Show Menu

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Step By Step Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Step By Step

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Progre­ssive muscle relaxation (PMR) is: “an effective and widely used strategy for stress relief that creates a state of deep relaxation by involving alternate tensing and relaxing of muscles” (Sundram et al., 2016).

The section below lists a few scripts for PMR that one can follow. For an idea of what PMR looks like, though, here is a short step-b­y-step descri­ption of the practice (adapted from the PDF from the Centre for Clinical Interv­ent­ions, the third script listed below). Each muscle should be tensed for about 5 seconds (but not tensed to the point of pain), then relaxed for about 10 seconds:

When & Why It Is Used In Therapy

Progre­ssive muscle relaxation is useful for conditions which cannot be completely treated through pharma­col­ogical means, such as dementia (Ikemata & Momose, 2017). Even for conditions which respond well to pharma­col­ogical treatment, “[a] non-drug method of inducing relaxation has little if any risk and therefore may be preferred over drug methods” (Canter et al., 1975). PMR can also be useful as a supplement in cases where someone is undergoing pharma­col­ogical treatment, as it is not a pharma­col­ogical interv­ention and does not pose any intera­ction risks.

While PMR is an effective interv­ention for a number of conditions (and is even effective for mentally- and physic­all­y-h­ealthy people), it can take a lot of therapy sessions to complete. For this reason, resear­chers have developed abbrev­iated progre­ssive muscle relaxation (APMR), which can succes­sfully promote relaxation in a single, 20-minute session (Dolbier & Rush, 2012).

Supple­mentary Treatment

PMR is a partic­ularly useful supple­mentary treatment for certain psycho­logical condit­ions. In people trying to quit smoking, PMR has been shown to be effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms such as craving (Limsanon & Kalaya­siri, 2015). Another study examining PMR in people with schizo­phrenia concluded that PMR was a useful “add-on treatment” that could reduce anxiety and stress levels and increase well-being (Vanca­mpfort et al., 2013). These authors also note that PMR can be a useful therap­eutic interv­ention since they found no major adverse effects from PMR, and since PMR can be implem­ented at “minimal cost”.

Step by Step

Find a quiet, non-di­str­acting place to relax, either lying down or in a comfor­table chair:
Tense your right hand and forearm
Relax your right hand and forearm
Tense your right upper arm
Relax your right upper arm
Tense your left hand and forearm
Relax your left hand and forearm
Tense your left upper arm
Relax your left upper arm
Tense your forehead
Relax your forehead
Tense your eyes and cheeks

section 2

Relax your eyes and cheeks
Tense your mouth and jaw
Relax your mouth and jaw
Tense your neck
Relax your neck
Tense your shoulders
Relax your shoulders
Tense your shoulder blades and back
Relax your shoulder blades and back
Tense your chest and stomach
Relax your chest and stomach
Tense your hips and buttocks

Section 3

Relax your hips and buttocks
Tense your right upper leg
Relax your right upper leg
Tense your right lower leg
Relax your right lower leg
Tense your right foot
Relax your right foot
Tense your left upper leg
Relax your left upper leg
Tense your left lower leg
Relax your left lower leg
Tense your left foot
Relax your left foot
Stay relaxed for a bit, then slowly return to daily life

Support Cheatography!