Exercise is an important part of whiplash treatment and is often overlooked by both patients and doctors. We will focus on several practical and effective exercises over the next several months. The first of this series can be called “brain exercises.”
Brain Exercise #1: Eyes Still, Move Head. Hold a pen a comfortable distance in front of your eyes and keep looking at it as you rotate your head from side to side ten times. Stop if you feel dizzy but keep trying after resting. Repeat three times a day.
Brain Exercise #2: Head Still, Move Eyes. Keep your head still (move only your eyes) while you move the pen left to right as far as you can ten times without losing sight of the pen. Stop if you feel dizzy but keep trying later in the day. Repeat three times a day.
Brain Exercise #3: Standing Balance Test. Stand with your feet close together (or feet shoulder width apart, if you feel unsteady). You should feel steady for 30 seconds with your eyes open AND closed. Try it (count to 30)! If you feel unsteady, this exercise should be repeated often until you feel improvement with the eyes closed! A variation is to place one foot in front of the other, switching feet after each test. Notice this one is more difficult. A third position is standing on ONE foot (switch sides after each test) with the eyes open AND again closed. This one is REALLY hard! Stand near a counter or corner of a room to “catch” yourself – don’t fall.
Notice that these exercises are NOT neck specific; there are others exercises for that. Rather, these incorporate eye / head movements, coordination/balance challenges and address symptoms such as dizziness, headache, post-concussion symptoms (memory loss, difficulty concentrating, etc.), and others. These exercises can be very helpful as they “exercise” our neuropathways, or the “wiring” within our nervous system so that information flows freely to and from our brain, spinal cord, and our various body parts. These help us function safer and better in ALL of our desired daily activities! Your doctor of chiropractic can train you in these exercises if you feel uncomfortable doing them on your own.