Home Mental Health & Well-Being A Deeper Dive into Trauma-Releasing Exercises: Healing from Within

A Deeper Dive into Trauma-Releasing Exercises: Healing from Within

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Our bodies are remarkable machines, each day deftly processing a myriad of sensory input. Yet, they’re not just physical entities; they’re repositories of our experiences and, unfortunately, sometimes of our traumas. Trauma Releasing Exercises (TREs) aim to assist in processing and ultimately releasing these traumatic imprints that may dwell within our bodies.

Often, trauma can leave its fingerprint in our muscle tension, posture, and other bodily behaviours. When unresolved, it can also generate chronic stress, mental health issues, and even physical ailments. Enter TREs – an innovative approach grounded in neurology and the body’s natural recovery mechanisms.

TREs, developed by Dr David Berceli, are a series of simple exercises designed to evoke a self-controlled, neurogenic muscle tremor. This tremor is the body’s natural way of decompressing from chronic stress, tension, and trauma.

The exercises begin by activating the muscles of the lower body, such as the psoas, which are commonly impacted by stress and trauma. Gentle and accessible movements gradually work up from the feet and legs, through the pelvis, to the diaphragm, helping to release pent-up energy and physical tension.

Individuals may experience these tremors as gentle shaking or more vigorous vibrations. This may sound intimidating, but it is a natural, instinctual process – similar to how animals shake to relieve tension after a stressful event. Crucially, the individual retains control throughout, able to pause or cease the exercises at any point.

A key benefit of TREs is their applicability to various types of trauma. These exercises can assist individuals who have experienced significant traumatic events, such as natural disasters or combat. Still, they can also benefit those dealing with the “small t” traumas of daily life: stress at work, relationship problems, or the modern malaise of “burnout”.

Moreover, TREs don’t necessitate the individual to verbally recount or relive their trauma. This circumvents the common discomfort of discussing deeply personal experiences and can be especially beneficial for individuals who find talk therapy challenging.

Importantly, it is always advised to undertake TREs under the guidance of a qualified professional, at least initially. A skilled practitioner can ensure the exercises are performed safely and can provide essential emotional support if challenging feelings emerge during or after the process.

A common concern when exploring TREs is the fear of releasing too much trauma too soon, leading to retraumatisation. Qualified practitioners mitigate this by helping individuals establish and respect their own boundaries, ensuring the process unfolds at a manageable pace.

Research into the efficacy of TREs is ongoing, but preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence are promising. Participants often report reduced anxiety, greater emotional resilience, improved sleep, and increased overall wellbeing.

While TREs are not a ‘quick fix’ or a replacement for other therapeutic interventions, they can serve as a valuable adjunct to existing treatment plans. TREs offer a unique approach to healing, facilitating the body’s own mechanisms to process and release trauma.

Trauma-releasing exercises tap into our innate ability to recover and find equilibrium, providing a path to wellbeing that honours both our physical and emotional selves. In the face of trauma, big or small, TREs can serve as a gentle and accessible tool for self-healing.

The journey of healing is a deeply personal one, requiring courage, patience, and self-compassion. It is our hope that, by shedding light on therapeutic modalities such as TREs, we can empower individuals to explore new pathways towards healing, resilience, and wellbeing.


Benjamin Cavanaugh is a Chicago-born writer and mental health advocate, known for his in-depth exploration of the intersection between neuroscience and holistic health practices.

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