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Best Exercises for Whiplash Pain

by Patty Weasler, RN March 06, 2020 0 Comments

Many people are nervous to perform whiplash exercises after their injury. However mobilizing your neck as soon as possible may reduce pain, swelling, and scar tissue tightness. Talk to your doctor before you start your exercise program to clear your neck from any other injuries that might be contraindicated with these exercises.

Best Exercises for Whiplash

Whiplash treatment with neck exercises will strengthen your neck, upper back, and shoulders. It will also prevent tightness in your neck and joints. We always recommend consulting with your doctor or physical therapist for medical advice on when you can start exercising and resume normal activities.


Chin tuck exercises will work your neck and upper back. Start by standing with your back against the wall looking straight ahead. Pull your chin and head back against the wall, you should feel it along the sides of your neck. You’re doing it right if you have a double chin.

Hold this exercise for three to five seconds then release. Repeat 10 times up to three sets.

Neck Flexion and Extension

During the neck flexion and extension range of motion exercise, you’ll need to maintain good posture. Start your head looking forward and mouth wide open. Extend your neck and head backward so you are looking up at the ceiling. Slowly close your mouth. Then tilt your head to one side for a moment, then tilt it to the other side. You should feel a stretch on the sides of your neck when you tilt your head. Bring your head back into midline and bring your head back up. For the last movement, slowly bring your chin to your chest for neck flexion.

Neck Rotation

Neck rotation exercise will work the sides of your neck. Start off by sitting in a chair with your back straight and looking forward. Turn your head to one side as far as you can comfortably go, looking over your shoulder. Hold that position for five seconds. Return your head to the midline position. Look over the other shoulder as far as you can comfortably move and hold that side for five seconds.

Repeat this exercise five to 10 times on each side.

Neck Isometrics

Doing neck isometrics is an easy exercise that can be done just about anywhere. Sit up in a chair looking straight ahead. Place your hand on your forehead and press your head against your hand without letting your hand move. Now put your hand on the left side of your head, above your ear and push your head against your hand. Repeat this movement on the right side of your head and the back of your head.

Each movement should be held for five to six seconds. Repeat the movements 10 to 15 times.

Brugger’s Stretch

Brugger’s stretch works the areas that tend to be tight after a car accident. Start by sitting on the edge of a chair, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a resistance band with one end in each hand, you may need to move your hands to make your band shorter based on the resistance you need. Hold the band out in front of you with palms facing upward. Bring your arms out to your sides, pulling the band tight. Bring your arms down towards your waist. You should feel the stretch in the front of the shoulders and across the chest.

Tips for Neck Exercises

Neck exercise is a useful treatment for neck pain related to whiplash. But you should always talk to your doctor first to clear you of additional neck injuries. There are a few symptoms you need to watch out for while you exercise. Here’s a list of symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore:

  • Dizziness
  • Severe pain that doesn’t get better with position change
  • Pain shooting through the arm
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm

An exercise program for whiplash can improve symptoms of whiplash. Like with other exercise plans there are a few important notes that you should know:

  • Movements should be done slowly and without sudden movement.
  • Expect some discomfort and don’t let that stop you.
  • Improvement can take several weeks.
  • Hearing or feeling snaps and clicks is common.

How do Exercises Help Whiplash Pain?

After you’ve been in an accident and received a whiplash injury, exercise may sound like the last thing you want to do. However, the old ways of immobilization and long term rest are no longer recommended. As soon as you are able, you should start an exercise plan to strengthen your neck, speed up healing, and minimize tight scar tissue development.

When you don’t exercise your neck muscles regularly they become weak and can atrophy. On top of that, when joints are moved after an injury they can develop scar tissue around them. If the joint isn’t moved the scar tissue can be so tight that it makes it difficult to move. Keeping your neck moving will prevent these problems, which will reduce pain in the long run.

Performing Whiplash Exercises Safely

If you are suffering from whiplash you’ll probably just want to lay in bed and rest. But that’s just about the last thing you should be doing. Exercise will strengthen your muscles, provide pain relief, and improve healing time. It’s one of the many treatment options for whiplash symptoms that can be done just about anywhere at any time. Before you start an exercise program talk to your doctor to make sure it’s safe for your situation.




Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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