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October 31, 2023

Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique formulated and used by physician and physiologist Edmund Jacobson. It is a systematic technique for relaxing the skeletal muscles. During an increase in arousal/activation (fear, anxiety, nervousness, etc.) the person experiences a corresponding increase in muscle tone stimulation. This increase leads to muscle contraction which may be noticeable or imperceptible. The reduction in muscle tension (muscle tone) leads to a reduction in mental tension and creates a sense of calm. At the same time there is an effect on the autonomic nervous system, i.e. activation of the parasympathetic system (relaxation), with a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate.

The basic principle of this technique is the conscious contraction and then relaxation of various muscle groups with concentration of attention on the process. The practitioner vigorously monitors both the muscle tension during the contraction and the upcoming relaxation of each muscle group. Progressively, many muscle groups are contracted and the resulting relaxation is correspondingly progressive. As a result of the relaxation state, muscles in which there is no immediate possibility of relaxation, such as the stomach and intestine, also relax.

This basic element of progressive muscle relaxation is intended to allow the practitioner to observe the tension and then the relaxation during its application, but especially to observe the difference between the two sensations. Gradually, the individual acquires sensitivity to the sensations of tension in various parts of the body and a keen ability to reduce or eliminate tension. Another outstanding feature is the ability of the body to produce relaxation at the point of any contraction, making this technique highly effective and one of the most widely used and researched techniques in Europe, along with Schultz’s autogenic exercise.

Progressive muscle relaxation can be used in the following areas:

Emotional and psychological clues:

– Phobias

– Fears

– Neuroses and neurotic behaviours

– Indispositions

– Depression

– Reactions to stress

– Sexual dysfunctions etc.

Physical signs:

– Sleep problems

– Headaches

– Back pains

– Tinnitus

– Hyperactivity

– Concentration problems

– Hypertension

– Indigestion

– Teeth grinding etc.

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