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Shaking Therapy to Heal Stress and Trauma: How Does it Work and What are the Benefits of Shaking Therapy?

In the fast-paced world that we live in, stress has become a permanent resident in everyone’s lives. We all experience stress in our day-to-day lives. It can be stressful at the workplace, or even everyday events like battling through traffic, having to make a presentation on a strict deadline, or even giving a speech. In fact, some of this stress can even be due to very minor issues, while some could be due to underlying trauma of the past. It might surprise you to learn that one of the best ways to deal with stress could be to shake your body! Shaking is a natural way of releasing tension and returning the body to its normal state. Read on to find out more about shaking therapy to heal stress and trauma – and if you can really shake the stress off.

Can Shaking Therapy Help Heal Stress and Trauma?

Can Shaking Therapy Help Heal Stress and Trauma?

Stress has become part and parcel of our lives today. Stress is the natural reaction to anything that our body perceives to be a threat. However, living under chronic or intense stress can have a lot of negative impacts on your body. This means that the body is constantly under the fight or flight response, which is an automatic psychological reaction of the body to anything that is perceived as being stressful or frightening.(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Some of the symptoms of chronic or intense stress include:

Due to so many adverse effects on the body, stress management is critical to ensuring your overall well-being. This is where shaking therapy comes in. Shaking therapy can be one such stress management technique that can help many people cope with their stress.

Shaking therapy is also known as neurogenic or therapeutic tremoring, a term coined by David Berceli. The approach of shaking therapy involves shaking the body to release trauma and tension, thus helping to regulate the nervous system.(9)

In addition to Berceli’s observations, Dr. Peter Levine also developed the approach of somatic experiencing as a form of body-based therapy to help process and release trauma. Levin wrote a book, “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma,” in which he noted that animals could frequently be observed shaking their bodies in an attempt to release stress and tension. The most common example of this can be found in a dog.(10, 11, 12)

It is believed that the shaking or vibrating action helps release muscular tension, burn off any excess adrenaline, and also calm down the nervous system to bring it back to its neutral state. This helps manage the stress levels in the body. Shaking can be thought of as a process of warming up the muscles. It helps loosen up and shake out all the built-up tension in the body and mind. Shaking is the act of letting go of all the stress and tension in the body and mind. It can be seen as shaking off the old energy and tension and resettling the body. In fact, shaking is not a new concept. All humans tend to shake when their fight or flight responses get activated, which is when we face a threat to our system or we are in trauma. Shaking is the easiest way to get rid of tension.

How Does Shaking Therapy Work?

The autonomic nervous system comes into play here. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating the various bodily processes, including:(13)

The autonomic nervous system does this with two functions that are opposite to each other, known as upregulation and downregulation. Upregulation increases the energy availability in the body, while downregulation reduces the energy available.

When the body is under stress, the autonomic nervous system also comes under stress, and it impacts bodily functions. For example, when the body perceives that something is a threat or it is stressful, the autonomic nervous system releases cortisol and adrenaline as part of the fight-flight-freeze response of the body.(14, 15) The release of these hormones boosts your heart rate and provides the body with a sudden burst of energy and strength that enables it to respond to the perceived threat. Sometimes, the body can also overreact to stressors, which can ultimately take a toll on your health as well. It is at this time that deregulation comes into play. Deregulation is required to bring the energy levels down, reducing the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. This allows the nervous system to return back to a neutral position and also resets bodily functions.

Shaking the body can help provide relief to an already overstimulated nervous system, thus calming the body back down.

What are the Benefits of Shaking Therapy?

Shaking therapy has many benefits, including managing both short and long-term emotional states. Regulating stress is the biggest benefit of shaking therapy. Controlling of stress can help prevent it from building up over time and transforming into symptoms of anxiety, depression, or trauma in the long run. Your day-to-day stress is the basic baseline starting point from which a lot of mental and emotional dysregulation stems from. Shaking works as a release for the body and the nervous system. One can think that they are literally shaking off the stress, trauma, and anything negative that the body would not want to hold on to.

Regulating stress through shaking therapy can help in the following ways:

How to Practice Shaking Therapy?

You can perform shaking therapy either while sitting or standing. You have to focus on certain parts of the body and just shake it out. You can even get all goofy and make crazy movements. There are no hard and fast rules about how you have to shake. You can just pause suddenly while shaking to focus on your breathing. You can sigh or take deep breaths. You can let one of your arms wobble around. It’s totally up to you.

