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There are many ways to relax muscles, and the best ways are somewhat open to debate. One of the more common methods is a series of exercises called progressive muscle relaxation where the patient focuses on relaxing each muscle separately. Other common methods include physical exercise, mental techniques, and the use of warm water in a bath or whirlpool. Some people even rely on medications, especially if the muscles are injured or causing severe pain.
Progressive muscle relaxation is one of the more recommended methods to relax muscles, and it works by teaching the patient to be more aware of muscle tension. Usually when people use this method, they will focus their attention on actually flexing each muscle first, so that there is an awareness of the tension, then the person will focus on relaxing the tension. Usually, people will go through this exercise focusing on different muscle groups in a sequence until they are all fully relaxed.
Some people also like to do stretching exercises as a way to relax muscles. Stretches can potentially have a similar effect on progressive muscle relaxation, and many people believe that stretches help relieve tension by reducing stiffness and getting blood flowing through the muscles. It's also generally true that when muscles get tired, they tend to relax on their own, and some people may not be active enough in their daily lives to get this effect. Any kind of exercise could potentially help in this regard, and most exercises will increase blood flow to the muscles, which may also be helpful.
For some individuals, the process of trying to relax muscles can work in tandem with relaxing the mind and calming the emotions. People may get nervous or upset about things going on in their lives, and they might not realize that these feelings are also causing tension in their bodies. Some people rely on mediation or other mental relaxation exercises to help relax their whole body when these problems arise, and many meditation routines actually include conscious physical relaxation as an integral part of the process.
Water is generally well-known for its ability to relax muscles, especially warm water. Many people like to take a hot bath when they feel tense, and others go further and use a sauna with moving water. A warm shower can have many of the same effects, although the person is usually standing in a shower, which may limit relaxation to some extent.
When someone suffers some kind of muscle injury, doctors will occasionally prescribe muscle-relaxing drugs as a way to avoid pain. There are many different kinds of drugs for this purpose, some of which are rather mild and some of which are much more powerful. This method of relaxing muscles isn't necessarily practical for day-to-day use because the drugs often have long-term side-effects. In some cases, doctors may also prescribe these drugs as sleep aids, but side effects can still be a concern.
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