Relieve Symptoms of PTSD: Allow Your Body To Shake
I have had enormous success by allowing my body to shake to help relieve my symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The process sounds a little strange when you first hear about it, but can be an enormously powerful tool in the PTSD healing process. You can allow the body to shake to relieve the symptoms of PTSD.
The PTSD Releases When I Let My Body Shake
I have been able to release the tensions and feelings that were stored in my body from the abuse by allowing my body to shake. I was too shut down to experience any feelings during the traumatic events, but as those stuck feelings release, I feel lighter and more balanced. I can do things that the abuse prevented me from doing before.
How Did I Discover the Shaking Concept?
When I first started dealing with the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in my life, it was the late 1980s, and much less was known about it. At that time, PTSD was something that happened to combat veterans. I had to figure out through trial and error how to overcome the effects of abuse that had led to my PTSD. I was working with a therapist who told me several times that the effects of trauma were stored in the body at the cellular level and needed to be released. I didn’t quite understand, but began to explore that direction.
I attended a group that helped people process feelings from traumatic events in their lives. To resolve anger, they suggested shouting, or hitting a bed with a newspaper. For grief, a person would cry. To deal with fear, they mentioned that sometimes a person’s body would shake. I began to experience that sensation.
The PTSD Symptoms of Trauma Releases When the Body Shakes
When my body shakes, and the fear is diminished. At the time, I was uncovering memories of violence with my dad which had been buried for over 20 years. I experienced my legs shaking, and began to realize that I was trying to release the trauma from the violence I had endured. At times my arms would shake, and sometimes my legs would shake. Mostly it happened late at night – I discovered that’s when the abuse took place.
Each time the shaking occurred, I felt less fearful, and would experience a sense of calm and peacefulness. When I released old feelings, it would lead to new insights. I had more emotional freedom, and had more control over my fear. The strange part was that I didn’t realize how much my life was dominated by fear until I began to get free of it.
My perspective also shifted, and I was able to see my dad in a more loving and forgiving light. He had experienced similar violence in his childhood, and had just passed it on. That awareness didn’t excuse his abusive actions – but it did help me understand him better.
Tension and PTSD Trauma Release Exercises
Only last year I got confirmation for what I had been doing when I found out that Dr. David Berceli had formalized the process, calling it TRE for Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (When Talk Therapy Fails to heal PTSD). When I realized it was a powerful healing tool that could help many people, I was relieved, because it wasn't just a random and odd sensation only I experienced.
Then I watched a television special on PTSD in the military. It showed a soldier in World War I sitting in a ditch, just having left combat. His body was shaking violently. I completely understood how he felt, and at that moment I realized that shaking to release fear is not a new concept – our bodies will naturally try to resolve trauma if we let them.
I continue to let my body shake as needed, and consider it one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever found to deal with the effects of abuse in my life.
My Experience With Shaking To Release the PTSD Symptoms of Trauma
Photo by Anita @ Flickr. Creative Commons.
Dan is a PTSD survivor, and author of Healing The Writer: A Personal Account of Overcoming PTSD and Freedom’s Just Another Word. You can connect with Dan on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and at his website DanLHays.com.
Hays, D. (2015, September 21). Relieve Symptoms of PTSD: Allow Your Body To Shake, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/09/allowing-the-body-to-shake-to-release-trauma
Author: Dan Hays
I remember when my father passed away and I was in a different country I had tremors all through my body and I wondered why it was happening. Now I know that my body was dealing with the fear and sadness of losing my father. It was releasing excess fear that my body could handle.
Thanks for writing today. Yes, I have experienced exercise as freeing up the shaking process as well. I know the tremors are very disconcerting when we first encounter them, and I hope you understand them better now. Exactly - it's our bodies very naturally releasing excess and stored up fear.
You know, I haven't heard much talk about resting - but you're completely right. This sort of work takes a lot out of me, so rest is imperative.
I am 19. When I was of the ages of about 8 to maybe 12 (I can’t quite remember when i managed to put a stop to it) I was in a sexual situation with a person a couple of years older than me. I didn’t realize until many years later that the situation involved coercion and mental abuse & that I could not tell anyone without causing a huge problem and feeling intense shame. It disgusts me to think about it.
Thinking about it bothered me a lot for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t know just how badly the experiences affected me. To this day, I have never had sexual attraction towards someone (and rarely ever romantic attraction) and I am not sure if that is just because I am asexual or if I have developed an unconscious aversion to sexual intimacy.
Last year, I tried hooking up with a friend that I trusted. I felt nothing during these times. We made out several times on different occasions, and each time I would shake uncontrollably to the point where we would have to stop. It would start with parts of my body twitching, especially my legs and back. It would escalate until they were full-body tremors, starting in my legs and moving up my chest, & on especially bad occasions, to my arms. My friend would try to calm me down, and once the shaking stopped I would twitch for a while.
I’ve been dealing with what I am almost certain is depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and potential ADD. I have struggled with self harm.
My legs are shaking again from me even writing this. I know it is a lot to unpack but I appreciate anyone even reading this.
I'm glad you have found this article useful. It sounds like your body tremors are a lot like what I have experienced. Yes, it can make me shake just to write or talk about these issues. The more you do it, the more it lets those old fears release!
Do you shake with any particular method in mind (such as the TRE method), or you just let your body shake as it wants to?
It's a weird experience, isn't it? Interesting that your shaking happens also in your chest. Mine is mostly in my arms and legs. But - it sounds like the same phenomenon - our bodies are naturally trying to release trauma! So I think you might want to just let it continue to release. It's hard when it happens around people, because they just don't understand, and it's tough for them to watch!
