Lucky are those who escape a seemingly innocent fender bender or bumper thumper without a whiplash.

Bonnie Prudden Back of head neck shouldersSimply defined, whiplash is the injury resulting from a sudden force causing the head to go forward and backward – usually following a rear impact – while in a stationary position. The sudden acceleration-deceleration force that causes UNRESTRAINED, rapid forward and backward movement of the head and neck leaves many with neck and upper back pain. However, whiplash can occur from something as mundane as hitting the curb with your bike wheel and not so mundane incidents such as babies who have been shaken, abuse victims, and sports injuries.

Whiplash – even those that go unrecorded because they appear to be mild – can manifest in any number of problems: headaches, TMJD or jaw pain, facial neuralgia, tic douloureux, Bell’s palsy, neck pain and stiffness, torticollis, difficulty swallowing, aching teeth, double vision, dizziness, stiff and aching arms, chest and Bonnie Prudden Upper back posterior viewupper back.

While we know about whiplashes because of car accidents, almost everyone snaps their neck at some time or another. When conventional healing is used, it may take forever to get better. Counter-irritants, which heat the area… traction, which stretches it… collars to hold the head in place… and analgesics… None of these gets at the cause: trigger points in the neck, head, face, chest, upper back and arms. If the sufferer already has a posture problem such as forward head or the now so prevalent text neck, so much the worse. The neck is already stressed and injured.

Back to the definition above and the key word which is UNRESTRAINED. Babies and kids will often bounce their heads back against the sofa or car seat repeatedly with no ill effects. This is a controlled back and forth. It is the uncontrolled or unrestrained back and forth that causes the damage.

Anything treated or repaired immediately has a better outcome, whether the leaky hose, faucet, or roof. So too with injury to the body. We’re all familiar with the “golden hour,” a term used in sports indicating that the best time to fix the problem is in the first hour after the injury. The longer a muscle injury is allowed to go untreated, the more time the muscles have to organize themselves into a new pattern of resistance resulting in pain and inflexibility often accompanied by swelling.

Whenever there is an injury, new trigger points form or old ones wake up. A trigger point, for our purpose here, is defined as an irritable spot in a muscle that got there when the muscle was injured in some way. Where whiplash is concerned, trigger points can be found in the following areas which need to be treated as soon as possible: back, front, sides of neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest; in other words, opposing and adjacent muscle groups. We are all hung together and each muscle group is intimately connected to and influenced by the ones nearby…kind of like nattering neighbors.

To treat whiplash, download and use the charts below as your guide. They are from the books Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, and Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living, both of which provide details on how to locate and treat the trigger points as well as the all-important corrective exercises, the key to remaining pain free.

Bonnie Prudden working on neck trigger pointsHere is the short version.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® is a partnership between the hurting person and the helping person. Therefore you need to go slowly and listen to the person you are helping. When treating the neck, use your finger or thumb to press slowly into the muscle. When treating the larger muscles you can use your elbow. If there is a trigger point there the person under your thumb or elbow will let you know because it will Bonnie Prudden working on shoulder trigger pointshurt. Don’t push any harder than a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. It is not necessary. Hold it for 7 seconds. Slide along the muscle to look for another one.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® is also a combination of locating and treating the trigger point and then reeducating the muscle with specific Corrective Exercise. Once you finish the task of hunting down and extinguishing the trigger points, they need to learn a new habit: to relax instead of tighten. Like children, muscles need to be reminded so the exercises should be done often throughout the day but only 4 reps at a time.

Download and use the charts and exercises below. For more detailed information, pick up a copy of Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living, or one of the DVDs available in our store.


If you have questions or need help, email me at

For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®