Mindfulness is “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non- judgmentally.”
—- Jon Kabat-Zinn
What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation and How Can it Help With My Pain?
Progressive muscle relaxation is a type of mindfulness therapy that was created by Dr. Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s which involves the tightening and relaxing of muscle groups in a certain pattern. The overall goal of progressive muscle relaxation is to reduce tension in the body, promote relaxation, and subsequently reduce pain and stress levels. While creating a physical effect on the body, PMR also can help with mental relaxation. One of the therapeutic concepts PMR draws on is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
What are the benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation?
There is a lot of research that has been done to study the effects of PMR on the body and mind. Benefits include:
- Reduces anxiety and body tension
- Improves sleep
- Eases body pain
- Reduces blood pressure
Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Medical Conditions
Many research studies show that PMR has a therapeutic effect on the self-management of health conditions including:
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disturbances
- TMJ disorders
How to Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Engaging in a progressive muscle relaxation exercise requires you to set up your environment. Make sure you are in a quiet, comfortable room. You may put on some relaxing music in the background and sit comfortably in a chair or sofa. Keep your feet flat on the floor and maintain an upright posture, eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths, expanding your stomach and ribcage as you breathe in, hold for 10 seconds, and breathe out. Begin to notice your bodily sensations. Start by contracting each muscle group, starting from your face, working your way down to your arms, stomach, and legs. Remember to pay attention to your breathing throughout.
If you would like to follow along with an audio clip, below is a 10-minute guided progressive muscle relaxation meditation narrated by our nurse, Ashley Rahman. We will continue to post more meditations for you to follow along with.
Overall, there is evidence that progressive muscle relaxation:
- Reduces tension, anxiety, and pain
- Improves sleep quality and reduces insomnia
- Reduces stress levels, and
- Minimizes other health conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, and migraines.
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” (Chinese Proverb)