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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Relieving Muscle Tension

With this technique you can learn to recognise where you are holding tension in your muscles and how to relieve it.

Find a quiet place to do this exercise away from distractions – unplug the phone, let people know that you want some quite time for 10-20 minutes. You might like to play a relaxation CD. Lie down on your bed, the sofa or on the floor. Use a pillow or small cushion under your head and neck and one under your knees to take any pressure off your lower back. Make sure you are lying comfortably with your legs slightly parted and your arms beside your body.

Take three deep breathes, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count to 7 on the in breath and 11 on the out breath. Bring your focus to your hands. Clench them tightly for 5-10 seconds and then slowly release them for 20 seconds while breathing normally. Now bring your focus down to the toes on your left foot. Tighten or clench the muscles in your toes in the same way as you did with your hands and release. Then move up your left leg, across your pelvis, and up your right leg. Now come up the front of your body, working on the muscles of your stomach, chest and shoulders. Return to the lower back and work your way up the muscles of your back up to the shoulders. Relax your left shoulder, and work your way down the arm to your fingertips and then move on to the right arm. Now move up your neck, up the back of your head and over the top of the scalp, forehead and finally your face. Tighten and release all the muscles along the way.

As you relax each muscle, let go of any tension. If you feel any areas tensing up again, go back to that area and tighten and release again. You can also repeat this technique on areas that you notice have the most tension.

If you don’t think you will be able to remember the order outlined in this technique, you can start at your head and work down your body to the feet – it will work just as well. Alternatively, you could record the instructions on to a tape and play them back so that you can follow the order.

You can do this technique anywhere really – on the bus, in the queue at the supermarket, or sat at your desk. Not only does this technique help relax your muscles and helps with tension, but it also helps with relaxation and stress relief in general. If you did this exercise everyday, you would start to notice a real difference in how you feel. The more you practice relaxation, the more it will become second nature to you.

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