Progressive muscle relaxation: how it works

Progressive muscle relaxation: women relax lying down

Progressive muscle relaxation is considered a relaxation technique that can help reduce stress effectively. We explain how it works.

What is progressive muscle relaxation?

Progressive muscle relaxation (also: progressive muscle relaxation or PMR) according to physiologist Edmund Jacobson is an effective method of relaxation, which can be used, for example, to reduce stress and relieve tension. The term "progressive" stands for the inclusion of different muscle groups. In general, muscles are specifically tensed and released when using technology.

Finally relax: how does progressive muscle relaxation work?

Progressive muscle relaxation is easy to do: you only need a quiet place and your own body for your exercises. This is how progressive muscle relaxation works:
  • Take about 20 to 30 minutes for progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Lie down or sit down relaxed.
  • Now tighten different muscle groups of the body in succession from top to bottom for ten seconds and then relax them for 30 seconds. The order is:
  1. Hands: clench your fists, this also trains your forearms
  2. Upper arms: Bend the forearm towards the ceiling, press the upper arms parallel to the chest
  3. Face: frown, grimace, move the jaw from left to right, open mouth wide
  4. Neck and neck: pull your shoulders up and push your head back
  5. Chest: Slightly pull your shoulders back, tighten your chest muscles by inhaling deeply
  6. Belly: tense it and steer it lightly with your lumbar muscles
  7. Back: Go into the hollow back.
  8. Then tighten your chest, stomach, and back again at the same time.
  9. Buttocks: squeeze buttocks.
  10. Thigh: Raise the leg straight, repeat with the other leg.
  11. Lower leg: Bend the instep towards the floor.
  12. Feet: clench your toes.

What are the benefits of progressive muscle relaxation?

Through the training, you learn to feel better in your own body and especially in the muscles. According to various studies, the method has the following advantages:
  • Relieves muscular tension
  • Body awareness increases - you can feel tension more quickly in everyday life and take countermeasures accordingly
  • Calms the autonomic nervous system, which can have positive effects on heartbeat, breathing, digestion, blood pressure, and metabolism
  • Stress can be reduced more easily
  • Symptoms such as chronic pain are reduced or even disappear
  • Strengthens the psyche, which reduces the risk of depressive mood or burnout
  • Sleep disorders subside
Because of all these advantages, progressive muscle relaxation is used both for disease prevention and specifically for physical therapy and psychotherapy.

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