Consult with your doctor before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a suggested sequence of muscle groups to relax, read to the end of this article.
- Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable (you can lay on top of a foam roller to support your spine and head).
- Lay on your back with arms out to your side and palms up, with a slight bend to your knees (or pillow below them).
- Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm (belly button).
- When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Take a deep breath and Hold for a count of 10.
- Exhale and relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
- Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
- When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
- Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.
- It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.
Suggested Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence
- Right foot
- Left foot
- Right calf
- Left calf
- Right thigh
- Left thigh
- Hips and buttocks
- Right arm and hand
- Left arm and hand
- Neck and shoulders