Auto accidents are major events that can cause significant injury. One of the areas particularly injured by auto accidents is the joint ligaments. These ligaments support and guide movement of the joint and keep these movements within a safe range. When the ligaments are stretched and weakened, they are unable to maintain this stable joint motion.
Exercise is important after an injury such as those sustained in an auto collision. However, due to the damaged and weakened structures including muscles, ligaments, and joints, it is necessary to ease into exercise.
This can be difficult for those that already had an existing exercise routine and are no longer able to exercise at a high level. Strenuous exercises that you could perform easily before an accident may not be possible right after, and it is easy to overexert yourself and aggravate symptoms. One issue is that strenuous exercise causes the body to release endorphins. These endorphins reduce pain and make you feel better. However, as with pain medication, the sensation of pain can be reduced to the point where you don’t notice an appropriate level of pain and discomfort and the healing tissues can be reinjured. This situation can result in a significant increase in pain and discomfort after exercise, despite feeling well while exercising.
Weight lifting can be particularly hard on the joints early on after an accident. Heavy weights leverage against the joints throughout the body, not just the shoulders, arms, and hands. When lifting weights, the arms act as the long arm of a lever system, multiplying force that is countered in the back. Shear or translational forces on the vertebral joints of the back is especially problematic after an accident, as the ligaments provide much of the support and strength to control shear force.
Weight lifting should be avoided early on after a collision, and gradually brought back as your body recovers and regains strength. Stretching and mobilization activities are appropriate throughout the healing process, but care must still be taken when selecting appropriate stretches.
Injuries sustained in auto accidents vary significantly from case to case. It can be difficult to determine when you are ready to reintroduce weight lifting into your exercise routine. Your Chiropractor will be able to advise you on appropriate exercises throughout the course of your treatment and recovery, and provide advise as to modifications that may be needed. Contact your Chiropractor if you have been injured in an auto collision.