Whiplash is caused by physical trauma that causes your head to snap forwards and backwards very sharply.  It’s most commonly caused by traffic accidents or sports injuries.

Whiplash injuries normally involve pain in the muscles around the neck and, in severe cases, mild traumatic brain injury.

In less severe cases, sufferers experience reasonably mild neck and shoulder pain and stiffness and sometimes headaches.  Other symptoms include dizziness, pain that extends down the shoulders and the arms or a sensation of weakness in the arms.

How Long Will it Take to Heal?

This depends on the extent and the severity of the whiplash.  In most cases, you will find yourself able to undertake your usual daily activities, but it can take several weeks or months for the pain and stiffness to clear up entirely.

If your pain is intense or persistent, it may be necessary to reduce your activity for a few weeks.  However, you should aim to return to normal activity levels as soon as possible as after the accident.

Exercises to Help

Chin Nod

Lie down with a soft pillow under your neck and with your knees bent in the semi-supine position.  Slowly and carefully nod your head forward.  Pay attention to the muscles at the front of your neck and stop the forward motion before you feel them contract.  Hold the final position for five seconds and then gently and slowly move your head back to the start position.  Work your way up to repeating this exercise ten times.

Rotation

In a neutral standing position, gently and slowly turn your head from one side to the other.  Make sure your eyes follow a natural arc in line with the direction of your head.  Try to turn your head until your chin is over your shoulder – you may need to work up to this position gradually.  Work up to ten repetitions each side.

Isometric Exercises

Sit in a neutral position in a comfortable chair.  Make sure your lower back is straight, pull your shoulder blades gently back and down.  Deliberately relax your chin.  Put your right hand on your right cheek.  Now gently rotate your head to the right whilst resisting the movement with your hand.  The resistance you apply with your hand should be just enough to stop your head from actually moving.  Hold this position for five seconds whilst pushing with your hand, but check your effort. This exercise must be performed gently, so don’t exert more than 10% - 20% effort.  Do five repetitions on each side.

General Advice about Exercising After Whiplash

    • Perform all exercises slowly and carefully, paying attention to any warning pains.
    • Try to make each movement as smooth and controlled as possible without any strain, tension or jerkiness.
    • Relax your mouth, chin and jaw relaxed. Your lips should be touching but with your teeth slightly apart.
    • If you experience dizziness, blurred vision, fainting, sudden pain or unusually severe pain or if you are finding that exercising your neck causes headaches, you should see your physician as soon as possible.

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