Relax with progressive muscle relaxation, or PMR, an exercise that involves gently tightening and then releasing a muscle or muscle group. Actively increasing tension and then allowing the tension to release can help muscles relax. This type of exercise is done by relaxing one muscle group at a time, and progressing through each area of the body until all the muscles are relaxed. This is why it is a progressive muscle relaxation.
Before you start this exercise, let’s review a few safety tips. Perform each exercise gently. None of the movements should cause pain or discomfort. Only tighten an area until you feel tension in the muscle. If there are any movements that would be risky for you, for example, if you have an injury, avoid such movements. It is okay to skip an area, reduce the movement, decrease how much you tighten a muscle, or to just think about relaxing the area without tensing it first. Throughout this activity, make sure that you listen to your body. When you tense and then relax an area, it should feel good and more relaxed than before. Don’t do anything that is uncomfortable. If you don’t feel any different at all, it is okay! You still get the benefits of relaxation, even if you feel the same.
Begin this progressive muscle relaxation exercise by getting into a comfortable position. Lying down on your back with your arms at your sides and legs straight is an ideal position. It is also okay to sit in a supportive chair. If you want to, you can close your eyes.
Let’s start at your feet. Curl your toes and tense your feet. Clench your toes tightly as if you were picking something up with your foot. Keep holding this position with both feet. Feel the tension in your feet. Now relax your feet, allowing your toes to straighten. Wiggle your toes a little…and then let your feet completely relax.
Notice how your feet feel now that you have let go of the tension in the muscles of your feet.
This relax with progressive muscle relaxation exercise continues in the audio link below. Listen to Relaxation Audio with Candi every week for a new podcast episode, featuring a variety of relaxation techniques to help you feel relaxed and calm.
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