Typical Trajectory for Recovering From an Accident

Before the Accident:

Most people who are injured in an accident were not in perfect shape before the accident.

Chances are you have a job where you have to sit at a computer all day and don’t get up to stretch and move that often. You could probably improve your diet. You may or may not have an exercise routine, but you most likely do consider yourself very busy and often stressed out.

If this is not the case for you, congratulations! Your injuries are likely to be less severe than others and even if they are more severe you will likely heal much quicker.

For the rest of us, chronic bad habits have been building up in our bodies and an accident is just the tipping point that pushes that occasional achy neck and back to now be causing us a lot of pain and discomfort. The accident is what gets our attention.

The good news is that your body now has your attention. This is an opportunity to develop new habits that will not only get you through your recovery, but could very well lengthen and improve the quality of your life.


Each person’s treatment plan will be unique to their particular circumstances. As I have been working with people recovering from accidents I have noticed a pattern that emerges with nearly everyone, regardless of the severity of the injuries, although each phase may be longer or shorter from person to person.

At some point you will notice improvement. For some people this happens after just a few weeks of treatment, for others it may take longer, but you will get to a point where you really are feeling much better. You’ll feel relief from the pain you had been experiencing. You will have greater range of movement. This improvement will encourage you and you will feel very optimistic and maybe have more energy.

You may think, well that was great. I feel much better now. I am better now. I can resume my life now.

And here is where I caution you… Give yourself more time to rest and recover. What often happens is people jump right back into those old habits and busy (maybe too busy) routines. They push themselves too much too soon and then…

Suddenly they feel much worse!

Then comes frustration, discouragement, maybe even a touch of hopelessness. But do not despair. This is normal. Allow yourself more rest. Continue with your treatments and any self care exercises you have been doing. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to be where you are.

Because what I have noticed is that usually not too long after you seem to hit that wall… it comes down. You begin to feel better, but different than last time… really better, maybe even better than you felt before the accident.

After Treatment:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, your accident can be an opportunity for you. Maybe it is cliché but it is true that often something that looks terrible at first is really clearing the way for something new and better to come into your life. During your treatment your health care providers will hopefully give you many new tools for taking care of your body. Rather than looking at these as something else you have to do, I hope you will embrace them as new ways to treat your body that allow you to feel better, to have more energy, to move through life with grace and ease. You might want to turn it into a daily ritual of caring for yourself. Instead of thinking, “I have to do my stretches and exercises” rephrase that to say, “I love the way I feel after I do these things for my body.”

I hope even after you are done with your treatment that you have made some new habits and continue to make yourself and your body a priority in your life.