What Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation, How Does It Work And Who May Benefit From It?

Roberta Lee, M.D, Beth Israel

Question: What is progressive muscle relaxation, how does it work and who may benefit from it?

Answer: Progressive muscle relaxation is a form of going through the body and actually consciously relaxing every part of your body. In other words, if I was doing progressive relaxation with one of my patients, I would start suggesting envisioning relaxing all the muscles around the eyes and the jaw and the mouth and then progressing down to relaxing all the muscles in the neck and the shoulders and abdomen and so forth.

The mind is a powerful instrument. If we begin to use our other senses such as visualizing, it helps us connect with our relaxation response, and that helps our muscles take a different tone. In other words, if we're stressed we suddenly are able to consciously relax all the muscles.

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