A whiplash injury is common after a car, bike or impact incident where your head stops suddenly in a acceleration - deacceleration injury.
The muscles in our body are designed to absorb force, when a muscle is rapidly stretched behind it's normal range with a whiplash type of injury, the stretch reflex in the muscles will cause a violent contraction to prevent the muscle from tearing and to absorb the force sent through the muscle. This process causes an instant strain to the muscle causing the formation of trigger points instantaneously that cause acute tenderness, fatigue, restriction of movement and pain when the involved muscles are activated.
The human head weighs approximately the same as an average bowling ball and the muscles of the neck have a big job to support the head in keeping you upright and then obviously providing the complexity of the head and necks movement. Whiplash injuries involve many of these muscles and can be extremely painful and debilitating. The muscles are the first line of defence in absorbing force, then the bodies joints and discs and lastly the bodies bones. The muscles contracting is the bodies way of protecting the deeper structures and the pain is to let you know they is a problem so that you can do something about it.
Within the first 48 hours after a Whiplash injury Ice can be very beneficial to control the amount of inflammation and pain to the affected area, wearing a support brace is sometimes necessary along with getting scans to determine if any structure has been damaged within the head or neck.
After the initial 48 hours have past and the all clear has been given from the results of any scans, it is best to get some light but specific treatment from a Clinical Myotherapist that is highly trained in dealing with this type of injury.