Our bodies are subject to a ripple effect. Just one injury can end up affecting our entire well being. A car accident is a traumatic event that can cause residual effects on your body for weeks, months, and even years. It can take time to assess how you feel, and a proper recovery rests on that ability. Although each person and situation is different, there are many common injuries after any sort of auto accident. Although each car accident has their own unique conditions — such as the angle of the collision and the position of where each person is located during the crash — many patients experience similar symptoms. In this series, we are re going to discuss four common injuries that, without treatment, can turn into chronic problems.
By far, the most common auto accident injury is whiplash. After the initial whiplash, the muscles tighten to protect the spine and decrease any more potential trauma to the area. With that development, the muscles do not return to their normal length which can soreness or discomfort. Bottom line: After the initial trauma, the body tries to compensate for the affected areas. This can often lead to feelings of tightness, loss of motion (hard to turn your neck), and tension headaches.
When our muscles are tightened and then shortened over time, this will cause us to lose proper posture. What began as an injury has now turned into a bad habit, and this can be the hardest part of the pattern to break. Not only does improper posture stagnate the recovery process, the tightened muscles in the neck can lead to chronic headaches and pain.
How do we resolve this potential cycle of pain before it begins?
Remember, the initial cause of this was the muscle group tightening around the neck and shoulders. To keep this area flexible and relaxed, stretching is key. Levator scapula stretches help to lengthen this muscle where it attaches to your shoulder-blade (scapula), offering better range of motion and a more relaxed position. This, in turn, will help you to maintain proper posture by keeping your neck and shoulders neutral, relaxed, and the muscles elongated.
If you are already experiencing tension headaches, a simple stretch can be utilized by facing straight ahead, putting one hand on the back of your skull, and gently pulling your chin down to your chest. This will lengthen the neck muscles and release any tension that has been causing headaches.
A car accident can inflict many systemic injuries, but with knowledge and consistent practice, you can stem the onset of pain. Of course, the best way to ensure relief from chronic pain is by visiting a specialist that can cater to your exact needs.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Advanced Spine & Wellness Center for their insight into car accidents and neck injuries.