Milton Trager started his career as a boxer and later became involved in bodywork therapy when he realised that he could intituitvely feel people's tensions in their body and relieve these tensions with gentle appropriate movements. Encouraged by his early success, he relieved his father from sciatica and helped friends, he went on to train as a physical therapist and later as a doctor, he also learnt transcendental meditation which greatly influenced him. He opened the Trager Institute in California in 1980.


According to Trager there is a connection between the physical structure of the body and the unconscious mind as a result emotional trauma may be locked within the tissues of the body. Like Rolf, Trager believes that connective tissue (the fibrous tissues that surround muscles, nerves, organs, glands) is affected by emotional or physical trauma, it can tighten and become rigid which can block the healthy flow of energy and lead to illness.

A session

A typical session lasts between one hour and one and a half-hour. It involves two stages:

- The client is first assessed by the therapist and then taught a series of mental and physical gymnastics exercises called "mentastics" which involve shaking or swinging the hands or the feet and dance like movements that enhance relaxation. The principle behind mentastics is that this memory of a pleasurable, positive feeling experience can then replace emotional trauma that may have been stored up previously. Clients are asked to use their “mentastics” exercises at home.

- After mentastics the therapist hooks up: he/she enters a state of meditation that is believed to allow him/her to better sense tension areas in the body. Movements such as cradling, rocking, stretching and pulling are used. Contrary to other bodywork therapies, when therapists locate tension in their clients their touch becomes lighter, which they say promotes the release of tension. Tragerwork releases unconscious patterns of holding tension as individuals are encouraged to let go. At the end of a session they move more freely and effortlessly.


Research on Tragerwork is not well documented; a recent study showed that this technique is an effective treatment for reducing chronic shoulder pain in wheelchair users with spinal cord injury. Dyson-Hudson TA, Shiflett SC, Kirshblum SC. Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 2001 Aug;82(8). In 1993 a study in the journal Spine indicated that Tragerwork can ease pain.

Conditions that respond to Tragerwork

Muscular dystrophy
Multiple Sclerosis
Neuromuscular problems
Spinal problems



Trager UK
Station Road

Trager Institute
3800 Park East Drive
Suite 100, Room 1
Ohio 44122
Tel: (001) 216 896-9383


These are some of the references that have been passed to us; the list is not exhaustive. We have not necessarily read the books and cannot say how easy it will be to get them.

- Trager M., Hammond C. Movement As a Way to Agelessness : A Guide to Trager Mentastics. ISBN: 0882681672

- Liskin J. Moving Medicine : The Life and Work of Milton Trager, M.D. ISBN: 0882681966.

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