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Trauma and Tension Releasing Exercises (TRE) engage the muscles to produce tremors. These vibrations are believed to release tension in the body that has accumulated from nerve-wracking experiences, aiding the healing process. This article will provide background on TRE and why they are a valuable therapeutic practice.

Trauma and Somatic Complaints

Traumatic events — like witnessing a violent death or being abused — can leave a mark on a person’s physical and mental health. Stress and anxiety can build up in the body, causing muscle tension and dysregulation of multiple bodily systems. In other words, emotional pain can show up as physical symptoms, such as headaches, neck and back pain, and difficulties falling or staying asleep.

Traumatic stress is associated with disorders affecting the following organ systems:

  • Gastrointestinal
  • Cardiovascular
  • Neurological
  • Musculoskeletal 
  • Respiratory
  • Dermatological
  • Urological

It’s crucial to find methods that can release emotional trauma so that you can begin to move forward. 

What Are TRE?

Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises are comprised of seven simple exercises developed by trauma therapist Dr. David Berceli for use by civilians and soldiers in high conflict zones and regions experiencing major disasters like a tsunami or bombing from war. TRE are designed to remove tension that has concentrated in muscles.

This mind-body therapy is a self-help method that can be practiced at home once taught how to perform the exercises safely and effectively in a professionally guided group session. The activities were created so that individuals of all body types and physical levels could easily perform them and reap their benefits.

How Does TRE Work?

TRE operates under the principle that a person’s emotions and physical body are connected. In order for emotional disturbances to subside, areas of the body that are holding onto those emotions need to be stimulated to release them.

TRE taps into the body’s tremor mechanism by exhausting the thigh flexor muscles. When done correctly, the legs and body will shake involuntarily. Six exercises are performed; most are standing and one exercise is performed laying down. Tremors are induced in the final position and are encouraged to move through the body.

Uncontrollable shaking associated with disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic attacks may be seen as symptoms that one would rather avoid. Through Dr. Bercelli’s field and research experience, he discovered that this natural physical response to trauma could actually be therapeutic when done in a safe and controlled way. 

What Are the Benefits?

There is limited scientific evidence demonstrating how TRE works. It is hypothesized that the vibrations release tightness deep within the muscles, helping regulate the nervous system and produce a state of relaxation ad groundedness. Whatever its mechanism, many people have found the exercises reduce negative symptoms and improve their well-being.

A significant benefit is the experience of an emotional release that is manageable rather than overwhelming, like with some other therapies. Trauma survivors can be easily triggered. Others report relief from inflammatory conditions like arthritis. 

According to Dr. Bercelli, a number of benefits have been reported by clients, including: 

  • Greater flexibility
  • Less muscular pain
  • Improved sleep patterns 
  • A reduction in stress at work
  • Enhanced emotional resiliency
  • Reduction in PTSD symptoms
  • Healthier relationship dynamics 
  • Reduction in worry and anxiety
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Relief from chronic medical conditions

Find Relief From Stress Without All the Talking

Verbal communication is a common barrier to processing and healing from difficult life experiences.

Individual and group therapy sessions can be overwhelming for individuals who are not ready to talk about what happened to them. Reliving memories of the past can retraumatize them and cause them to shut down. Others just haven’t found the words yet to effectively communicate how they feel.

One of the great things about TRE is that they don’t require you to say a word. All you have to do is move your body with intention and let your body do the rest. 

Are TRE For You?

Those who struggle with anxiety disorders, PTSD, and even addiction may find that the exercises bring them significant relief. It can also be helpful for those who have pain and inflammation from medical conditions. However, it is essential to first consult with your clinician to discuss potential side effects, given your medical history.  

Get Help For Trauma & Stress

It’s a normal human response to try to escape from pain and suffering. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to find some relief. However, substances can make symptoms of anxiety and trauma disorders even worse. 

Whether you struggle with traumatic events that happened long ago or experience ongoing anxiety from common troubles, it is vital to find ways to manage these negative emotions, so they don’t consume you. TRE are one of many strategies that can treat both the mind and body.

TRE were designed to release tension trapped deep within the muscles. Traumatic experiences and severe stress can lead to physical symptoms that lower quality of life and make it tough to function normally. Untreated symptoms can lead to worsened physical and mental health outcomes and possibly addiction. West Coast Recovery Centers is a nationally accredited drug, alcohol, and behavioral health rehabilitation center in Southern California. We understand the process of recovering from the past can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. We know how difficult it is to stay sober so you can start healing with a clear mind. You’re not alone. Our goal is to support you every step of the way as you navigate your personal rehabilitation journey. Our clinical team will guide you through treatment specialized to your unique circumstances. Call (760) 492-6509 for more information on our TRE program. 

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