5 Tips to Decrease your Risk for Whiplash

Auto accidents happen.  We do our best to avoid them and hope it doesn’t happen to us, but sometimes that’s out of our control, unfortunately.  Whiplash is a serious injury that occurs with accidents and can result in a lot of pain.  While you can’t always avoid whiplash, you can improve your set up and posture in your car to at least limit the effects!  Follow our 5 tips to improve your safety:

  1. Buy a car with an excellent rear –crash safety rating. ( check – iihs.org for safety ratings)
  2. Adjust the headrest/restraint – the top should be as high as your ears and no further than 3 inches away from the back of the head, tilt it forward if possible, the closer to the head the better.
    • Ideally, your head should be able to rest on your “head rest” in a comfortable slight chin tucked position
  3. Always wear your seat belt. Do not tailgate.
  4. Sit upright, it you are slouching or leaning to one side the headrest will not support your neck in the case of a crash.
  5. If you have enough reaction time, and hear a car screech behind you or see a crash coming, place your head against the headrest and face forward, this significantly minimizes the effect of the whiplash.

Again, you unfortunately can’t always avoid an accident, but if you follow our tips, you can at least limit your risk for serious injury.  Not only will these tips limit the effects of whiplash, but they will also set you up for better posture and decreased risk for pain during your accident free driving!
Happy, safer driving!
Carrol Esterhuizen, PT, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy, MHS, OCS, CPI


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