It’s no secret that I love partner exercises, especially for flexibility. But have you ever used a partner to help you learn how to relax your muscles?
I learned this technique when I was in college, from a random fitness class I took. I wish I remembered anything about the class other than the technique so I could give credit where credit is due.
Here is how it works. The partner being relaxed (henceforth called you) stands, takes a deep breath, and remains standing, feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. The partner assisting the relaxing (henceforth called the helper) grabs your arm with both of their hands. The helper moves your forearm around your elbow, slowly and randomly. They also move your entire arm around your shoulder. Your job is to stay totally relaxed and not to “help” them or pull away at all. Imagine your arm is made of lead. This will be harder to do than you expect.
The helper’s job is to stop the movement whenever you help or push back, and to remind you to relax. They are not allowed to keep moving until you are full relaxed. They should move your arm around your full mobility range. Change arms.
Lay down on the floor and have them do the same thing for both your legs- move your bent leg around at random, stopping whenever you tense up or help. Most people find this incredibly difficult, but it teaches you to be aware of what your muscles are doing and helps you relax deeply.
Thank your partner and switch roles.