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5 quick tips to reduce injury during a car accident

This article will provide you with simple tips to reduce your chances of being injured during a car accident (especially rear end collisions).

1.  Always have your headrest properly adjusted. Ideally the top of your headrest should be level with the top of your head.

If your headrest is too low, your head will extend above and over the restraint, which then acts as fulcrum and increases your injury risk. When you are struck from behind, a 1-3 inch vertical rise in your head will occur. This can further bring your head up and over the headrest aggravating your neck.  Make sure the adjustable headrest is locked into position. When the head snaps back, it could make contact with the top of the headrest and may drive it down like a hammer drives a nail.  Unfortunately, headrests are designed for the 50% male (5’10”) population. Taller individuals should still adjust the headrest into the highest position.

2.  Keep the back of your head as close to the headrest as possible.

“Backset” is the distance from the back of your head to the front of the headrest. A starting backset greater than 2 inches decreases the ability of the head restraint to protect against neck injury. Studies have found that neck symptoms increased when the backset distance was more that 4 inches. Read more

To brace or not to brace for impact?

Now that you understand 5 quick tips to reduce injury during a car accident, what do you do if you look in your review mirror and you see another vehicle clearly not planning on stopping?  Should you brace for impact, tensing all of your muscles, or should you try to be as relaxed as possible?  Research shows that people who are aware of an impending collision and have time to brace for impact have better long-term outcomes and less injury.  So you should always brace for impact.  You have a lot of muscles in your neck that can protect the ligaments, discs, and nerves in your neck.  If you relax your muscles the ligaments, discs, and nerves will have to take a much larger percentage of the force and can become damaged.  It is much easier for muscles to heal then nerves, discs, or ligaments.

To prepare for a rear-end collision:

1.Brace your head against the headrest.  This reduces the distance between your head and the front of your headrest. The closer your head is to the headrest the better.

2. Always look forward and NEVER lean forward.  If you have your head turned at impact this increases your chance of injury.

3. Push your foot on the brake pedal and push your back squarely against the seat back.

4. Tense up like someone is going to punch you in the back with a 4000-pound car.

If you are involved in a car accident, it is important to be evaluated as soon as possible. Once more serious injuries like fracture, dislocation, or disc herniations are ruled out, it is important to have your neck and back evaluated by a Chiropractor.  Early treatment can reduce your chances of experiencing pain later down the road.