TRE® (Tension, Stress & Trauma Releasing Exercises)

Have a lot of workday stress, need to cool down after a workout, or simply need a way to relax? TRE can help with all three, and in not much time.

Think of TRE as giving yourself a deep and relaxing massage, but from the inside out. TRE initially targets the deeper core muscles – the hip flexors, psoas muscles and the pelvic floor or pelvic area. From there TRE can and often does spread like ripples to positively affect other areas in the body.

TRE consists of seven low-impact stretches and was developed to relieve stress and muscle tension, as well as the physical effects of trauma. It does this through self-induced and therapeutic muscle vibration or tremor. This tremor or vibration is a normal capability our bodies have always had to deal with stress. Yet this capability is commonly stifled or suppressed in our society.

Almost anyone can do TRE, from kids through the elderly. People with epilepsy, seizure disorders, and traumatic brain injuries have safely done and benefited from TRE. Leg amputees, people confined to wheelchairs, and those on crutches have also done and benefited from TRE. All the stretches can be modified to deal with physical limitations people may have.

There are three goals with TRE. The primary goal is to relieve physical and emotional stress and tension and promote muscle relaxation. The initial goal is to simply let your body do what it wants, versus your brain telling your body what to do. The third goal is body awareness; for you to know and be comfortable in your own body. TRE is a learned body experience, yet your mind can always exert control to stop the vibrations.

What Are the Benefits?
Our first reaction to stress and trauma is physical, and that reaction is often stored as chronic muscle tension, stiffness, and pain deep within the body. TRE is a proven way to help relieve muscle tension, stiffness, and pain, and also an indirect way to deal with trauma.

TRE has helped people with a host of physical problems: fibromyalgia, chronic pain and chronic fatigue, poor sleep, appetite, and digestion, back and shoulder pain, poor immune response, poor flexibility or chronic muscle tension, chronic headaches and migraines, high blood pressure, GI tract problems including Crohn’s and IBS, etc. TRE has also helped with anxiety, depression, and other mental or emotional problems.

Some people have reported feeling a renewed sense of hopefulness or optimism after just one session. Many people experience improved sleep, a profound and often instantaneous sense of muscle relaxation, better appetite, a quiet mind with improved ability to focus, and a sense of calmness.

The stretches are an excellent cool-down from an intense workout or stressful day. TRE can also be an effective preventative measure or a treatment option to reduce symptoms of professional burn-out or vicarious trauma.

TRE is cheaper and has a unique freedom compared to massage therapy, Tai Chi, Qi-Gong, yoga, somatic experiencing (SE), sensorimotor psychotherapy, etc. These all work well but they also require a trained therapist or instructor. You have to travel, you have to pay, and you have to work with someone else’s schedule. After 2-3 guided sessions, learning the sequence of stretches and becoming comfortable with your body sensations, you can do TRE for the rest of your life, any time you want, anywhere you want, as often as you want, and in as little as 20 minutes per session.

TRE doesn’t require any exercise equipment. All you need is a bare wall, door, or smooth surface to lean against and enough space to lie down without touching anything with your arms or legs. TRE can be done on its own, with any other therapy you’re doing, or as a useful part of your own exercise routine.

What Does TRE Feel Like?
Most people experience a rhythmic vibration as muscles repeatedly fire and release. Vibrations may move in waves through the body, remain in one area, or move from one area to another. Vibrations will vary. They may feel slow and deep, rapid and soft, or may feel fast or jerky, and they will change from session to session and also when you change your body position during a session.

Every person will experience TRE differently, and every session will be somewhat different as you learn to allow your body to do what it wants to do. With TRE your body may eventually vibrate wherever you have muscle or tissue tightness, literally from your head to your toes.

The Process
Your first TRE session will take about an hour and you’ll want to wear comfortable clothing that you can exercise in. Your provider will discuss some of the theory and benefits, demonstrate several ways of doing each stretch, and then guide you through each one.

The second and third guided sessions often take a half hour or less. You will increasingly talk your provider through the sequence as you become more proficient.

There are some cautions, limitations, and possible side effects with TRE. Your provider will  go over these as part of a brief and free initial assessment. To learn more about TRE and how it can benefit you check out TRE on our Good Links page.

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