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Using and Evaluating Stress Management Techniques

This is an excerpt from Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise-4th Edition by Diane Gill,Lavon Williams & Erin Reifsteck.


Relaxation exercises consist of both body-to-mind techniques (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation) and mind-to-body techniques (e.g., meditation). For this lab activity, you will first practice each kind of technique on your own and then apply this experience to describe how stress management techniques may be used in a professional setting.

  1. Do a progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercise. You can use the example provided following this lab or search for other examples online, such as YouTube videos. Complete the pre- and postratings in the Evaluation of Relaxation Techniques form to rate your experience.
  2. Do Benson's relaxation response exercise. To find examples that will guide you in completing this exercise, follow the simple steps provided in the "Meditation" section in this chapter or search online for related resources using the key phrase "Benson relaxation response." Record your pre - post ratings and overall evaluation using the Evaluation of Relaxation Techniques form.
  3. Identify a specific sport- or exercise-related professional setting, such as physical education, physical therapy, or personal training. Describe how and why stress management might be helpful for the participants in this setting (why, when, how they could use it; what it could do for them). In your response, identify two specific techniques or exercises discussed in this chapter and explain how you might use them with these participants.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Example

Progressive muscle relaxation involves progressively tensing and then relaxing muscle groups. As you are doing PMR, pay attention to the feelings of tension and relaxation. The following muscle sequence includes 16 muscle groups. The PMR exercise can be shortened by combining muscle groups. For example, you might combine the foot and leg muscles into one group. As you practice, you can shorten the sessions. The goal of PMR is to learn to recognize tension in any muscle and then be able to relax the muscle.

As you progress through the sequence, tense each muscle group for about 5 seconds. Then relax that muscle group for about 10 seconds while paying attention to the feelings in the muscle group.

PMR Sequence

  1. Right foot
  2. Right lower leg and foot
  3. Entire right leg
  4. Left foot
  5. Left lower leg and foot
  6. Entire left leg
  7. Right hand
  8. Right forearm and hand
  9. Entire right arm
  10. Left hand
  11. Left forearm and hand
  12. Entire left arm
  13. Abdomen
  14. Chest
  15. Neck and shoulders
  16. Face

From D.L. Gill, L. Williams, and E. Reifsteck, 2017, Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise, 4th ed. (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics).

Learn more about Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise, Fourth Edition.