Health Hint: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing specific muscle groups and then relaxing them to create awareness of tension and relaxation. It is termed progressive because it proceeds through all major muscle groups, relaxing them one at a time, and eventually leads to total muscle relaxation.


Step 1. Assume a comfortable position. You may lie down; loosen any tight clothing, close your eyes and be quiet.

Step 2. Assume a passive attitude. Focus on yourself and on achieving relaxation in specific body muscles. Tune out all other thoughts.

Step 3. Tense and relax each muscle group as follows:

Step 4. Focus on any muscles which may still be tense. If any muscle remains tense, tighten and relax that specific muscle three or four times.

Step 5. Fix the feeling of relaxation in your mind. Resolve to repeat the process again.

Remember, people respond differently to various activities. Some feel pleasant or refreshed, and others feel calm and relaxed after an activity like this one. Some people notice little change the first time, but with practice, their control increases - as well as the benefits. If you practice this activity, your relaxation should increase.

The materials on this website were made possible by Grant Number 1 R25 AT0 0529-01A1 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NCCAM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The contents are solely the responsibility of the EDCAM project staff and contributors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCCAM or NIH.