Many people will experience whiplash and back pain after an auto collision. The first instinct is to rest and guard your body. This can be helpful in the beginning when symptoms are acute and inflammation is present. However, movement and exercise are important parts of the healing process. Exercise helps decrease overall pain and can prevent a cycle of chronic pain.
Unlike muscle, the joints and discs of the spine do not have blood vessels within them and receive their nutrition by diffusion. Diffusion is a slow process and limits the speed of regeneration and healing of the joints. Diffusion can be sped up by moving joints, which is one way that exercise can help reduce pain. Exercise such as walking or jogging can help move nutrients in and out of cartilage and the discs of the spine, improving healing.
Pain and discomfort with exercise should be kept to a manageable level, as excessive strain can increase inflammation and can make your auto injury worse. Typical pain levels should be kept at 5/10 or below on a 10 point pain scale. Conversely, limiting yourself to a completely discomfort and pain free exercise routine may not be enough to produce improvement and can reinforce pain.
Some exercises including sit-ups place excessive strain on your back and alternatives should be done instead. Contact your chiropractor if you are experiencing neck or back pain after an auto accident.