Have you ever been in a car accident or thrown forward when the car had to stop suddenly? Bumped into someone or something hard? Whiplash is one of the side effects of such movements and it isn’t usually diagnosed because we usually don’t go to the hospital unless we are very ill. Whiplash occurs when the soft tissue in the spine is stretched and strained after the body is thrown in a sudden, forceful jerk.
I had whiplash and didn’t realise it. It was compounded by fashion – the big and, yes, heavy bags (we ladies just know how to fill a bag no matter the size). I had this pain in my shoulder and it spread to my neck and after a few years, I had tingles down my right arm. I still didn’t go in. I just happened to visit a chiropractor with a friend and thought to mention my pain as conversation filler. He checked me out and said the added strain of the bags had weakened my neck muscles and my nerves were being affected.
So, to avoid almost destroying your muscles, please see a physiotherapist if, you are in pain instead of self medicating. Below, are some simple exercises to relieve pain and stiffness in the neck and back of the head and to keep them strong:
Stand against a door or a wall with your head facing forward and move your eyes so you look towards the two, four, eight, and 10 o’clock positions. Repeat this a few times. This eye movement causes a slight movement in some deep muscles in the back of the head.
Next, take a step forward and perform the following movements.
1. Look straight ahead of you, keep your shoulders and jaw relaxed and imagine you have a stack of heavy books on your head and a glass of water on the books – I need you to move slowly. Now imagine you have a pencil attached to your nose and draw small circles clockwise on the wall in front of you. Come back to your start and draw another set of small 5 circles anticlockwise.
2. Come back to start, draw another set of circles clockwise but this time makes your circles bigger – remember the books and glass of water on your head. Feel the tension leave your neck.
3. Draw your chin in towards your neck and bend the head carefully forward as if bringing your forehead to your chest. Return to the start position.
4. Now bend the head backwards far enough to look at the ceiling. Hold for 5 counts and return to the start position.
5. Tilt the head sideways, so the right ear comes to the right shoulder. If possible try to look straight ahead of you and keep your focus eye level. Hold for 10 counts and return to start. Repeat on the left side. Don’t move the shoulders.
6. Turn the head as if trying to look backwards over the shoulder, first to the left and then to the right. Imagine following a horizontal line on the wall at eye level.
7. You can also use a beach ball or a soft ball to exercise the head and neck muscles. Place the ball between the wall and the forehead and then try to move it around on the wall in circles or figures of eights. Repeat the exercise, this time placing the ball between the back of the head and the wall.
Love your body.