Athletes strive to be the best. Whether that means beating others in competition or besting themselves, they are constantly training to achieve victory. At the end of the day, however, one athlete or one team is the ultimate victor. Coaches and other athletes examine the training methods used by the winners to determine what the best way to train is if they want the same result. Yet despite copying the same physical training methods as the best, a difference in performance during competition would sometimes remain. That is when the sporting world began to examine the mental strengths that make a champion and to create drills and techniques for improving mental toughness.
The idea behind progessive relaxation (PR) exercises is to eventually be able to automatically release tension from the muscles. A relaxed body then leads to a relaxed mind. When doing PR it is helpful to have good breathing technique and to incorporate stretching or physical activity of some sort, such as walking or yoga.
Breathing correctly is nature’s automatic relaxant. When a person takes a deep, diaphragmatic breath the muscles along the back involuntarily relax as part of the movement. Since the shoulder muscles are largely tied into the lumbar support muscles of the spine this effect cascades throughout the upper torso. Additionally, the amount of oxygen in the blood increases, and breath rate slows, both of which enhance concentration and physical performance.
In stressful, high anxiety situations, breathing is usually either too rapid or too shallow. Sometimes people even hold their breath at various stages on a continual basis. This type of breathing increases tension in the muscles, impairs precise muscle control, and reduces concentration ability. Therefore, proper breathing is a core part of every relaxation technique and a good first step towards improving skill in relaxation. Continue reading Relaxation Technique – proper breathing