The Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation
What's a little neuroses among friends? Not much nowadays. Mental disorders are shockingly
common in modern, industrialized societies. There are many reasons for this, including poor diet,
chronic stress, lack of social support, lack of sleep and so on. Low testosterone can also increase
anxiety, mood disorders and depression. Regardless of the reason, men are struggling with
maintaining mental health and very often turning to pharmaceuticals for help.
This is problematic for many reasons including the many side effects of the
typical drugs in this class. And long term safetly is
simply not known either. Even worse, these medications often punch
below the belt and lead to erectile dysfunction, orgasmic dysfunction or loss of
libido. (See this link on
Erectile Dysfunction Drugs for some
Sadly, many men turn to a pharmaceutical answer simply because it's easy and
seems legitimized by the fact a physician recommended it without even thinking
there might be a more natural alternative. Here is where Progressive
Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can step into help and provide huge benefits. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
is a very simple technique that can be done by anyone in a relatively short
amount of time.
Need to boost your Nitric Oxide naturally through food, drink and supplements? Check out Lee Myer's book here:
The Peak Erectile Strength Diet
Or do you need the most comprehensive testosterone book in Amazon? Here it is:
Natural Versus Testosterone Therapy
And it has huge benefits. Most of these benefits are in the psychological
realm, because PMR is a proven cortisol reducer. However, Progressive
Muscle Relaxation also has the huge benefit of optimizing testosterone and
erection through this same cortisol-lowering mechanism. Remember: anytime you
lower cortisol, you are likely going to support and even improve
testosterone (and muscle gains).
(NOTE: Elevated cortisol can even destroy neurons!
In fact, I have a number of (I hope) informative articles on
How Cortisol Affects Men.
Remember that one of our biggest enemies is cortisol. In fact, I have a number
of (I hope) informative articles on
How Cortisol Affects Men. And PMR is a
specialist when it comes to cortisol control. Again, although, no studies echo
this, anything that effective manages cortisol, stress and poor mental states is
going to improve erection-related issues (and relationships in general).
What about meditation instead? Meditation is great but 1) generally
requires a greater time commitment and 2) often comes with spiritual overtones
which makes many men uncomfortable. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a
straightforward,. secular technique widely used in the psychological community that was designed by a physician and
psychotherapist, i.e. no gurus need be involved. (There are several good
books and many web articles on secular meditation as well for those interested.)
So consider these 15 Great Benefits of Progressive Muscle Relaxation and get
1. Blood Pressure. One study out of Taiwan on men with hypertension (high
blood pressure) showed that PMR had an immediate effect on both systolic and
diastolic blood pressure, lowering them by an average of 5.44 and 3.48 mm,
respectively.  And four weeks later, the participants had any additonal
decreases in blood pressure of 5.1 and 3.1 mm, respectively.
These are very respectable improvements, but one study showed even more amazing
gains. For even more - more than 30 actually - ways to lower blood pressure, see
the this link on
Erectile Dysfunction and Hypertension.
2. Pulse. The first study above showed a powerful ability to lower pulse
rate, lowering it by 2.35 beats/min initially and 2.9 beat/min additionally (after
four weeks).  For more information on the important of your heart rate, see
the this link on
Pulse and Cardiovascular Health.
3. Cortisol. Progressive Muscle Relaxation has been shown in several
studies to decrease cortisol levels. Furthermore, it works very well even when
the abbreviated form of PMR is used. 
4. Dopamine. PMR, at least, was found in Parkinson's patients to increase
dopamine levels.  Many of us, undoubtedly, have lost some of our ability to
make dopamine as we age and thus it seems likely that PMR can raise dopamine
somewhat even in non-Parkinson's men.
5. Anxiety. A number of studies have shown in a variety of
populations that Progressive Muscle Relaxation can help relieve the actual symptoms of
stress as well. For example, one study of victims with cancer showed that PMR was
as very close to being as effective as a medication cocktail.  PMR did the
same thing with patients who were suffering from chronic breathing difficulties.