While doing these movements, you just need to be aware and curious about your body. Some of the questions to ask yourself while shaking may include:

  • How did my body and emotions feel before I started shaking?
  • How does my body and emotions feel after shaking?
  • What does it feel like to be inside my body?

If you are doing one side at a time, you can switch sides after completing movements on each part of the body on that side. For example, repeat on each leg, each hand,

the hips, and then the body as a whole. Shake your body around and move any part that you feel like.

If you are a beginner at shaking therapy, it is best to start small. For example, begin your day by shaking just for 30 seconds, especially if you have never done shaking before. Even minimal shaking for 10 to 30 seconds can help boost the nervous system and impact your hormone production.

Once you start to feel comfortable with shaking for 30 seconds, you can build up to one or two minutes every morning and night. You can also practice shaking whenever you feel acute stress or even when you just feel like it.


While shaking therapy sounds like a promising treatment for reducing stress, and it has even been found to be effective for many people, it is important to keep in mind that there is very limited scientific evidence around the approach and its benefits. And, as with any physical movement or exercise, remember to keep in mind your body’s limitations and abilities. For example, if you have an injured knee or hip, be careful while carrying out the shakes. You can even choose to shake while being seated to avoid getting hurt and reduce the load on a certain body part.

Shaking can help regulate the nervous system and calm down the body when it becomes overstimulated. It is an excellent way to release tension, stress, and trauma. And even though the evidence is still limited, shaking therapy may be beneficial for many people in managing and relieving stress.


  1. Baum, A., Gatchel, R.J. and Schaeffer, M.A., 1983. Emotional, behavioral, and physiological effects of chronic stress at Three Mile Island. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 51(4), p.565.
  2. Lupien, S.J., Juster, R.P., Raymond, C. and Marin, M.F., 2018. The effects of chronic stress on the human brain: From neurotoxicity, to vulnerability, to opportunity. Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, 49, pp.91-105.
  3. Checkley, S., 1996. The neuroendocrinology of depression and chronic stress. British medical bulletin, 52(3), pp.597-617.
  4. Razzoli, M. and Bartolomucci, A., 2016. The dichotomous effect of chronic stress on obesity. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 27(7), pp.504-515.
  5. Dhabhar, F.S., 2009. A hassle a day may keep the pathogens away: the fight-or-flight stress response and the augmentation of immune function. Integrative and comparative biology, 49(3), pp.215-236.
  6. Dhabhar, F.S., 2000. Acute stress enhances while chronic stress suppresses skin immunity: the role of stress hormones and leukocyte trafficking. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 917(1), pp.876-893.
  7. Yang, L., Zhao, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, L., Zhang, X., Li, B. and Cui, R., 2015. The effects of psychological stress on depression. Current neuropharmacology, 13(4), pp.494-504.
  8. Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T.P. and Sahebkar, A., 2017. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal, 16, p.1057.
  9. Herold, A., 2015. Neurogenic tremor through TRE Tension, Stress and Trauma Releasing Exercises according to D. Berceli in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. Психологічне консультування і психотерапія, (2,№ 1-2), pp.76-84.
  10. Levine, P.A., Blakeslee, A. and Sylvae, J., 2018. Reintegrating fragmentation of the primitive self: Discussion of “somatic experiencing”. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 28(5), pp.620-628.
  11. Levine, P., 2012. Somatic experiencing.
  12. Payne, P., Levine, P.A. and Crane-Godreau, M.A., 2015. Somatic experiencing: using interoception and proprioception as core elements of trauma therapy. Frontiers in psychology, p.93.
  13. Waxenbaum, J.A., Reddy, V. and Varacallo, M., 2019. Anatomy, autonomic nervous system.
  14. Milosevic, I., 2015. Fight-or-flight response. Phobias: The Psychology of Irrational Fear: The Psychology of Irrational Fear, 196, p.179.
  15. FLIGHT, F.O., The Fight-or-Flight Response: Survival of the Most Stressed?.
  16. Won, E. and Kim, Y.K., 2016. Stress, the autonomic nervous system, and the immune-kynurenine pathway in the etiology of depression. Current neuropharmacology, 14(7), pp.665-673.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2022

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