Trauma release exercises (TRE) don’t require any expensive equipment or specialised knowledge. Dr. Berceli developed the first seven TRE stretches, all involving physical movement.

The last trauma release exercise uses only visualisation.

TRE Exercise 1: Ankle Stretching

  • Stand up with your feet spread to about shoulder length
  • Sway to one side by rolling onto the sides of your feet
  • Stand on the outside of one foot and the inside of the other foot
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and then sway to the other side
  • Continue slowly swaying back and forth five to eight times in each direction
  • Once done, shake out your feet

TRE Exercise 2: Calf Stretching

  • Place one foot in front of you and put all your weight onto that foot
  • Keep your back leg on the floor just for balance
  • Lift your front heel off the ground and go up and down on your toes
  • Repeat five to eight times
  • Once finished, shake the leg you just exercised
  • Repeat this same set of stretches with the other foot

TRE Exercise 3: Upper Leg Stretching

  • Stand up and place one leg in front of your other leg
  • Lower your hips slightly as if about to sit on a chair, bending your front knee
  • Do not let your knee bend beyond the length of the foot
  • Keep bending and straightening the knee on your front leg five to 10 times
  • Once finished, shake the exercised leg
  • Switch to the other leg and repeat the same set of stretches

TRE Exercise 4: Hip, Pelvis & Upper Leg Stretching

  • Stand with your legs spread about shoulder-width apart
  • Fold your body forward, bend your knees, let your head and neck hang down, and touch the floor with your hands
  • Keep your hands on the floor in the center of your feet
  • Take three deep breaths
  • Relax and breathe deeply to relax and release tension
  • Slowly walk your hands to one foot
  • Hold this position and hang onto your leg or the floor for three deep breaths
  • Switch to the other foot and repeat this stretch, holding onto your leg or the floor and breathing deeply three times
  • Move your hands back to the center and reach between your legs behind you
  • Hold this position for three deep breaths
  • Return to a standing position and place your hands for support as you stand

TRE Exercise 5: Stretching to Open the Front of Your Body

  • Stand up with your feet beyond hip-width apart
  • Place your hands behind you in the small of your back and look up or down
  • Bend your knees slightly, pushing your hips forward and bowing your back to stretch the muscles
  • Gently rotate your pelvis and hips to one side, maintaining this position as you take three deep breaths
  • Bring your feet back to the center
  • Widen your stance again and rotate in the opposite direction in the same position
  • Take three deep breaths.

TRE Exercise 6: Wall Sitting Stretch for Upper Legs

  • Sit with your back against the wall as though sitting on a chair
  • Try to maintain this seated position for three to five minutes
  • Push off the wall to a standing position
  • Bend your knees a little and allow yourself to hang forward
  • Touch the ground with your hands and try to hold the pose for about a minute

TRE Exercise 7: Wall Sitting Stretch for Upper Legs

  • Lay flat on your back
  • Bend your knees with the soles of your feet flat underneath you
  • Open your knees wide and put the soles of your feet together, with your heels tucked close to your body
  • Lift your hips off the ground for 30 seconds to one minute before bringing your hips back down to the ground and resting for a minute
  • Bring your knees closer together slowly, moving them about one or two inches closer in increments
  • Pause at each position for a minute or two
  • Stop by stretching your legs out straight and stretching your toes out if you become uncomfortable

TRE Exercise 8: TRE Spiral Visualization Technique

  • Close your eyes, visualize your body, and think of a traumatic memory
  • Tune into your body to locate associated tension, feelings, or other sensations
  • Create a mental image of a spiral turning in that area of your body
  • Pay attention to how fast or slow the spiral turns
  • Use your mind to pull the spiral inside out so it spins in the opposite direction, and visualize this process happening
  • Try to keep your breathing regular and deep as you go through this visualization exercise
  • Continue until the spinning becomes slower and less intense
  • Bring your focus back to your five senses and the things you can sense in your surroundings
  • Do a quick body scan to notice any changes in the amount of tension, pressure, or stress in your body (i.e., feeling lighter, steadier, etc.)