6. Depression. Both of the above studies showed patients
significantly improving their depression.  Again, these studies and a few
other like them show that this simple relaxation technique helps the men that
need it most. The higher your stress, the more likely Progressive Muscle
Relaxation is to make a big difference. For additional information, see this
link on Research-Backed Depression Cures.
7. Insomnia. Many studies have shown that Progressive Muscle Relaxation
help with many kinds of insomnia. I know that I have received
significant positive feedback after giving this to many men to help with falling
asleep. For other research-backed methods, see this link on
Practical Sleep Aids.
8. Neurotic Persons. Are you a high stress person? One study showed that
PMR helped lower the stress response in neurotic individuals.  It will likely help
almost anyone under chronic stress and acting a little "eccentric" as well.
9) Unusually Stressful Situations. Several studies show that muscle relaxation can
help with stressful situations, one of the most severe being a study on chemo
patients.  It also decreased the nausea and vomiting associated before and
after the therapy.
10. Panic Disorder. A couple of studies show that PMR can help reduce symptoms of
panic disorder.  However, it doesn't seem to work in all patients in this
area, but is
certainly worth a try. It may best be used incombination with other therapies.
One study found that it improved signficantly 38% of patients though, even when
used by itself. 
11. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Returning war veterans and many other
men who have suffered a traumatic past can suffer from this debilitating
condition that is
very hard on heart and brain health. Progressive Muscle Relaxation has
done well in a couple of studies with PTSD, both solo and in conjunction with
other therapies. 
12. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). One study showed good results and the authors wrote that "Both individual and group interventions proved to be equally effective at reducing distress caused by OCD symptoms, general depression, and anxiety by the end of treatment, although patients in the individual behavior therapy condition demonstrated faster reductions in OCD symptom severity. Patients in the group and individual behavioral interventions were able to maintain their gains at 6-month follow-up. Implications of these findings for outpatient treatment are discussed.." 
13. Handling Stress. Many studies have shown that practitioners
manage stress more effectively than controls.  PMR affects the stress hormone - see
#3 - as well as perceived stress and stress reactions as well.
14. Inflammation (TNF Alpha and IL-6). A number of studies have
shown that many men can lower their TNF alpha and IL-6 through PMR. The two cytokines
play a valuable role in the body but also trigger the nasty inflammatory cascades that
cause so many problems and lead to hardening of the arteries, diabetes and many autoimmune
disease and cancers. One study took second year med students - a pretty stressed out crowd if there ever was one -
and put them under stress. It was found that those who practice Progressive Muscle
Relaxation twice per day (for 15 minutes using an Abbreviated form that concentrated
on the upper extremities) had greatly
reduced TNF alpha levels (and IL-6).  If your stress levels are low, the benefit
will undoubtedly be less, but how many reading this are not under a nearly constant
assault of various stressors that are part of modern life?
15. Memory. It is no secret that cortisol is hard on neurons and
the brain in general. Stress can literally unwire your neurons and one of the most
vulnerable locations is the hippocampus, which has been shown to actually shrink
under a variety of stressful conditions. This is why several studies have found
that PMR can increase memory in several subpopulations, such as seniors and those with
mild to medium dementia.  If you are middle-aged or beyond, you will very likely
experience a memory boost from regular practice.
As you can see, Progressive Muscle Relaxation helps with almost every major
psychological issue. Few doubt that it will not help with the everyday
stressors of life and offer cognitive and psychological protection and
maintenance at the same time.ors of life and offer cognitive and psychological protection and
maintenance at the same time.
HOW DO YOU DO PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION? One of the nice things about Progressive Muscle Relaxation is that it is
very easy to do. Medititation can take significantly more discipline and experience - it's well worth it of course! - but with PMR you can get
started almost instantly. Basically, you just tense and release all the muscle groups one by one.
