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.

  5. Barbara Wilson says

    I have been practicing TRE for a month and am transformed. I do not say that lightly. I, however, found it easy to tremor from the very start. With no standing exercises at all, I can just lie down-feet together and knees out-and, with a slight raise of my knees, go into a nice ‘rubber legs’ shake that becomes deep, gentle rocking of my hips. The rocking is sometimes side to side and sometimes an up and down my spine motion that rolls into a ‘head nodding’.
    I went into the exercises very open to the premise, and never had an instructor. (There is no one near me) I have to say that finding that ‘sweet spot’ that is encouraging but not manipulating the tremor requires really being in touch with your body.
    I spend several minutes laying on the floor after with waves of calm washing over me and am euphoric after. The rest of my day, I’m energized, lighthearted, and carefree with an internal ‘hum’ that I can focus on and melt stress.
    I am so inspired by this that I am off to begin to become certified next weekend so that I can gift this to others.

  6. Sam says

    Hey.. I just wanted to comment to the original post that I think you’re missing the point a little when you said “I can’t see any reason to believe that the shaking is anything other than tired muscles”… yes hats correct.. that is exactly what it is supposed to be too.. the idea is that the tired muscles make you shake and this mimics the movements the body (should do) naturally when it experiences trauma.. thus having the same benefits..

    It’s the same as EMDR, the way it works is that you purposefully move your eyeballs side to side because this mimics the movement your eyes do in REM sleep when working through trauma in your dreams. It’s the same kind of principle that you are forcing your body to do something it should do naturally..

    So many people have had amazing results with TRE, but most say it is something you need to do for at least 2-4 weeks to notice the benefits.


  7. Josh Price says

    I have been doing TRE for about 2 weeks and last night was the first time it radiated into more than just my hips and legs. I felt it first in my right shoulder girdle then my right arm was jumping a bit and my right thumb and pointer finger were flexing. I was a police officer until last year I was involved in two shootings. After last night I could feel my body “remember” the squeezing of the trigger and the punch out of my right arm. So crazy! Afterwards I felt so relieved like the stress and tension had released in those areas. TRE really works! Just have to allow your body to do what it wants. If you fight it or don’t let go it won’t work.

  8. Ashley says

    I’ve been doing TRE on my own for a year and a half, and it’s been completely life changing. It did, however, take about 6-8 weeks of doing the exercises daily (my body literally demanded I do it daily when I first started, I don’t recommend it lol) for me to start seeing significant results. My sciatica is gone, my fibromyalgia pain is dramatically reduced, my pelvic floor dysfunction and diastasis recti (sorry guys) are finally healing after 10 years of no improvements no matter what I tried. Other forms of exercise never gave me these results prior to starting TRE. TRE unlocked my muscles so that I could start seeing benefits from other types of exercise.

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