Exercise and Acute Motor Vehicle Accidents

While it is most common that patients are told to rest immediately post motor vehicle accidents (MVA), research shows that resting during the acute phase (first 1-2 weeks) can hinder and prevent recovery.

It is imperative that post Motor Vehicle Accidents we maintain range of motion (ROM). Often this will not be comfortable; however, if not performed, we could be setting ourselves up for more pain in the long-term. Studies have compared the outcomes from those who perform exercise immediately post Motor Vehicle Accidents compared to those who were told to rest and not return to work for 14 days. Those who rested performed significantly worse and took much longer to return to ‘normal’ in comparison to the exercise group. It is very easy to fall into the ‘wait until’ phase which is described as waiting until the pain goes away prior to commencing exercises. In this case, we can fall into a viscous pain cycle shown below.

Motor Vehicle Accident Best Practices

Instead, we want to pace ourselves and progress in a staircase fashion where we do a little each day, and gradually improve our function. Resistance exercises are ideal for our muscles post Motor Vehicle Accident to gradually build their trust and regain prior function. Repetition and frequency are important in retraining these postural muscles that are mostly affected in the neck and back. With a combination, we can break the cycle above by decreasing stiffness, increasing sleep, mood, our social life and therefore decreasing pain.

Early intervention and an experienced clinical team to support you can help steer you towards a speedy recovery.

Our Kinesiologist can help you recover from Motor Vehicle Accident injuries through Active Rehabilitation.




1 January 1998 – Volume 23 – Issue 1 – p 25–31

Cervical Spine
Acute Treatment of Whiplash Neck Sprain Injuries: A Randomized Trial of Treatment During the First 14 Days After a Car Accident
Borchgrevink, Grethe E. PhD*; Kaasa, Aaste MD*; McDonagh, David MD*; Stiles, Tore C. PhD; Haraldseth, Olav PhD; Lereim, Inggard PhD*

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