The sudden jerks you receive in the neck, mostly during accidents or extreme adventure sports causes the neck muscles and ligaments to tear apart. This neck injury is more commonly known as whiplash or, in medical terms, Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration (CAD). The injury mostly occurs during motor vehicle accidents which are caused by impact to the rear end. The injury was first noted in early 1900’s and then was known as the railroad spine as there were no cars then.
Exercises for recovery
Though the time taken for recovery differs from patient to patient, you can practice the following exercises to get some relief. Be sure to consult with your physical therapist or exercise therapist before starting with any of the following exercises.
Exercise #1: Rotation
Be seated with correct spinal position. Gently turn your back to the left, rotating your neck as far as possible without any pain. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds and repeat for the opposite side. Make 8-10 repetitions for each side per set and try to stretch a little more than before.
Exercise #2: Side Bending
Sit down and hold your back upright. Start with your head firmly centered in the forward direction. Now, bend your neck sideways towards the left, bringing the ear lobe as close to your right shoulder as possible. You will feel a general strain in the muscles on the opposite side of your neck. Stretch your neck till your injury permits. Repeat this exercise for the right side.
Exercise #3: Forward and Backward bending
Stand in a neutral position. Bend your neck and take your head downwards with the chin touching your chest. Hold for 3 seconds and resume neutral position. Now, lift your head up with neck bending backwards, looking at the ceiling. Now hold this position for 3 seconds and return to neutral.
Exercise #4: Back-muscle exercise
Lie on your stomach with the upper body raised and resting on your elbows. Now, gently start moving your head up and down in a constant motion as if saying ‘Yes’. The exercise though seems simple is very effective on the upper back muscles of your neck.
Exercise #5: Back-muscle exercise
Lie on your stomach with the upper body raised and resting on your elbows. Now, gently start moving your head from side to side in a motion that resembles saying ‘No’. Make sure turn your head only 30 degrees towards each side.
Exercise #6: Back-muscle exercise
Lie on your stomach with the upper body raised and resting on your elbows. Now, gently start moving your head and neck to look downwards with your chin touching your chest region. Lift up your head in gentle motion to assume the starting position. While you perform this exercise, make sure your eyes are concentrated on the ground or the area between your forearms. This keeps your upper neck in a steady position, while your lower neck is worked upon.
Exercise #8: Neck Isometric Exercise (No movement)
Stand with a neutral spine position. Place your left hand on your left cheek with your head slightly lifted from the back. Now, move your eyes towards left and try and push your head towards the same direction with gentle force. You will experience a contraction in the back of your head. Hold it for 3-5 seconds and then resume normal position. Repeat this exercise for the other side.
Recovery form a whiplash injury is possible with the right mix of exercises, protection measures and posture correction. If the pain in your neck persists or develops into a chronic ailment, see your physiotherapist for further consultation.