I have always started at my feet and worked my way up to the face. However, you can start north and head south as well. I tense for about 10 seconds and
then release for 20 seconds and do this most nights before sleep, because it is so helpful in getting me to instantly fall asleep.
Here is an article that describes more detail as to how to do it but recommends 5 seconds of tension and 10 of release:
PMR Protocol (Australian Government Site). The key thing is that you should feel VERY relaxed after doing this, and, of course,
you don't want to overtense any injured areas.
WEIGHT LIFTERS: Notice that PMR will likely help protect your hard-earned muscle
by limiting cortisol levels.
1) Holist Nurs Pract., 2003 Jan-Feb, 17(1):41-7. "Effects of progressive
muscle relaxation on blood pressure and psychosocial status for clients with
essential hypertension in Taiwan"
2) JCO, June 1991, 9(6):1004-1011, "A randomized clinical trial of alprazolam
versus progressive muscle relaxation in cancer patients with anxiety and
3) Psychother Psychosom 2008;77:119-125, "Effects of Progressive Muscle
Relaxation Training on Anxiety and Depression in Patients Enrolled in an
Outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program"
4) APPLIED PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY AND BIOFEEDBACK, 1976, 1(3):253-271, "Biofeedback and
progressive relaxation treatment of sleep-onset insomnia: A controlled,
5) Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Sep 1983,
14(3):251-256, "Treatment of insomnia in cancer patients using muscle relaxation
6) Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Jun 1974, 83(3):253-260, "A comparison of
progressive relaxation and autogenic training as treatments for insomnia"
7) Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Jun 1978, 46(3):389-404, "Psychophysiological effects of progressive relaxation in anxiety neurotic patients and of progressive relaxation and alpha feedback in nonpatients"
8) SUPPORTIVE CARE IN CANCER, (2005), 13(10):826-833, "Efficacy of progressive
muscle relaxation training and guided imagery in reducing chemotherapy side
effects in patients with breast cancer and in improving their quality of life"
9) Behavior Therapy, Spring 1989, 20(2):261–282, "Behavioral treatment of panic
10) Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2988, 26(1):13-22, "Applied relaxation vs
progressive relaxation in the treatment of panic disorder"
11) Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Dec 1994,
25(4):283–291, "A trial of eye movement desensitization compared to image
habituation training and applied muscle relaxation in post-traumatic stress
12) Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Aug 1992, 9(4):365–370, "The treatment
of substance abusers diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder: An outcome
13) APPLIED PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY AND BIOFEEDBACK, 2005, 30(4):375-387, "The Impact of
Abbreviated Progressive Muscle Relaxation on Salivary Cortisol and Salivary
Immunoglobulin A (sIgA)"
14) Biological Psychology, July 2002, 60(1):1-16, "The impact of abbreviated
progressivemuscle relaxation on salivary cortisol"
15) International Journal of Stress Management, Aug 2006, 13(3):273-290, "Effects
of a single session of large-group meditation and progressive muscle relaxation
training on stress reduction, reactivity, and recovery"
16) Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Jul 2002, 6(3):177-182,
"Parkinson's disease symptoms are differentially affected by massage therapy vs.
progressivemusclerelaxation: a pilot study"
19) Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Dec 2001, 51(6):721-728, "The effects of
stress management on symptoms of upperrespiratory tract infection, secretory
immunoglobulin A, and mood in young adults"
20) Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Accepted Jun 27 2008, "Counter-stress effects of
relaxation on proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines"
21) Exp Aging Res, 1984 Winter;10(4):211-4, "Effects of relaxation and mnemonics
on memory, attention and anxiety in the elderly"
22) Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 1999, 9(1):31-34, "Progressive Muscle
Relaxation in the Management of Behavioural Disturbance in Alzheimer's Disease"
23) Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, Mar 1993, 181(3), "A Comparison of Behavioral Group Therapy and Individual Behavior Therapy in Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder"