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The term reciprocal inhibition can have the two meanings, one in physiology and one in psychology. Physiological meaning of reciprocal inhibition is associated to the movement of the muscles. It actually marks contraction and relaxation of the two opponent muscles at the same time. Psychological meaning is related to behavioral therapy and it describes a technique that is used to replace the dysfunctional responses with others that are more functional. Here, we will discuss more thoroughly about both of these meanings of reciprocal inhibition.
Physiological meaning of reciprocal inhibition
When we want to move, our muscles or a group of muscles is contracting, while another group of muscles must relax at the same time and these muscles are called antagonists. There are also muscles that must give support in this action and they are called synergists. This is all happening at the same time while the movement is performed and it is called reciprocal inhibition. Sometimes it may happen that both groups of muscles contract simultaneously and it can cause troubles such as muscular injury, most frequently abrupt muscle tear. There is a method used for reducing cramps in the muscles and it is called reciprocal inhibition stretching. This technique is great for muscle flexibility, and professional sportsmen usually use it. It consists of putting the pressure on the opposing muscles while another muscle group should be relaxed. When doing this for a while, a person will realize what muscles are relaxed while others are stretched and after realizing this, a person will be able to do different stretches that have greater effect on the flexibility. It is usually performed with the assistance of another person who helps in stretching one muscle group and in relaxing it.A special massage called reciprocal inhibition massage is also very effective in reducing muscle cramps. Here a professional massages those muscles that should be relaxed and by doing this, the cramps will go away and muscles will become relaxed. This type of massage is very popular in the world of sport.
Psychological meaning of reciprocal inhibition
Sometimes a person reacts to some events unreasonably and with fear even when there is no objective reason for this type of a reaction. In these cases and many others, psychologists use reciprocal inhibition to change these kinds of responses. It is often used in the treatment of phobias and panic attacks, and fear as a response is, in these cases, replaced with some positive emotions and relaxation of the whole body.

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