Sports Injuries Resolved with TRE

As part of my MSW (masters in social work) program at Arizona State University, I enrolled in a two-week winter class held at the Virginia Piper Cancer Treatment Center in Scottsdale, AZ. The class consisted of approximately 25 women and 2 men (this is typical for classes in the MSW program). by Travis Webb:  ASU Student

My understanding of those who are “traumatized” prior to taking the course included victims of serious car accident injuries, stab wounds, sexual abuse, persons having lost family members, etc. Never having experienced “trauma” by my definition,

I did not anticipate to gain much personally from this class. Through the experience I have come to realize that trauma can manifest in the form of *past physical injuries* such as breaks, torn ligaments, sprains, and joint dislocations.

The first day of class was an all-day-Saturday session. After some introductions, Dr. Berceli led us through our initial attempt at the exercises while explaining the reason our bodies feel the way they do.

I was surprised at the concept of allowing (even encouraging) our bodies to tremor as a method to release stored trauma. As I lay on the floor for the final exercise, I did begin to tremor. However, I was not convinced that the tremors indicated anything more than muscle fatigue, especially since the shaking was isolated to the exact muscle group we had just stretched and flexed.

The trembling was in my thighs and pelvis, but never above my waist. I noticed a few of my classmates laughing uncontrollably, and a few others trying to hide that they were crying. Dr. Berceli encouraged both laughing and crying as he checked on each of the individuals. I did not feel any emotional change throughout the exercises. This only confirmed to me that because I had never experienced “trauma” by my definition, TRE would not have much impact on me.

As we returned to our seats, I noticed I felt incredibly relaxed… almost vegetated. We watched videos of Dr. Berceli teaching TRE in several countries including China, Brazil and Nigeria. Some of the participants in the videos were squirming and trembling from head to foot. I was open to the idea that these individuals lived in hard places where trauma, catastrophes, and stress were abundant, thus explaining their dramatic results. I figured I would be able to teach these techniques to my clients who had “real trauma” in their lives like those in the videos assuming there was some legitimacy to what TRE claimed to do. Four more attempts over the next week (both in class and at home) led to four more similar experiences. The tremors stayed below my waist and I felt relaxed at the end of the exercises.

The fifth time I did the exercises  I rolled my legs to the left side a bit to adjust my belt which was twisted under me. To my surprise (what felt like) a slight pulse of electricity buzzed up my back. I started to laugh some. I leaned a little more to my left and the pulses increased. I played with the position of my legs to try and increase the flow. As I leaned left, they went up. As I leaned right, they stopped.

Before long my left shoulder, arm, and hand were swirling and tremoring completely involuntarily. Dr. Berceli asked me to stay on the floor to allow others to observe my body’s movements. The class gathered round to see the self-acclaimed “guy with no real trauma” start to release some stored up pain from past injuries. Dr. Berceli told the class that although the movement was restricted to my left shoulder at that moment, it would move to my right side soon enough. On cue, I began to feel the tremors move into my neck, sternum, ribcage, and upper spine.

Suddenly, and with tremendous force, my right shoulder pulled upward, lifting my right side off the ground entirely! Then, any muscle above my waist would contract tightly, hold for 3-5 seconds and then relax.

The contracting was repetitively followed by a wiggle up my spine, then another strong contraction and lifting of my right shoulder. This sequence continued for approximately 30 minutes (though it felt like 5 minutes). Dr. Berceli asked what I had done to my right shoulder. I quickly responded with “nothing of signific… Wait a second!” Though the memory never entered my mind up to this point, I had severely dislocated my right shoulder playing high school football as a sophomore. I ran bleachers the rest of the season in a sling.

This was the point in my experience with TRE where I was positively convinced that there was legitimacy to the tremoring and what Dr. Berceli taught us about our bodies “knowing how to release trauma if we will just let them do their thing.”

I have been restricted in my ability to bring my right arm over my head comfortably since dislocating it 16 years ago. Despite 6 months of physical rehabilitation, some scar tissue and nagging pain remains. It is painful to lift weights, throw a baseball (unless sidearm), even shoot a basketball. I have become to the injury and the limited motion over the years. I made a list of past injuries to see if there were more I had forgotten about. The list includes: a broken right ankle (wrestling coach in high school used me as his practice dummy), torn hip flexor in right hip, bone inflammation under right knee, aforementioned dislocated right shoulder, fractured ring finger on right hand (now has a screw holding it together), green-bow fracture in right hand, two elbows above right eye at basketball (first time chipped a small piece of bone off the ridge of my eye socket with a large gash, second time just a gash), fake teeth on right side of my mouth (also an elbow at basketball.. maybe I should be wearing a helmet!), broken left arm at age 4, car accident last year resulting in lower back pain. I have worked in construction/demolition since high school. With the exception of only one of the injuries on the list, they all occurred on the right side of my body. I speculate that rolling on to my left side while doing the exercises unblocked the flow of the tremors, allowing them to travel into my upper body. Great accidental discovery! Regardless, I’ve come to realize I haven’t taken care of my body over the years.

So how did I feel after the TRE that night? … At first, it felt as though I had been in the jacuzzi or on the massage table all day! I was totally relaxed. I felt like my limbs were expanding into space. However, as I drove home, I felt pure energy pouring into me. It was not a feeling of jittery or jumpy energy, but rather (maybe sounds bizarre..) blood flow, restoration, and a quickened mind.

I was in a great mood. Class had released at about 8:45pm…by the time I got home at 9:15pm, I was completely charged. I went and ran with some guys playing late night basketball across the street. The energy, blood flow, and quickening continued until we finished around 11:00pm. I wasn’t ready for sleep, so I went to Walmart for some errands! For the next 3 days I felt like I was 18 again, which vastly improved my mood and desire to be active.

I continue to practice TRE regularly. As a future licensed therapist of psychology, I will teach my clients the exercises in hopes of helping them release stored trauma, stress, or pain as our minds and bodies are inseparably connected. Great thanks to Dr. Berceli for his efforts!

Travis Webb