Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a relaxation technique that engages both the mind and the body to achieve a state of relaxation. By tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups from head to toe, PMR teaches you what a tense muscle feels like, and what a relaxed muscle feels like. The thinking is that when the body is relaxed, the mind follows. Scripts and tapes that walk you through PMR can be purchased online.
Be sure to let your injury and pain level be your guide when tensing involved muscle groups. And as always, be sure to check with your doctor if you have any questions about your ability to perform PMR.
Start by finding a quiet environment and lie on your back. Do not cross your arms or legs. Use a deep breathing exercise for a few minutes to relax, and you are ready to begin. You will tense a muscle group for 5 seconds and then relax that same muscle group completely for 30 seconds. It is the contrast between tense and relaxed muscles that is important to learn to recognize so that you realize when you are holding tension in your body throughout the day.
The following sequence is adapted from Coaches Guide to Sport Psychology, by Rainer Martens, published by Human Kinetics in 1987:
To start, try to practice at least once a day for a week. You can keep track of your heart rate and tension level before and after PMR to measure your progress.