Re: Research Question of the Week: What is Stress?
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-Increasing and then decreasing the tension upon our muscles. While sitting long periods of time in one position certain muscles are always tensed, rather than having this have a "tensing and relaxation period every once in a while. This would include sitting or lying down in a quiet, comfortable setting and tensing and releasing certain muscles of the body. An example of this would be to begin with those of the hand, and then proceeding to the arms, shoulders, neck, face, scalp, chest, stomach, buttocks, ect..Relaxing those muscles can quiet the mind and restore internal balance.
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Here is some additional information on progressive muscle relaxation:
According to Cox, 2002, research has clearly shown progressive relaxation to be effective in invoking a relaxation response. Carlson and Hoyle, 1993, as cited in Cox 2002, report that abbreviated progressive relaxation training also is effective in reducing anxiety tension and stress.
Evidence suggests that PMR can be effective in improving athletic performance when utilised in conjunction with other cognitive techniques such as imagery (according to a review by Greenspan and Feltz, 1989, cited in Cox, 2002). Wrisberg and Anshel, 1989, demonstrated that PMR coupled with imagery work was effective in improving basketball shooting performance. In the study, neither PMR nor imagery alone elicited an enhanced performance. It has also been suggested that muscle relaxation can be effective in increasing an athletes pain tolerance. In pugilistic sports such as boxing, kick-boxing and wrestling this could be to the athlete’s advantage. An increased pain threshold could increase the amount of punishment an athlete could withstand and increase their capacity to “go the distance”. This could, therefore, indirectly improve sporting performance.
Ost (1988) gives outlines on the attainment of the ability to relax in a matter of seconds. The PMR process begins by introducing the individual to the ability to recognise the feeling of tension in comparison to relaxation. A script reader can be used this initial process and it is recommended the individual uses 15min PMR sessions twice daily. As described earlier, the second stage PMR programme is less dependent on a script reader or on the contraction/relaxation technique. The individual can begin to only utilise a “release” feeling in the muscles rather than the pre-contraction experienced in the first phase. This stage of PMR development can be practiced until it takes only 5-7 minutes to complete. The individual then progresses to a third stage of PMR development. This involves the use of controlled relaxation where breathing plays an important role. The time period of relaxation sessions in this stage is further shortened to two to three minutes. The fourth stage of the process is more applied. It involves the individual beginning to apply their relaxation techniques in normal environments and situations such as prior to the execution of sports skill. Here the relaxation process should be condensed to approximately 60 second time periods. The fifth stage sees the relaxation process condensed further to 20-30sec. The relaxation process here is combined with imagery. The individual simultaneously images stressful situations or situations in which relaxation will be essential. The final stage of the process involves the individual utilising the relaxation skills learned during or prior to performance.
Ost recommends individuals keep a diary monitoring their relaxation training. This will allow for individuals to chart their progress and may increase the likelihood of adherence.
Cox, R.,(2002). Sport Psychology, Concepts and applications. (5th ed). McGraw-Hill; London
Ost (1988) Applied Relaxation: Description of an Effective Coping Technique, Scandinavian Journal of Behaviour Therapy 17, p83-90