5 Things To Do Straight After A Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues in your neck and occurs when your head moves backwards and then forward very suddenly and with great force. This movement can strain the joints, muscles, ligaments, discs or nerves in your neck and it is a very common injury following a rear-end car collision, or even from sporting injuries or amusement park rides.

whiplash spine

Your symptoms might not be apparent for a few days, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any symptoms and try and get on top of them early.

Here are a few tips to follow if you find yourself needing some guidance on how to manage your injury!

  1. Get on top of the pain!

Your neck won’t be too painful at the time of the accident, but there is normally a gradual increase in pain over the next 48-72 hours after the accident. Use either a heat bag to help reduce muscle stiffness  for the first few days – 20-30 mins every 3-4 hours. If you are already on medications for other health conditions, just double check with your Doctor before you take any anti-inflammatories.

  1. Stay active and working

Rest is good, but prolonged immobilising is not! Keep doing your usual daily activities as much as you can. People who stay at work have also been shown to have a better recovery than people who take a long time off. Just make sure to change any work routines that will really stress your neck, or talk to your employer about ways to modify those tricky tasks. Some pain and discomfort is normal during recovery, but you might need to adapt a few things to not strain your neck – be creative!

For example:

  • Change the sides that you carry things – bags, children etc.
  • Make more trips so that you carry less shopping etc.
  • Use a step-ladder to avoid reaching overhead
  1. Begin some neck exercises

Just like with any other injury, keeping your neck still for too long will stiffen up your neck.

These exercises will help to keep your muscles and joints moving and reduce postural strain and any muscle pain. Make sure to control your movements so that they are slow and smooth and keep your mouth and jaw relaxed. Remember not to push your neck into any pain and avoid sudden jerky movements.

Written by Rhiannon Barnard


cervical rotation for whiplash treatment
cervical side flexion for whiplash treatment
cervical extension for whiplash treatment
cervical flexion for whiplash treatment


  1. Watch out for your posture!

Set up your work or social spaces so that you are in the best position for your spine. Poor posture will put more strain through your neck and shoulders and can even make your pain worse. Making sure that you try and hold the correct posture will take some of the load off of your neck and shoulders.

A few tips are:

  • Raise the handlebars of your bike for a less bent-over position
  • Make sure your computer is directly in front of you and your desk is at a height that you
  • Get up and move around every hour or so if you are at work
  • In social situations, sit where you can see people straight on
  • Take a small towel or a neck pillow to support your neck if you are traveling
  • Sleep on your back or on your side so that your neck isn’t turned to one side
  1. Book an appointment with your Physio!

Come in and see your friendly physio! We will be able to help you with some advice on how to best manage your whiplash, and provide some hands-on treatment to get you back to your best!

We will work with you for as long as you need us to and can offer a number of services such as:

  • Give you some information on healing time frames what to expect from a whiplash injury
  • Advice about a modified return to your workplace and a gradual return to any sporting commitments
  • Hands on therapies such as massage and mobilisations for your neck and muscles
  • Providing some more exercises for you to do at home so that you can self-manage your injury