Relaxation Training with and without Muscle Contraction in Subjects with Psychophysiological Disorders


  • Authors' Notes. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not reflect an endorsement by or the official policy of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. We would like to thank Julie Collins for her assistance in editing this manuscript. Jeffrey A. Cigrang is now at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

Alan L. Peterson, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Behavioral Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7550 Interstate Highway 10 West, Suite 1325, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA. E-mail:


Relaxation training with and without muscle contraction was evaluated in 30 adult patients undergoing biofeedback for psychophysiological disorders. Participants were randomized to two sessions of relaxation training with the type of training randomly determined for the first test session. Surface electromyographic activity was significantly lower during relaxation with muscle contraction (M ± SD: 4.68 ± 2.92 µV) compared to relaxation without muscle contraction (M ± SD: 5.91 ± 4.07 µV) (t(29) = 2.44, p = .021). Participants were about twice as likely to report that they preferred relaxation training without muscle contraction (53.3%) over training with muscle contraction (23.3%). No significant differences were found for fingertip temperature. The implications for the use of relaxation training in clinical practice are discussed.