Most of us don’t think about our posture on a daily basis, or maybe we have a fleeting thought that we should sit up straight. But posture impacts our spine, which plays a huge role in the body’s health and alignment, and it can be difficult to maintain. An injury like whiplash and the associated neck pain it causes can impact our posture and have effects that last beyond the injury itself. As a part of recovery from whiplash, you should be sure to check in on your posture and strengthen it to avoid future issues.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is the most common injury sustained in car accidents and is especially likely when your car is hit from behind, or rear-ended. While the car comes to a sudden stop, your body continues to move for a split second, causing the head to whip forward and backward at a speed you don’t normally move. This abnormal movement causes the tissues in your neck to stretch beyond their capacity, leading to tears and strains in these tissues. These injuries are known as whiplash.
Though whiplash is very common, it is also very treatable. The major symptoms associated are neck pain and stiffness in the neck that makes motion difficult. A combination of pain management, chiropractic care, and physical therapy usually resolves whiplash within a few months. However, the time you spend living with that neck pain may cause you to change your posture.
The Importance of Good Posture
Posture refers to the way in which you hold your body while sitting or standing- good posture means to be in alignment, with your body supported and no extra stress placed on your spine. Most of us don’t have perfect posture, especially because looking at phone and computer screens has a major impact on posture due to the way we curve our necks. This is so common it is known as “tech neck.”
Much of posture comes down to habits. Consistently sitting upright, avoiding slouching, and positioning the body in certain ways both maintains good posture and prevents the body from developing incorrectly. But when we are injured, we often count on other body parts to compensate for the injury, shifting our posture to do so.
Posture and Whiplash
Imagine that you are having difficulty moving your neck- that means you may not be able to turn your head side to side or look up and down. Now imagine trying to complete a normal task like brushing your teeth in this state. You may need to make changes, bending your whole back to lean over the sink or crouching to reach something. While the condition is temporary, you are moving muscles and joints in abnormal ways, which can place stress on them or cause future damage. This is what happens when you have whiplash.
Once your whiplash is healed, you may notice that other parts of your body feel out of alignment, likely because of the extra work you asked them to do during recovery. Some of this compensation may have a negative impact on your posture, which often leads to more accommodations, creating a feedback loop of injury over time.
Avoiding the Problem
If you are suffering from an injury like whiplash, making some temporary adjustments is inevitable. The key is to not carry these past your recovery. Working with a chiropractor and physical therapist is the best way to ensure you don’t form bad habits, as they will be able to focus on the way your body is shifting as you heal.
A holistic recovery program means that not just your whiplash is the focus, but your body’s health and functioning as a whole. Through exercises and adjustments, your body will be able to better maintain alignment going forward. Many people even find that they leave physical therapy with better posture than they had before the accident due to the strength gained during treatment!
It also works the other direction- having good posture can help you sit properly in the car, allowing your seatbelt to work more effectively and causing less severe injuries in the future.
If you are suffering from neck pain or whiplash, contact AICA College Park today to schedule your first consultation.