On the road this summer? Car accidents happen a lot in the US, so if you have just experienced one, you've joined the multitude of unfortunate others with a new wreck in their hands. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents happen at frequent intervals estimated at one every 60 seconds. That equates to about 17 thousand car accidents each day and 5.25 million accidents across the nation on a yearly basis. Whoa!! That’s a lot. At Alpine PT we see many clients who have recently been in a car accident and it’s not uncommon to have some lingering aches and pains from such an event. We asked our PT’s to weigh in on some helpful advice if you find yourself a new member of this club this summer.
Brace Hayden reminds people of these statistics, as they're quite common and can upset our lives in many ways. He understands that there are usually hassles with body damage to your car, haggling with insurance companies, the police and the other driver, and the aftermath of contusions and whiplash-related injuries. His advice to start is to “take a deep breath, harness your inner-calm, as this will get better...but I get it that at the present time it wasn't fun being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
If you notice some aches and pains coming on after a car accident, Dennis McCrea recommends that you get a referral to a Physical Therapist, of course. “Then I would recommend they use heat or ice, perform gentle movements of their neck, brief rest breaks and gentle massage until they see the PT and avoid a lot of looking down as with reading and looking at their phone.”
Gentle movements immediately following a car accident and for the next few days is a common recommendation from our PT’s. Angela Listug-Vap has this advice “Know that delayed soreness is totally expected and normal. You might feel stiff with movement but don't be afraid to do light movement, walking and gentle rotations in the neck and back - it'll actually help even if it's sore in the moment.” Matt Schweitzer concurs, advising “gentle walking or gentle activity to keep moving help the blood circulate through the body. Listen to your body to not over do the intensity or duration.”
Another piece of advice from Angela includes drinking extra water and icing sore areas. Water is an essential component of healing and an easy thing to try, and unfortunately many of us are already chronically dehydrated. Ice can be a miracle pain reliever without harsh side effects. All you need is 15 to 20 minutes, a few times per day.
Advice from Leah Versteegen is along the same lines, reminding us how common it is to be sore, but that gentle movement is safe and helpful. “Onset of pain a few days after a car accident is pretty common. This delayed onset muscle soreness is similar to how your body may feel sore 2-3 days after running a marathon for the first time or that first day of ski season when your body isn't quite in shape. Your tissues are not prepared for the impact of a car accident and let you know by creating that feeling of stiffness and soreness for days and even weeks after. Getting in to see a PT for an assessment and some advice on how to best help your body recover is essential during this time period. Everyone's body is different, and every accident is a little different so making sure that your recovery plan is catered to your specific needs is important. Your body will heal and with the guidance provided by your PT, you can get back to doing what you love most just a little faster.”
Bottom line is that as long as you have no severe injuries, be ready for some delayed soreness. Don’t hesitate to seek referral to PT, stay hydrated and get some gentle exercise and movement going. You can call us at (406) 251-2323 to get scheduled and safe driving this summer!