Progressive Muscle Relaxation
One potential positive way of coping with stress is through the use of progressive muscle relaxation. Muscle relaxation is a stress-reduction intervention that consists of systematically tensing and relaxing various muscle groups from head to foot while focusing on the contrasting sensations of tension and relaxation. The goal of the relaxation is to feel the tense muscle and then relax the muscle. It is this relaxation where you can feel the difference thus feeling relaxed. This is important, the feeling of the difference because you need to know when you are tense versus relaxed. Tense muscles are shortened muscles. Shortened muscles mean less performance from these muscles. Research supports progressive muscle relaxation as an empirically validated clinical treatment to reduce negative stress responses. It has become a popular intervention because of its benefits, low cost, level of ease in teaching participants, and effectiveness across a range of populations. There are numerous physiological and psychological benefits of progressive muscle relaxation such as lower blood pressure, cortisol, heart rate, fatigue, anxiety, and pain, as well as increased perceived control, quality sleep, and energy.
In a study with sixteen adolescent soccer players between the ages of 13 and 15. The average score for each of the 6 emotional states scored, were lower after the intervention. This means that the intervention of progressive muscle relaxation allowed the athlete to be more focused on their task. Two examples of what improved are tension and confusion. The average tension score fell from 44.25 to 41.25. The confusion score fell from 47.50 to 45.50. In reference to the cognitive domain, relaxation training has resulted in significant improvements in attention, visuospatial processing, and memory capacity. Furthermore, relaxation techniques have facilitated significant increases in multiple measures of intelligence, greater flexibility in concept learning, along with improved problem-solving ability across age groups from young children to the elderly.
There are several benefits when using muscle relaxation. The overall goal is to get you to understand or feel when muscles are tense, thus stress may be high, you may underperform during a performance. Muscle relaxation helps you feel the tension and the relaxed state so that you can stay relaxed and focus on your performance.