Progressive muscle relaxation

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Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique for learning to monitor and control the state of muscular tension. It was developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the early 1920s.[1]

Dr Jacobson wrote several books on the subject of Progressive Relaxation. The technique involves learning to monitor tension in each specific muscle group in the body by deliberately inducing tension in each group. This tension is then released, with attention paid to the contrast between tension and relaxation. These learning sessions are not exercises or self-hypnosis.

A modification of the technique is "Biofeedback" in which one uses external measuring devices to indicate how successful one is in relaxing and then to use those techniques to relax without the help of external measuring devices.

In the training sessions which are started in a darkened room with the learner in a reclined position and eyes closed. The learner is told to relax, just let go. If the learner has any thoughts or physical distractions, just relax. Do not try to solve the problem. In each session the teacher reviews tensing one particular muscle group. If the student is slow in learning how to let the tension go for a particular muscle group, that group is focused on in the next session. The learner is told to continue to practice the relaxation technique in their daily lives. It is not our natural response to relax when there is an external or internal stimulant. However, as in many other physical conditions that we have no control over, the body's best response would be no response at all.[2]

Jacobson's Progressive Relaxation has remained popular with modern physical therapists.[3]


  1. ^ Jacobson, E. (1938). Progressive relaxation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  2. ^ Craske & Barlow (2006), Worry, Oxford University Press, p. 53, ISBN 0-19-530001-7 
  3. ^ Craske & Barlow (2006), Worry, Oxford University Press, p. 53, ISBN 0-19-530001-7 

See also[edit]