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Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD
June 13, 2024
June 13, 2024

Ever struggled with muscle soreness disrupting your sleep? We've all been there. With countless relaxation methods like meditation, aromatherapy, and music therapy, it's hard to choose. But the secret isn't in which is best, it's finding what works for you. So, if you haven't tried Progressive Muscle Relaxation, give it a go!

What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a method where you purposely tense and then relax different muscle groups to help you reach a deep state of relaxation. Dr. Edmund Jacobson came up with this innovative approach in the 1920s and shifted how we think about mental and physical well-being. The core idea of progressive muscle relaxation is to demonstrate how closely the mind and body are connected. When you experience feelings like anxiety, stress, or fear, your muscles can get tense. PMR aims to teach you how to take control and bring your body back to a more calm and relaxed state.

5 Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

  1. Deep Relaxation: Practice makes perfect and the same goes for using your mind to control your muscles. When you consciously train your body to engage in the process of tensing and releasing muscles, it becomes more sensitive to physical sensations. This increased awareness allows you to consciously use your mind to achieve deep relaxation and let go of accumulated stress and anxiety.
  2. Improved Sleep Quality: Remember when I mentioned at the beginning of this article that sore muscles have affected my sleep quality? If you've been experiencing insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns, PMR can be a valuable tool to promote relaxation for both the body and the mind before bedtime.
  3. Muscle Tension Relief: As the name suggests, PMR is highly effective in reducing muscle tension. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing chronic pain or discomfort. If you're familiar with yoga, your instructor might guide you to tighten and squeeze your muscles before Savasana, the final relaxation pose. This technique mirrors PMR, where the act of squeezing is followed by deep relaxation.
  4. Enhanced Mind-Body Awareness: Through the practice of PMR, you develop a heightened awareness of your own body. Ever tried strength training exercises? Your trainer may have emphasized the mind-muscle connection – it's the same concept, except here, you're not actively moving but simply focusing and feeling.
  5. Lower Blood Pressure: Some studies have found that PMR has been associated with reductions in blood pressure. While more research is needed to measure the efficacy of this technique, there are virtually no side effects of PMR. So, if you haven’t tried it, give it a chance and see how you like it!  If it works for you, then great! Keep it. And if it does not, it’s okay as well; just move on to the next relaxation technique.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) stands out as a straightforward yet impactful technique. It offers a range of benefits for both physical and mental health. However, if you're dealing with specific muscle conditions or injuries, it's critical to be mindful of any discomfort or pain that may arise during the process of tensing and releasing muscles. Don’t forget that you can always adjust the intensity and repetitions of tensing/relaxing muscles as needed to prevent the exacerbation of existing issues. Always ensure that you consult your doctor first to ensure that the chosen approach aligns with your individual health needs and circumstances.

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