The Trager Approach is an expression of the work of Dr. Milton Trager. He became interested in the connection between the physical body and the mind as a young man. An active gymnast and athlete, he was striving to get the best performance from his own body. What began as self-exploration of the interaction between the body and the mind, developed into an approach that could be used with others as well as oneself.
The approach focuses on getting the most efficient use of our neuromuscular system. Through the use of gentle movement it explores how we use our bodies. It gives us a chance to see what causes pain, discomfort or limitations in movement. Based on the idea that the nervous system controls our muscular responses, the approach maintains that all work or movements be made without pain. Pain activates the nervous system, thus causing tightening of muscles that can result in possible pain and the restriction of movement. This is especially true with chronic pain. Dr. Trager taught that it is most important for the body to experience functional, pain-free movement; thus the approach utilizes this principle as its foundation.
During a Trager session, which can be given either clothed or under draping, clients are encouraged to share with their therapist any time that a movement or technique causes discomfort. When this occurs, the therapist and client work together to find ways to treat the area in a pain-free manner; thus the client is involved directly in their own therapy. Sessions include table work and self-care movement activities that the client can use outside of the session to help support their therapy. Clients are also encouraged to explore thought process and attitudes that may also affect the neuromuscular system. A series of questions are used to help explore what could be more comfortable. Besides being very informative about the client’s neuromuscular system, the sessions are very relaxing as well. The basic principle of this approach is that the client experiences what it is like to be comfortable and feel good during the session. This trains the nervous system to operate in the most efficient and functional manner. Dr. Trager invited his clients to go “swimming in the sea of pleasantness.” What could be easier or feel better than this! Frank Merillat is a certified Trager Practitioner.