper arms contract. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale as you bend your elbows slightly, almost imperceptibly, and contract the bicep muscles on the front of your arms. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale, lifting your rib cage and shoulders towards your ears, creating tension in your upper back, shoulders and neck. He pauses. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale and purse your lips tightly. Break. She exhales to release and relax.

Inhale and open your mouth as wide as possible. Break. Exhale to release and relax.

Inhale and close your eyes tightly wrinkling your nose and pulling your cheeks up. She pauses. She exhales to release and relax.

Inhale and raise your eyebrows as high as possible, feeling your forehead muscles contract. He pauses. Exhale to release and relax.

Take five long, deep breaths as your mind rests in the awareness of your body’s state of total relaxation.

For best results, I recommend exercising daily for a week and then several times a week thereafter.

#Practice #Progressive #Muscle #Relaxation #Cnn

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