I Tried TRE – AKA Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises

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7 mins read
TRE trauma release

To be honest, blog writing can feel a bit weird. Writing out something that may or may not be helpful or enjoyable, and sending it out into the world anyway. For who knows whose eyes to see. I mean doing anything really creative feels this way. It’s weird. However, the moments that people get in touch because they actually connect with something, that part is nice. This is what brings me here today, writing about TRE, AKA Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about wet cupping, and yesterday I got a friendly email from an L.A. local requesting a referral to the practitioner I had seen. He said that the blog post was “entertaining and encouraging.” I’ll take it. I emailed him back, but as the location I had gone to for cupping still seems to be closed from COVID, I suggested another type of bodywork that has helped me release body pain. It’s called TRE.

How I Heard About TRE

I first heard about TRE in regards to managing physical pain that arises from chronic anxiety, which is particularly common in codependents. You know, like people who have experienced trauma and may have to unlearn some coping mechanisms that they may have learned wrong the first time, or whatever. (Swallowing your feelings for too long will effectively shove said feelings right into your muscles. Not a scientific explanation, but you can look it up.) Anyway, I heard about TRE and I immediately found a practitioner.

TRE is Actually a Pretty Straightforward Concept

TRE is essentially practicing a series of guided exercises to release tension from the psoas muscle, which then releases pain all throughout the body. The psoas muscle is the muscle that goes to work when we have a fight or flight response, and since it’s neatly tucked away in the core of our body, it communicates outwards to all the other muscles. It’s something like the captain of the fight or flight ship, okay? If the psoas is tight and uptight, so are you.

Part of the TRE experience is getting the psoas muscle tired enough that it will start to make your body shake. They call it tremoring. Surely you’ve felt a similar sensation when you’ve overdone leg day or something. This is actually a good thing when it’s done in a controlled environment with someone trained to manage the experience. As the body tremors, it releases trapped stress.

 

Sold. I preceded to try TRE.

I did four different TRE sessions over Zoom, and I’m telling you, this stuff worked. In my first session, one of the standing stretches we did on the psoas made me break out into a cold/firey sweat. I almost passed out. It was one of those wtf feelings but at the same time like, this feels great! Let’s do more. Burn it the F out of my bod, let’s go. That muscle was tight. I’m sure I let out a weird noise or at least made a facial expression to reflect that I wanted to.

After that unusually deep stretch, my body did a lot of tremoring during the tremoring portion of the session, and I loved it. I like to know that I’m really getting something done. The tremors proved this to me. A+ at TRE.

After that session, I immediately noticed relief from the body tightness I was experiencing (and am always trying to manage)…back tightness and TMJ flares. I went back for a few more sessions to really go to work on my bod, and each experience was totally different.

One time my body hardly tremored at all and I felt like crying because it didn’t go the way I thought I wanted. Control issues much? After the class was over I did cry, like a f-king baby, and then I felt great. The trick with these things is stay present for the entire experience…because turned out the cry after the class was actually the release I needed that day. The experience is not contained to just the time spent in the session. And yes, with each subsequent class and committing to ride that wave, my body kept feeling better and better.

The only reason I haven’t gone back to a TRE class is that my TMJ pain has stayed away. Yay. I still have to stretch my mouth muscles and without a doubt am clenching on my mouthguard while I sleep, but it’s manageable-ish. TRE works for me.

And…

It’s way more reasonably priced than any other type of bodywork I’ve ever done. My small group classes were $18 a session done over a Zoom. And even cheaper if you buy a package of three, which I did after my first successful class. $18?? So reasonable. Plus, after you do TRE a few times and learn how it goes, you can also begin to do it yourself! TRE took off the training wheels and sent me on my way. I will go back though, because I like the environment of someone leading it, and also I kind of forget some of the moves.

I have to add here that I am not a doctor and this is in no way meant to diagnose or treat anything, etc. I’m not telling you what to do. Or not to do. Just telling you a story about something that worked for me. Also this is not a sponsored post (obviously?) Also-also, the featured image I’ve used here is a stock photo of people meditating, not actually doing TRE, but a lot of TRE is spent laying on the floor, so close enough.

Okay, talk soon!

Kate

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