Whiplash: My 7 Best Stretches to Recover From Neck Injury

If you just experienced a bad whiplash or you're suffering from chronic neck pain, remember these simple stretches for fast recovery

On January 8, I was t-boned at an intersection. On August 25,  exactly 229 days into my recovery, I was finally able to get back into the gym and train with weights again. I'm not able to perform at the same level as before my injury, but the important thing is that I'm making progress.

To make a full recovery, the key is to have patience. Listen to your body, challenge yourself, and track your progress. 

I'm going to share with you the 7 stretches and movements I used to manage my neck pain to improve my healing process. Consistently finding time to squeeze in a few of these routines throughout your day will improve your neck mobility and reduce overall pain and stiffness.

Most of these stretches you can literally do anywhere. While you're in the office, at your desk, sitting in traffic, or waiting in line for the Vancouver Canucks hockey game, there's always an opportunity to fit these in your day.

Now, your trapezius muscle is the main focus because it is the primary support muscle for your neck stability. Our secondary muscle group is called the levator scapulae which is responsible for elevating or lifting the shoulder blades. When your levator scapulae is tender and irritated, it can cause pain which is concentrated at the back side of your head and down your shoulder blades. Finally, the last main muscle group we are focusing on is your scalene muscles (front part of your neck). These muscles are important because they can cause nerve pain when they are tight.

1. Side-to-Side Neck Release

This one is perfect for the muscle tissue attached to the side of your neck. Gently pull your head to one side so your ear approaches your shoulder. Hold for 10-15 seconds then repeat on the other side. Do this 3 times.

2. Chin Tucks

Sit straight or stand tall. Looking straight ahead, extend your face forward, hold for 3 seconds, then bring your face back, almost tucking in your chin (you may get a double chin thing happening - this is good!). 3 seconds extended, 3 seconds tucked. Do this 3 times.

3. Baby Cobra Pose

Start by lying down on your stomach with your palms to the floor directly under your shoulders. Keep your feet close together and pointed. Keep your elbows tucked and to your sides. Press your hands into the floor and lift your chest to create a slight back bend. Expand your chest, pull your shoulder blades together, extend your neck and inhale. On the exhale, slowly lower yourself and relax your muscles.

4. Clasping Neck Stretch

This is best when seated straight. Clasp your hands together and place them behind your head. Gently pull your head down, with your chin tucking into your chest and your spine in a tall, neutral position. Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 2 more times.

5. Cat-Cow Pose

This one is a little more complicated but it is one of the best for neck and back pain. 

Start on your hands and knees, hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. Your knees to your ankles should be hip-width apart. Keep your head neutral.

i. Moving into Cow Pose: Begin with an inhale as you lift your chest and chin, tilt your head back and focus your eyes toward the ceiling, while dropping your belly and arching back towards the floor.

ii. Moving to Cat Pose: As you exhale, slowly bring your head down and release towards the floor while arching your back to the ceiling.

Repeat 5-10 times.

6. Cervical Flexion/Rotation

Sit Straight or stand tall. First, turn your head so as to bring your chin to your shoulder then lower your head straight down towards your chest. Do this 5 times on each side.

7. Forward Resistance 

Sit straight or stand in a neutral position. Using the palm of your hand apply a light pressure to your forehead while pushing against your palm with your head. Maintain pressure for 3-5 seconds per set. Keep your head upright and straight. Do this 3- 5 times.

 

Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and if someone took a bulldozer to the place, it wouldn't be repaired in a day either. So please, take things slow and let time be the deciding factor of your healing process.

 

Happy healing!  #WeAreRaw