The Best Recovery Exercises for Whiplash

Last updated: January 31, 2023

Whiplash is a type of neck injury that can be caused by a sudden jerking or whipping motion of the head. It’s commonly seen in passengers of cars involved in a ‘rear-end’ accident and is caused by the sharp transferral of energy from one car to another. The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Physical exercise can help with these.

In severe cases, whiplash can lead to chronic pain, headaches, dizziness, and even vertigo. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are suffering from whiplash, there are some simple stretches you can do at home to help speed your recovery. The a2z team have put together a list of the best physical treatment neck exercises for whiplash. Let’s run through them quickly.

It’s important to be extra careful when doing neck exercises, as the neck is a delicate area of the body. It’s always a good idea to start slowly and gently, and to listen to your body to avoid overstretching or causing yourself any discomfort. If you experience serious pain or discomfort while doing any of these exercises, it’s best to stop and consult with a healthcare professional. It’s also important to maintain good posture throughout the exercise to ensure that you are targeting the right muscles and to avoid straining your neck.

Neck Retractions

This exercise targets the neck flexor muscles and can help improve alignment of the neck and spine, which can reduce tension headaches and improve overall comfort and function. Additionally, neck retractions can help improve balance and stability, especially when combined with other exercises that target the core and upper body. Sit or stand upright and gently tuck your chin in towards your chest. Slowly return to a neutral position, focusing on squeezing the shoulder blades together at the end of this exercise. Repeat 10-15 times in each direction.

Neck Retractions

Side Bends

These stretches aim to loosen the neck through lateral flexion. Side bends are a simple and effective way to improve the health and function of the neck and upper back.  Additionally, side bends can help improve posture by strengthening the muscles that support the spine, which can improve overall alignment and function. Sitting or standing upright with good posture, bend your neck and head to one side as far as is comfortable for you. Hold for 5 seconds then slowly straighten back up again, trying to keep your shoulders level at all times. Switch sides and repeat 10-15 times each way.

Side Bends

Arm Raises

These arm raises are targeted to loosen the entire neck and shoulder system. Sit or stand upright with good posture and raise both arms out in front of you until they are parallel to the ground, with your palms facing away from you. Do not swing your arms or jerk them to the parallel posture. Hold for three seconds, then slowly lower your arms back down to your sides. Repeat 10-15 times.

Arm Raises

Neck Circles

This is another exercise targeting many of the muscles in the neck. It’s important to perform it extremely gently at first, especially if you are suffering from neck pain. Sit or stand upright with good posture and make slow circles with your head, moving it forward and backward, right and left as far as is comfortable for you without forcing it too far beyond what feels natural. Complete five clockwise circles followed by five counterclockwise circles, taking care not to overstretch yourself.

neck circles

How frequently should I do the treatment exercises?

To prevent your neck pain from returning, continue doing the exercises for 6-8 weeks, even after the pain subsides. Most people, especially those who work in offices, can benefit from occasional neck exercises – these stretches aren’t just for people suffering from whiplash.

Get plenty of rest and take care of your neck

Whiplash can be a painful and debilitating injury, but with the right stretches and exercises you can improve your mobility and help relieve pain. But if you’re suffering from serious, ongoing neck pain, it’s important to seek help from a qualified professional immediately.  

In addition to these whiplash treatment exercises, make sure to get plenty of rest to help you recover, and try to avoid activities that could worsen your neck pain or injury, like strenuous physical exercise or sitting at a computer with poor posture for extended periods. You should also try to ensure you are sleeping with healthy posture and in such a way that your neck injury is not exacerbated.

Finally, it’s also very important to ensure you get plenty of fluids during the recovery process. Water is crucial for recovering from almost any sprain or injury because it helps to thin the blood, which in turn ensures that nutrients and oxygen can be easily transported throughout the body. This helps the cells in the affected area to repair themselves more quickly.

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