A Month of Trauma Release Exercises (TRE)

Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) Book CoverI first heard about Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) through a guest post on Tim Ferriss’s blog.  They sounded interesting & useful to me, so for the month of May I decided to try them.

The theory behind TRE is that the effects of mental stress and trauma are stored physically in our bodies as tension.  TRE claims to be a method for releasing that physical tension, and along with it the associated mental & psychological .  The physical tension is released through muscle tremors which are induced by a sequence of physical exercises that tire out the legs.

Each day, I’d complete the sequence of exercises which took about 20-30 minutes.  After completing the exercises, I’d lie on the floor for about 15 minutes (as the book prescribes), and when I held my legs in the right position (knees bent and raised, slightly apart) they’d shake involuntarily.  No part of my body above my waist ever shook; it was only the muscles that I’d exhausted during the exercises.

After 9 days of this, I decided that it wasn’t worth continuing.  I could detect no effects of the exercises outside of my shaking legs, and I could see no reason to believe that my shaking legs were anything more than simply tired muscles.  The idea that stress and trauma were being released was appealing, and I was certainly open to (and hoping for) positive mental or psychological effects.  But since I couldn’t detect any of those effects and was losing hope that I would by the end of the month, the TRE exercises started to seem like a not-all-that-fun waste of time.  So I took the advice of Tim Ferriss himself on “the art of nonfinishing”, and intentionally didn’t finish (something I’ve done before).


  1. says

    What I like about TRE is also what I dislike: they don’t require a facilitator. When a good, skilled trauma specialist is unavailable for whatever reason, it’s good to have access to tools for self-healing.

    On the other hand, it is the very presence of a powerful facilitator placing their conscious attention on you that makes a significant difference in healing.

    The peace and relief after TRE pales in comparison with the immense sense of unburdening that I have experienced with a powerful and skilled holistic reflexologist trained in the Avi Grinberg method, and with the strong vibration created by the liberated Chi during the aforementioned sessions of bodywork.

  2. Daanish says

    Hi Justin, thanks for this. I cant even get my legs to shake. Any advice for that? My legs are pretty weak so I get really tired in about 30 seconds or so. They might shake a little bit during that. But not afterwards. Apparently they’re supposed to shake right after getting up, when we bend down and touch our toes. Didnt happen then either so definitely not when lying down.

    I read a part of the manual today and it said when squatting we should find a stance that makes our legs shake but doesnt cause tiredness/pain. What? The whole reasons my legs quiver while in that stance is the stress upon them. I dont think there’s any point which would cause shakes but not tiredness/pain.

  3. Tamara says

    I’m still trying to make this TRE thing work. It also sounded appealing to me, to release tension this way. I’ve had a brain haemorrhage (subarachnoid) over 8 years ago and since then the left side of my body is tense as hell. I have a trainer to assist me in the exercises, which he adapted for my body. I started the first time end March 2017 and I mostly had more pain in my affected side, so my trainer decided to let me do the exercises with my good leg. My legs shake. But off course they do, because I’m working these muscles hard. No relief so far. He also keeps telling me to have no expectations. But why in hell would I do these exercises if I didn’t expect anything to happen. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried these exercises now and how long I will continue in the hope that someday my body will pick up what to do and release tension. I keep reading all these raving testimonials, which frustrates me even more. I know that I have a hell of a lot of tension to release, not to be compared with a little soft trauma.

  4. Denise zell says

    I think having a practitioner to guide you in the beginning is needed. I never had any problem with my whole body shaking while my husband finds it hard to shake much. Hè does shake but it’s restricted. I wonder if a person has very deep trauma is it harder to let go. There seems to be some willingness component necessary. I also think taking one’s mind out of it and just letting it happen is needed too. My bowen therapist told me my physical body seems to be unlocking more easily. Perhaps it’s the tre. All I know is it calms me as meditation does. So I do it with no expectation. But everyone is unique and it’s a case of finding what works for you.

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