Doctor Benson originally described the Relaxation Response ("RR") in the 1970’s. Using the Relaxation Response throughout the surgery process can help to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Control nausea
  • Enhance immune system function
  • Improve respiratory function

The Relaxation Response is a state of deep relaxation in which there are specific physiological changes that are the exact opposite of the stress response and includes a decrease in:

  • Heart rate
  • Respiration rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Skeletal muscle tension
  • Metabolic rate
  • Oxygen consumption

There are many methods to achieve the Relaxation Response, including breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, visualizing a peaceful scene, and meditation.


Given the frequent time constraints on a back surgery preparation program, a simple deep breathing exercise tends to be the quickest and easiest to master. It involves learning how to breathe diaphragmatically in a slow, paced fashion. Positive attributes of this approach include:

  • Mastering this technique only requires about ten minutes of practice twice per day
  • Practice can produce results within one or two weeks
  • Practice allows the patient to elicit the Relaxation Response very quickly in stressful situations
  • Once mastered, the Relaxation Response is a powerful tool at your disposal to use at any time you need it, surgery related or otherwise (such as sitting in rush hour traffic when you are late for an appointment)


Find a Physician Near You

Search for a Doctor