Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The term Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) refers to the technique of systematic relaxation of muscles beginning usually from the lower limbs of the body and gradually progressing towards the upper half. This technique was developed more than half a century ago by Dr. Edmund Jacobson.
In this technique, the muscles are made tense and held in this state for a few seconds. Then they are relaxed and kept in the relaxed state for an equal period of time. Repeating this cycle of tensioning and relaxing the muscles induces a “deep state of relaxation” as it is commonly known. Over the years this technique has been successfully used to treat physical and mental ailments and has proved very useful to patients who have used it.
The beneficial effects of progressive muscle relaxation are explained below.
1. Reduction in anxiety
Anxiety is accompanied by stiffening of muscles. Therefore relaxing muscles through this technique has an inverse affect and reduces the level of anxiety. This happens because the physical relaxation (of the muscles) calms down the mind and rolls back activities caused by anxiety.
2. Returns heart beat to normal
During anxiety, there is an increased blood flow to the muscles. When this state persists for long, there is an unnecessary strain on the heart which slowly wears down the heart. When progressive muscle relaxation is practiced, the muscles become relaxed. This reduces the need for more blood. As a result the heart slows down gradually. Thus gradual relaxation of muscles reduces the heart beat. This improves the condition of the heart.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
3. Reduction in aches and pains
Several people complain of backache and pain in various parts of their body. Such painful occurrences can be countered by progressive muscles relaxation. While working, the muscles of the back remain tensed for a long time. This causes tiredness and fatigue in the muscles. Progressive muscle relaxation can relax the muscles of the back and bring about a relief from pain. People who suffer from pain in the forearms, shoulders, calf muscles and the muscles of the feet can benefit a lot with this technique. It can also be used to reduce headaches by relaxing the muscles of the head and the neck.
4. Reduction in the effect of phobia
The natural response of people who suffer from various phobias is to become tense which is visible in the form of tensed muscles. By relaxing the muscles through progressive muscle relaxation technique, they can reduce the effect of phobia on their body. By reversing the process, they can gain a little control over their responses to various kinds of phobias.
5. Helps counter insomnia
Insomnia or sleeplessness may be caused by multiple reasons one of which is strained or tensed muscles. People who suffer from sleeplessness can benefit a lot by practicing progressive muscle relaxation. This will loosen their muscles and bring about physical relaxation. This will in turn lead to mental relaxation and allow the person to sleep better.
6. Helps sportspersons keep fit and perform better
Sportspersons suffer from a lot of wear and tear of their muscles. Through progressive muscle relaxation, they can relax their muscles daily and help in the process of recovery. Another advantage is that the deep state of relaxation enables them to perform better during competitions.
7. Helps control and reverse the effects of certain difficult to treat ailments
Certain ailments like ulcers that recur at regular intervals can be controlled and their effects minimized through progressive muscle relaxation. This technique helps arrest the damaging effects of such ulcers. With regular daily practice, these ulcers can be controlled and possibly rolled back. Therefore this technique offers an advantage over surgery which is an invasive process and which also requires time and medicine.
8. Improves concentration
A relaxed state allows for better concentration. Such a relaxed state can be achieved through progressive muscle relaxation technique. Practicing this brings about an immediate relaxation of muscles of the body. A thoroughly relaxed body will lead to a relaxed mind. Concentration is improved when the mind is relaxed.
The above paragraphs explain the benefits of progressive muscle relaxation. It should now be clear that the benefits cover both the body and the mind.