Massage for Auto Accidents
In June, 2017 I watched the world spin out of control when the brakes on the rental car I was driving to school froze up, and I careened into the barrier between I-84 and the Max train tracks. I was shaken and shaking, grateful to be alive and terrified at now being parked in the shoulder in a banged-up car, and aware of creeping tight sensations in my lower back and neck. I was blessed to get out of that situation still able to walk and without signs of concussion, and I even made it my second class that afternoon. But by that night everything from my sacrum to the base of my skull was frozen and intensely painful, and the whiplash sustained from that car crash launched me into a months-long journey of healing.
I am so grateful for the support I received from many people; from my friend William who met me at the Urgent Care center and gave me a bit holding that night so I could sleep; to my energyworker friends who helped me unwind my nervous system and transform the trauma so I could be in a vehicle again without tensing uncontrollably and re-triggering the injuries; to the chiropractors and massage therapists that helped re-align my spine and release the spasming muscles, trigger points, movement limitations, and other effects of the impact of spinning into a wall at high speed.
If I would have needed to pay for all the care I received out-of-pocket, I would not have been able to afford many sessions. I certainly would not have gone in for the twice-weekly massages that were a game-changer those first couple months after the accident, and I probably would not have learned about the scoliosis that was revealed in the x-ray my chiropractor ordered. Receiving that care in a way that allowed my practitioners to be paid for their work was made possible by the personal injury protection (PIP) insurance the rental car company was required to have by Oregon law.
It has been just over a year since that collision, and while I still notice a tendency to spasm in a few places I have recovered nearly all my range of motion, I can do most of the physical activities I enjoy, including giving bodywork, within reason, and I understand so much more about my body and the healing process.
While I would not have wished for this experience, I am grateful for the insight it has given me on what happens to the body after whiplash, and how to support other people going through this journey. The schooling in deep tissue massage, myofascial massage and trigger point release all laid a great foundation for this work, and I continue to study different forms of bodywork to facilitate the kind of healing I was able to receive. And I set up my practice to be able to accept PIP insurance so that other people can see me regularly to support their return to greater health and mobility, regardless of personal ability to pay.
I envision a world where we do not need to move quite so fast, where our modes of transportation are not so dangerous to our primary vessels - our bodies. But while we continue to drive and auto collisions continue to be so common, I am grateful to have the skill and means to help.
photo by Zohre Nemati