TRE for Soldiers, Veterans, and Military Families

Whether in the field or on the home front, in the course of service to our country, both military personnel and their families willingly expose themselves to extraordinary stress. And then, upon completion of that service, they are rewarded with a return to – you guessed it – the ordinary stressors of civilian life, plus the embedded stress they carry with them.

It’s not news that constant stress is damaging to the human body. But transitioning from an always-on, adrenaline-fueled way of life to a calmer, more peaceful one can be baffling. Where do you even start?

With your body. You have experienced all of these challenges while you’ve been in it!  And it’s taken hits that are hard to understand and accept.

All of AlignUp’s techniques help the body recover from unrelenting stress and trauma-they are designed that way:

  • AlignUp’s core-breath work restores the muscles that shut down and weaken when we’re stressed out over a long period of time – or when we’ve experienced intense scenarios and trauma. This elevates our stress levels. The core-breath work also helps to restore the nervous system and deep muscles that go off-line.
  • Simple movements from Taiji provide physical grounding and the building of chi, providing a deeply relaxing and healing strength gained over time.
  • Dr. David Berceli (TRE: Tension Release Exercises) who developed TRE and harnessed our body’s innate ability to heal by a deep letting go of muscles, stress and our most painful stories. Here’s a little more about TRE:

Learning to let go with TRE

TRE, or Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, are a series of simple, mechanical movements that allow the body to safely and easily release stress and tension it has accumulated, no matter what the source. They calm the nervous system, make breathing easier, and help create a relaxed feeling.

These classes and workshops require no previous exercise training or equipment, and are for military only, so you can feel safe that you are with people who have shared and understand your own experience.

Here is more info for Veterans and how TRE can help them:

Most people will experience trauma at some point in their lives. Natural or human-caused disasters, such as terrorist attacks, earthquakes, war; motor vehicle accidents; violent personal assaults, like rape, physical and sexual abuse; and military combat can each cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the body’s normal reaction to any event it cannot process and discard immediately for whatever reason.

Traumatic Release Exercises (now commonly referred to as TRE) are super-simple exercises you learn quickly and can do on your own at any time. They gently lead the body to recovery via a series of small, neurogenic tremors. While these tremors are the body’s natural response, you can stop them at any time – you hold the “off” switch.

The Trauma Response

When it comes to trauma, there are two systems in the human body that deal with it:

  1. The neurological system (which encompasses our feelings, such as fear, anger, sadness, etc.); and…
  2. The physiological system (our musculature, pulmonary system, skeletal structure, etc.)

When trauma occurs, our bodies (the physiological systems) brace themselves as a way of coping and protecting us: our blood pressure rises, our pulses quicken, our muscles tense themselves for the next step, whatever that may be. These are completely natural, normal responses to outside threats, and our bodies’ way of ensuring our safety in the moment.

However, if the body can’t release this tension (via the physiological and/or neurological systems), these actions create adverse reactions – anxiety, aches and pains, and worse – that result in all kinds of problems for trauma survivors.

As the trauma recedes and the immediate danger passes, trauma survivors watch the world seem to (happily) move on around them, while they find themselves saddled with all kinds of baffling, frustrating, ongoing symptoms.

Among those symptoms are:

  • Flashbacks, bad dreams and frightening thoughts
  • Feeling emotionally numb and not connected to people
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Angry outbursts
  • Physical aches and pains that won’t go away or even get worse

In addition to the pain and discomfort these responses cause in and of themselves, unaddressed, they snowball, creating even more stress, pain, and ill health in the body.

Why Therapy Can’t Do It All

Many people with PTSD struggle with therapy and talking about their experience. Aside from the obvious pain involved – it’s emotionally difficult to talk about difficult things – therapy can also trigger a physical response, re-activating the body so that it re-experiences that identical, heightened tension that occurred during the original traumatic event.

Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) were specifically designed for people who could not, for a variety of reasons, use talk therapy to address their PTSD. So if you have had a traumatic experience and find that therapy has not worked for you, TRE can help you to move on and release holding patterns through these simple, gentle, non-triggering exercises.

Even if you are finding that talk therapy does work for you, TRE takes the edge off the emotions and physical stress so that discussing the traumatic event is no longer as overwhelming or re-traumatizing, and healing can occur faster.

The Usual Stressors – Civilians

Military personnel face trauma in the field, then are expected to act normally, putting aside these experiences as they return to civilian life (which has its own stressors!).

Meanwhile, their families at home carry the burden of worrying about loved ones’ well being, while they face the daily challenges of “normal life” managing finances, having to raise kids, be a kid, and hold down the fort. These experiences change who they are in the process. More stress.

(Stress is a big, scary, vague word, so it becomes a big intangible that’s hard to handle. Read here if you’d like to see stress and our reactions to it broken down.)

For military troops and veterans, it’s important to remember that your training has been intentionally adrenaline-fueled. In fact, the more you’ve relied upon adrenaline (you needed to in order to survive), the more your body seeks out that state and even more surprisingly, the more sensitive you are to it.

Over time, rolling with the punches can transition to riding solely on adrenaline. However, our bodies aren’t meant to be fueled by adrenaline over time–and the constant tension and release of cortisol can burn your body out.

You can relearn how to function without running mostly on adrenaline, first, by helping your body to let go of the built up tension that you have been involuntarily holding and second, by returning the physiological and emotional balance between the high stress and relaxed states in your body. This means that, over time, you will build the physiological tone to bounce back from stressful events in your life and let go of tension as it comes up.

Your approach to physical fitness has the potential to help you let go and heal, or to tense you up even more.

So what exactly are the Align Up & TRE exercises? I’m glad you asked.

Warm up the muscles that we clench when we’re facing hardship, giving our reptilian brain (the part of our brain we can’t control) the okay to go through our body and release stress.

Align Up exercises will help you let go of the stresses of the past, present, and future because life will not stop happening just because your loved one has been returned to you.


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