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Top 7 Tips To Recognize Muscle Tension To Relax Yourself
By Raymond Lee
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Before you can learn to relax you must first be able to recognize tension. I have seen many classes where members were told to relax, and they and the teacher believed they had been successful when, in fact, their muscles were still tense. Some people have acquired the habit of muscle tension over a great many years and are so accustomed to it that they are unaware of inappropriate contraction of muscles. It is no use telling such people to relax; they are quite unaware they are tense or what it feels like to be relaxed. Knowledge is required about the state of the muscles. Here are some tips that you can consider to adopt to relax yourself.
- Recognizing Tension By Touch
The most natural and also one of the most effective methods of assessing muscle tension and relaxation is by touch, by actually feeling the difference between a tense, contracted muscle and a soft resting one, either on yourself or on other people. You can feel the varying degrees of tension in your arm in the following way. Reach across with one hand and take hold of the top of your upper arm. Raise that arm a little and make the whole of it tense. You will feel the muscle go tight and hard. Feel all over the arm. Then let the arm rest by your side and feel the difference. The muscles are soft and you can get hold of handfuls of flesh. Now do this again but without actually moving the arm, just prepare to lift it. As you do this you will feel a differing degree of tension. This is the sort of contraction you make when you are on the alert and ready fro action. Release the tension and feel the contrast. You will notice that, when it is soft and relaxed, your shoulder has dropped also and is no longer held tightly.
- Learning By Observation
Another way of recognizing tension is to observe movement in other people. Watch dancers, golfers, musicians, even someone beating an egg or driving a car and spot the tense and relaxed phases of the movement. Grace and ease of movement are the result of economy of effort with muscles contracting only when they are needed. Look out for tension in other people and notice tight shoulders, neck, ankles. Some people remain tense when they are asleep.
- Partner Testing Relaxation In Neck Muscles
Kneel behind your partner who lies on his/her back with knees bent. Cup your hands under your head and lift it very gently just a little way. Feel the weight of it. If the neck muscles are relaxed, the head offers no resistance. If the muscles are tense you can see the tendons standing out as the muscles lift the head.
- Feeling Tension In Hands
Grasp one wrist with the other hand. Grip it tightly so that your muscles show white and you are actually holding up the underneath hand. Feel the strength of this grip on your resting hand. Now release the tension and feel the difference; the fingers on the top hand are feather-light and the underneath hand is giving all the support. Try to notice when you hold your hands tight during the day, and notice other people too.
- Feeling Tension In Neck Muscles
Feel the muscles in the back of your neck by taking hold of them as though you were picking a cat up by the scruff of its neck. If your head is resting easily the muscles are soft. Keep hold and slowly jut your head forward to the tense position. You will feel the muscles go tight and hard under your hand. You can sometimes see tramlines of tension in these muscles.
- Testing Relaxation With A Partner
Try this out on your friends and see whether they can relax arm muscles. Place one hand under the wrist and the other under the elbow. Lift the arm and if it is relaxed it will feel heavy and limp. You will be able to move it easily because your partner neither helps or hinders the movement. If you let go it will immediately drop to the side. Some people will resist the movement or tighten up to offer the arm to you. Others really relax and you can tell this at once. By testing this way, even if your partner cannot relax, it gives you an idea of what tension and relaxation feels like, and also of the wide variety of individual differences between people.
- Learning By Contrasting Contraction And Relaxation Of Muscles
This method is favoured by clinical psychologists, behavioural therapists and many relaxation teachers. It involves a systematic routine of contracting strongly each group of muscles of the body in turn and then releasing the tension. All parts of the body are involved and learning and practice take a long time. These strong contractions certainly help many people recognize the difference between tension and relaxation but there is now evidence that some anxious people find it difficult to dissipate the tension and are actually more tense afterwards.
Raymond Lee is one of the foremost experts in the health and fitness industry and is the Founder of Bodyfixes Group specializing in body health, muscle development and dieting. He is currently the author of the latest edition of "Neck Exercises and Workouts." Visit http://www.bodyfixes.com for more information.
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Article Submitted On: January 12, 2008