For support, consider this forum: https://healthunlocked.com/healmyptsd. It's a growing group of people with PTSD, who are sharing their experiences, and where people "get it" when we talk about what's going on.
Thanks for the info on PTSD and trembling. I have the exact reaction at the movies ( right leg) and when I'm in public places (like standing in line or waiting. Also at night in bed resting or trying to go to sleep. My wife says my legs shake even when I sleep. My trauma is a result of serious transplant issues and health related. So good to know this reaction is positive and not a mental downfall. Thank you so much.
Thank you for your blog
Thanks for your comments. One of my recovery buddies has been working with a somatic practitioner, and as he describes the work, it leads to the same results I've gotten from the shaking. It does sound like when you're crying your body is also releasing effects when you shake. I hear you about old trauma - mine was when I was 8 years old, and started breaking loose when I was in my '50s.
For support, consider this forum: https://healthunlocked.com/healmyptsd
It's a growing and very supportive group of people with PTSD, and has been a Godsend in my world. It's amazing to be in a place where people just "get it" when I talk about my experience.
I also wonder if someone shakes his body but maybe doesn't shake enough the trauma is processed anyway at a neuronal level or not.
Psychiatrists seem to not know these things.
After a few more weeks I went to a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) for a 30 minute osteopathic treatment and he told me I was holding onto trauma and needed to do deep breathing and try to release it. After several more sessions I did try meditating and after a 30 minute meditation/visualization session my body started to spontaneously shake and this went on for 30 minutes, I was fully conscious and could have stopped at any time but it felt "right". The next day I tried it again but didn't even need the meditation, I just relaxed and it came on for 45 minutes. The next day I had 3 shaking sessions lasting 30 to 40 minutes each! And then one more the following day. After that I seemed to be finished, I went to the osteopath (D.O.) again a few days ago and shook during the session. He thinks that in addition to the current trauma my body has experienced, I have old trauma in my body that I am releasing too. It has been such a powerful experience, I just needed to share it.
Thanks so much for sharing your powerful experience. It sounds like your body intuitively sought out the right way to release the trauma. Good for you to just go along and let it happen. The experience really rattles a lot of people, and they fight it. So when you allowed it to continue, it made the process go more quickly.
I think your osteopath is right on target - it sounds like your body is releasing old traumas in addition to the current trauma. From what I've experienced, I don't need to know exactly what I'm releasing, but just allow it to happen, and after a while, it eases up. You're treating yourself right, and I suspect you'll be amazed at how it changes things.
What I've learned is to watch for new awarenesses. I call those old feelings that were stuck in my body the "static" that kept me from hearing my truth. As I release them, I become more clear and aware about what happened to me, and how it affected me.
You're on a powerful road, Renee! May the benefits be many for you! :)
I'm so sorry to hear about the tension you feel in your neck and muscles. I am not a medical expert, so I don't know if that will eventually resolve by itself. If it were me, I'd check with a medical person for possible solutions.
I have done incredible work on self for 2 years.
Thank you for your information
I too have recently experienced shaking as I was working on unblocking my toxic feelings. It happened when I was becoming 'vulnerable' to my nasty thoughts, which I usually suppress and they turn into self criticisms or codependent interactions. As I was becoming more vulnerable than I have ever done, my limbs began to shake to the nasty feelings that I now was feeling. Those feelings were ones of being manipulated by my abusers. In addition to the shaking, I began to dry heave. Whenever those nasty feelings surfaced, I let my body shake and do it's thing, and I began to feel great afterwards. I believe this is the grieving I have not done in the past, and the blocked feelings turned into all kinds of nasty behavior. I'm glad that you put this video up because I was looking frantically on the net to see if someone else had experienced shaking to relieve their ptsd symptoms. Thank you for confirming my thoughts about this. I will continue to work on myself, and let go of all those nasty feelings.
Well said about your experience. If I try to repress those old grief feelings, they can release in very toxic ways. The shaking releases the feelings I never experienced when the trauma happened, and yes, when I release them, I feel great afterward too!
I'm glad my video helped you feel validated for your shaking experience.
Check out this site for more information: http://traumaprevention.com
Let me know how it continues to go for you as you release those old toxins!
Interesting though, that my psychiatrist once compared my tremors to "chattering teeth"! As when immersed in very cold water. That being a different physiological reaction, to uncontrollable body stressors.
Fortunately my AMAZING service dog senses my tremor onsets, even minor ones. Then he'll tug at my wrist with his teeth, or try to "arm-wrestle" me, with his front paws. Often that distraction (and requisite muscle movement) is all that's needed to quell my 'shakes'.
All the best to you...
Barry ( Cape Town, South Africa)
Thanks for stopping by to comment, and I'm glad you found the article helpful. I can completely relate how the tremors can be embarrassing and awkward. I honor you with the deepest respect for your service.
Interestingly, I talked with one Vietnam vet who said his combat buddies told him they thought he had PTSD before he ever went to Vietnam - he thought it was from his childhood abuse. I'm sure your pre-teen abuse must have added tremendously complex layers to your struggle in dealing with PTSD.
I completely get the chattering teeth visual - that's what it feels like for me at times. Other times it's just the uncontrollable tremors.
That is incredible that your service dog can sense your tremor onsets - isn't it amazing how intuitive animals can be? I'm glad you have him to support you.
I also like rocking....it soothes me.
You're very welcome. Interesting trick by the therapist - rubbing your hands to stop them shaking. Rocking is great also! I don't know what I would do if the leg shaking started happening in public. :)