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Progressive Muscle Relaxation to Relieve Chronic Stress 

What is progressive relaxation? 

Progressive relaxation is a method that targets tense muscles and helps them attain a state of relaxation.

How do I practice progressive relaxation?

You can practice progressive relaxation in a chair or lying down.
  1. Flex each muscle group for 10 seconds then relax for about 30 seconds.
  2. When you release the tension, let it go instantly; let your muscles become suddenly limp. Releasing too slowly actually requires sustained tension.
  3. Repeat this process up to five times per muscle group, especially if the muscles you are tensing are tight and rigid.

Listen to a progressive muscle relaxation technique.

(Audio format: RealPlayer)
Tips for progressive muscle relaxation:
  • When you tighten your muscles, be careful not to over do it. This can result in muscle cramping and pain.
  • Avoid any movement that causes you pain.
  • You may experience deeper relaxation by removing your shoes (and glasses, if you wear them) and wearing loose clothing (no belts or clothes that constrict your body).

Contact Us

For more information about UPMC's Healthy Lifestyle Program
  • Call 800-533-UPMC (8762)
  • E-mail Dr. Bruce Rabin,
    Director, Healthy Lifestyle Program

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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