Deep Muscle Relaxation

We learn to recognise the difference between tension and relaxation by first tensing and then relaxing muscles.


We need to understand what this difference feels like so that we can feel when we are becoming tense and do something about it - that is, learn how to relax.


Most people are not aware of what feeling relaxed is really like.


Practise the deep muscle relaxation for at least 20 minutes every day,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Use the following techniques to practice deep muscle relaxation:

1) Tense and relax each muscle or groups of muscles

2) As you relax each muscle group take a breath, and on the out breath say the word ‘ relax’ to yourself, allowing the tension to melt away.

3) If any of your muscles still do not feel relaxed, tense and relax them again, repeating the instruction above.

It is important and helpful for you to begin to notice which muscles you hold the most tension in when you are carrying out your daily activities. Make regular checks throughout the day to see if tension has built up in them and practise letting them go, using the out breath and saying the word ‘relax’ to yourself. 


A List of Muscles and How to Tense Them

Body Area Instruction  
Hands & Forearms Make a fist  
Biceps (muscle at front of upper arms) Bend your arms at the elbows and try to touch your wrists to your shoulders


Triceps (muscle at back of upper arms) Straighten your arms as hard as you can  
Shoulders Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears  
Upper back & Neck Press your shoulder blades together and press your head backwards  
Forehead  Raise your eyebrows as if surprised  
Brow & Eyelids Squeeze your eyes tightly shut  
Jaw Clench your teeth together  
Tongue & Throat Push your tongue hard against the roof of your mouth  
Chest Take a big deep breath and hold it  
Hips & Lower back Tense the muscles in your lower back and clench your buttocks   
Stomach Tense your stomach muscles  
Legs Straighten out your legs and point your feet away from you  



Dr. Claire Winchurst, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Ms. Caroline Waterstone, Specialist Physiotherapist


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