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Whiplash Associated Disorder

01/04/2018 Massage for injury

Whiplash associated disorder usually occurs following a road traffic accident, fall or contact sport injury. Whiplash associated disorder relates to injury to the bone, surrounding soft tissues and/or the nervous system which vary depending on the force and direction of the impact or collision.  

The mechanism of whiplash is an acceleration-deceleration movement where the initial impact sends the body forwards leaving the head and neck behind causing hyperextension of the neck. The muscles in the front of the neck are stretched which stimulates the stretch reflex mechanism causing the neck to forcefully move into hyperflexion. Due to the mechanism of injury associated with whiplash a range of structures could be affected therefore each individual experience of whiplash can be different however the common symptoms associated with whiplash include;

Although whiplash can feel traumatic there a range of treatment modalities available to promote recovery and ensure you return to full functioning as soon as possible.

Self-help tips

There are a number of techniques you yourself can perform to promote recovery following whiplash which include:

The main thing to remember is keep moving! Try to avoid complete bed rest or immobilising your neck as this can often lead to increased stiffness and pain.

Massage therapy

Massage therapy alongside other manuel therapy techniques can be extremely beneficial in whiplash associated disorder and can help to:

Massage therapy can be applied to the anterior or posterior neck and shoulder muscles which may have been affected by the collision. The application of massage therapy can reduce the stiffness felt following whiplash by increasing blood circulation and tissue temperature and promoting collagen fibre alignment. The effects of massage therapy can be complimented using joint mobilisations which help to improve the nutrition within the joint, promote collagen fibre alignment in surrounding soft tissue structures and reduce pain.

The Author

Louise Rigby

Louise is a happy, passionate and reliable member of the massage team. Louise graduated with a Sports Therapy Bsc (Hons) degree in 2015 from the University of Central Lancashire. During her degree Louise gained experience working with the Rochdale hornets rugby club and the Fijian Rugby league team. In addition to her degree she has gained VTCT Level 4 certificate in sports massage and has attained a Level 2 emergency aid and trauma management qualification. Louise is a member of the Society of Sports Therapists and regularly takes part in CPD within the clinic and at external events. Louise has knowledge and experience with the assessment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries. Louise thoroughly enjoys her role as a Sport Therapist and loves meeting new patients. Louise has always had a keen interest in sport which lead her to achieve 1st place in a national cheerleading competition! When not in work Louise loves to surround herself with friends and family and watch the odd Disney film!


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