Whiplash is not an uncommon injury in our culture. Unfortunately, it is quite frequent. According to the Whiplash Prevention Campaign nearly 200 rear-end collisions occur a day in BC alone. With rear-end collisions being the main cause for Whiplash it is safe to say that many people are effected.
For many individuals with a yoga practice already or those who haven’t tried yet, a physical practice is generally taken off the table as am form of rehabilitation. Pictures of big twists and memories of shoulderstand can understandably send someone running the other direction. Thankfully I am able to work with individuals in various stages of a whiplash injury sharing asana, pranayama, and meditation practice to aid in the stages of healing. And for those patients and physiotherapists who have been willing to give it a try have seen the great benefits.
Some benefits of Yoga in the various stages of a whiplash injury:
-Aids in easing anxiety and calming the fight or flight response
-Improves propreoception and overall body awareness
-Can gently maintain mobility and function while the body heals
-Balances energy levels
– Aids in improving immune function
– Increases overall strength and core stability
The list goes on….
The most important and long-term benefit that I have noticed, however, is people getting back in control of their body. Often, those that come into the clinic for treatment are not at fault for the collision. They also usually have lawyers or family and friends telling them to “hold out” for larger settlements and they very quickly fall into the role of the victim. Some even hold tight onto the strings of entitlement, believing that they are “owed”. According to a study by the NHS, it generally takes 32 days to recover, but one in five sufferers continue to still have symptoms up to a year later. Not surprisingly, this can lead to depression, anxiety and a range of other stress-related illnesses.
It is clear to many in the rehabilitation setting that people very quickly give up the right to their body and get stuck. Believing that it is someone else’s responsibility to make them better and deciding that they won’t be happy until they can feel “normal”again. All the various aspects of Yoga practice truly play a vital role in showing people that they can be in control of their breath, their body, and their thought patterns. It puts individuals back in the drivers seat and creates a more realistic template for setting goals and moving away from being the victim to the victor.
So how should you go about adding a yoga practice in safely with physiotherapy/RMT treatment when suffering from whiplash?
1. If you don’t have a physiotherapist already look for a clinic or rehab center that is associated with a yoga studio or employs someone who does Yoga rehab/therapy so that it can be an option on your recovery road. Some insurance companies will even approve active rehabilitation by a physiotherapy assistant or kinesiologist so use this to your advantage and find one that also teaches yoga.
2. Schedule some one-on-ones with a therapeutic Yoga instructor. Sometimes (not always) more pricey but a great way to get some insight into moving forward with a yoga practice independently. Just one or two sessions can make a world of difference and keep your body safe in the class setting.
3. Once you have moved beyond the acute phase of your injury and your health professional gives you the okay, check out a restorative or gentle hatha yoga class. ***Also let your instructor know your injury*** Most instructors know how to provide students with props and modifications to suit every body.
4. If your budget is a little tight from paying for all your treatment and possibly loosing time from work, the internet is a great source for meditation tips and gentle yoga videos. Find something that resonates with you. Also websites like YogaGlo are a great source for at home practice.
For more information on Yoga for rehabilitation or how to enhance your practice after an injury please don’t hesitate to contact me .