The tense-release relaxation technique is a simple exercise for anyone. It is easy to do and provides you with quick and easy relief from pain and tension.
This is simply an exercise to allow you and your partner to see and feel the difference between relaxed muscles and tense muscles. The body observation is very important and will become second nature the more you practice, even when doing other relaxation techniques.
Start by getting in a comfortable position, where your partner can see the majority of your body. Use pillows to get comfortable and prevent unwanted tension. Start by having your partner tell you to tense a particular part of the body and then feel that part of the body for the feeling of tension.
Then the partner will say, "Relax." Try to say this in a very soothing voice. Now feel the difference in the relaxed muscle.
Go through each muscle group at least once, and preferably in order from head to toe or toe to head. (Once you get the hang of it the order is not necessarily needed or specific. It is possible to simply pick out the tense parts of the body and simply focus on those parts.)
Once you've finished, spot check for areas that you know are prone to tension, the shoulders, the neck, the brow, the jaw, whatever is the place your partner hides tension the most.
When you've worked through this exercise just lie still and focus on the in and out of your breath and make note of how your body feels when it is completely relaxed. This is a memory for you to keep. Focus on returning to this state when tense.
Dads and doulas can help by observing for tense spots. Common areas of tense include:
- lower back
- anywhere you have previously identified in practice
If you see a tense spot, be sure to do a quick tension and release of tension in that spot. You may also begin to be able to simply touch that area and say "release" to help her relax that specific area.