Try this; with your feet hip width apart, try and stand perfectly still.
‘Perfectly still’ is the kicker – it’s not possible.
Let’s increase the stress on your body by making your brain work harder; bring your feet together. Notice the natural oscillations in your body amplify. We are constantly contracting and over-correcting as we attempt to stand upright.
If you are still not sure you are already shaking all the time; stand on one foot (only if your balance is good). Really feel how you are endlessly dancing with gravity.
Muscle activity is mediated by ‘central pattern generators’ – groups of neurons in the spinal cord that cause rhythmic motor activity. Walking is controlled shaking, as is all muscle contraction in our gestures and movement patterns, (Dietz 2003).
More recently evolved neural networks, higher up in the central nervous system, inhibit and smooth out the natural shakes. Unless we are stressed, tired, drunk, overloaded with medications, or, unlucky (upto 6% of people experience benign ‘essential tremors’) our natural shakes are too fine too notice, (Wyne 2005).
TRE® (Trauma Releasing Exercises) is a clever sequence of exercises that tires out and stretches some of the big pelvic muscles. With the induced tiredness, and curious, open awareness, the higher central nervous system inhibition is reduced and your body can start to safely tremor.
The central pattern generators in the spinal cord can go into a positive feedback loop, creating and sustaining involuntary ‘neurogenic’ or ‘self-induced therapeutic’ tremors. The tremors send lots of good news to the central nervous system, helping wake up the connection between brain and body and helping to release held tension patterns.
Dietz V. (2003) Spinal cord pattern generators for locomotion. Clin Neurophysiol 2003 Aug;114(8):1379-89.
- ‘It is generally accepted that locomotion in mammals, including humans, is based on the activity of neuronal circuits within the spinal cord (the central pattern generator, CPG)’
Wyne, K.T. (2005) A comprehensive review of tremor. JAAPA Vol.18, No. 12 December 2005. www.jaapa.com
- Some types of tremor listed by Wyne – Essential Tremors: ‘Most prevalent movement disorder, affecting 0.4% to 6% of the US population. Cause is unknown.’ Action Tremors: Postural, isometric, kinetic. Occur when moving. Enhanced Physiologic Tremor: Tremors are increased by physiologic or emotional states.
- ‘All patients have physiologic tremor, or rhythmic oscillatory movements of a body part with a relatively constant frequency and variable amplitude. Most people are unaware of these tremors, which are not usually visible to the naked eye. However, several factors can exacerbate inherent tremors to the point of dysfunction. Most of these factors increase sympathetic activity; they include medications, toxins, and physiologic or emotional states.’