Whiplash & Neck Pain – The Key Exercises

Whiplash refers to the soft tissue damage caused by a sudden thrust of the head back and forth pushing your cervical vertebrae beyond its normal range.

What happens post whiplash?

A lot of the soft tissue – aka the muscles and ligaments – could be damaged and inflamed causing pain in the neck and shoulders along with a whirlwind of other whiplash symptoms. It might feel impossible to move your head and neck, but avoiding movement and exercise will only make things tougher in the long run. If you missed our last blog, make sure to catch-up on our whiplash guide to recovery.

Post-injury, the natural shape of your cervical spine is often reversed! So realigning your spine with chiropractic care is key to full recovery.

It is so important to perform gentle exercises so you don’t lose any mobility or muscle mass. We’ll talk you through 3 of our absolute favourite exercises which will do just that! These moves aren’t limited to those suffering from whiplash, if you’re experiencing general neck and shoulder pain, they’ll also do you the world of good.

For all the below exercises make sure you’re in a comfortable position with your back straight.

1. Gentle neck rotation

Neck pain exercises

Start by looking straight ahead

Slowly turn your head to the right

Focus your eyes on the tips of your shoulders

Pause for 5 seconds

Return back to your initial position, before turning to the opposite side

Repeat 10 times on each side

It might seem simple but remember that the aim is to maintain your normal range of motion.

2. Neck retraction

Whiplash treatment
The normal cervical curve is reversed post-whiplash injury.

Grab a towel or a scarf and place it behind your head

Hold one end of the towel in each hand

Now draw your chin in using the towel to keep your head in position

This might not be the most flattering pose BUT if you feel like you’re creating a ‘double chin’, you’re doing it right!

This way you’re elongating the back of your neck and supporting the natural curve of your spine, which might have been reversed.

3. Shoulder retraction

Whiplash treatment

There are many ways to retract your shoulder blades, but the simplest way is to start in a standing position with your feet hip width apart.

Simply draw your shoulder blades in towards your spine without shrugging your shoulders

Hold for 10 seconds

Repeat 10 times

With neck injuries, it’s very likely that other muscles will compensate for the lack of support to your head. This can create all sorts of posture problems so don’t skip this shoulder retraction exercise.

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