Hypertension and progressive muscle relaxation

(after Jacobsen)

For patients with hypertension it is important to learn to cope with stress. Progressive muscle relaxation helps to loose muscle tension which is caused by stress.

The aim of progressive muscle relaxation is to consciously experience the difference between tensing and relaxation as well as the application of pressure and pressure relief. All the muscles of the body - from head to toe - are consciously tensed and then relaxed again. When the muscle tension caused by stress is loosened, the stress is also released.
The exercises are carried out while sitting with closed eyes .

Progressive muscle relaxation can be used under almost any conditions, be it in the evening before falling asleep, during a meeting, in fear situations, in test situations, in the office, on the train/plane or during a brief break during a long car journey, and many other situations.
Self-tuition is possible with the aid of books, relaxation cassettes or CDs. Courses are also offered in which you have the opportunity to learn the technique of progressive muscle relaxation.

How is it done?

  • First of all, one focuses on a group of muscles, e.g. the right hand. The hand is slowly crunched up into a fist. Feel the tension in the muscles of the right hand and tense the muscles much more.
  • Hold the tension for approx. 5 - 8 seconds.
  • After this, consciously relax the hand for approx 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise.
  • After 40 seconds relaxation, cross over to the next group of muscles.


With time, the participant gets a feel for (tensing) contraction and relaxation. One quickly realises how the number of exercises can be increased, how often the exercises can be repeated and when one should stop in order not to let the positive effect of progressive muscle relaxation become counterproductive. The training is progressive, as the participant learns how to better relax the respective muscle group after a brief contraction phase with progressive practice. This presupposes however, that the technique is regularly practiced.

Hypertension and stress