Neck Kink

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I woke up yesterday with a super bad neck kink? I’ve sort of have had a neck issue for a long time now. Cycling forever makes for poor posture and most long time cyclist have on and off issues, but, this is different.

My neck issue started back in the late 90’s when I ran into a low hanging branch on a descent in a mountain bike race in Hawaii. It was the World Cup Finals and I was just cresting the top of a steep hill, which then descended into the “jungle”. Right then, a freak, isolated rain storm started and it was a deluge. I stayed on my bike, the two guys in front of me fell and slid down, something like out of the movie Romancing the Stone, where Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner slid down a muddy trail through the jungle. Anyway, I stayed upright, but about 30 meters down there was a tree branch, wrapped in ribbon. I didn’t see it, even though I’d already done a few laps of the race, I guess I was more intent on staying upright. I hit the branch head-on, helmet first, and just stopped, wedged upright. I felt my neck compress and crunch, I swore I broke it.

When I finished, I couldn’t move it. It got better after a few days, but has never been the same. I went to a Neurologist after a few months and he did a MRI and said it was good, no structural damage, but it didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel right.

Anyway, now the symptoms are that after riding for a long time, 4 hours plus, I get a shooting pain up the left side of my neck. I can reach back there and there is a tendon or something, that moves under my finger like a guitar string. It is attached to a vertebrae. I can usually alleviate the sharp pain by just digging my finger in there real deep and pushing on it. But, it comes back after a few minutes.

But, yesterday was different. I’m not sure if I slept on it wrong or what. It didn’t feel bad at all when I woke up, but mid morning, I couldn’t move my neck. It is so sore I can’t look at all to the left. I’m scared to even try, the pain is so sharp and severe.

I’m thinking it has something to do with my shoulders. Before I broke my hip a couple months ago, I had the neck thing pretty much under control. I was doing a lot of shoulder stretching and chest stretching, trying to not be so hunched over. It was working. I was riding 6 hour rides with no pain what so ever. But, that was then.

I rode to Vail yesterday and it pretty much hurt the whole time. I took a bunch of ibuprofen last night and this morning, but it doesn’t seem to help. Plus, my stomach hates that stuff. I guess I’ll just wait and see if it gets better. It makes riding pretty not enjoyable.

It’s supposed to rain here in the next two hours, and there is nothing like getting stuck in a cold, mountain storm to stiffen it up even more, so I’d better get going. If anyone out there has any do-it-yourself, fix-it solutions for this, let me know.


18 thoughts on “Neck Kink

  1. JW

    I feel your pain. If you took ibuprofen and nothing happened, then you may have something pressing on a nerve. Chiropractic therapy worked for me.

  2. vtguy

    Agreed about the chiropractic. I have a standing appt. with my chiropractor and that, along with lots of stretching keeps me out of trouble…mostly.

  3. ksb

    Go see a doc and get a script for PT. They’ll fix you up. Sounds similar to some jammed facet joints I had earlier this year.

  4. tclaynm

    Hey Steve, that does sound familiar. Lots of high school football, ski, and cycling injuries have contributed to my neck and lower back issues as well. The chiropractic stuff is good, as is a very good massage therapist who can soften up those guitar string tendons/ligaments to keep the trigger points and banding from developing. It’s a long process. PT is good too, as you tend to get imbalances and there are all these other muscles that are helping contribute to the issue as well. PT can help with the posture and overall alignment. Finally, I have the gravity boots and doing some 2 minute inversion sessions just before bed time can REALLY help with that stuff. It’s just amazing. I’ll have those neck things, do the inversion one night, and the next morning it’ll feel tons better. Oh yeah, believe it or not, icing it when it gets like that can really help too. It’s actually probably inflamed pretty badly.

  5. Wildcat

    A good massage therapist is where it’s at. Ask around first and find a good one. Spend the money.

  6. Joe

    I have the same thing, injured differently and on the right side. kinks up every year or so. A sneeze or sleeping weird always brings it on. Anyway, I went to the world famous Mayo clinic when I was living up there and because I had free Mayo Clinic insurance. They gave me Valium. It was a low dose but I took a couple or three a day for a couple of days and I would be healed. Turns out Valium is a great muscle relaxer. It’s hard to get a script for it but I always tell the urgent care people I just want 6 or 8 and I’ll be healed. I can usually get it that way. Also buy lot’s of it in Mexico if you get down there and keep it around for this.

  7. Ted L

    That sucks about your neck. I had something similar happen to me once when I was 18 or so. I woke up one morning and looked to the right at the alarm clock and my neck cracked. It stiffened up almost immediately and I couldn’t look to the left at all, but I could look to the right just fine. I went and saw a PT and they gave me massage and ultrasound, but told me mainly that it would just take some time because I traumatized a joint in my neck. I got a little more range of motion every day and after a week or 10 days I was back to normal. I’ve never been to a chiropractor, so I can’t say whether it would help or not.

  8. James

    I have a very similar issue as yours. I have great success with ART/deep tissue massage. That combined with some aggressive mobility work keeps me relatively pain free.

  9. MV

    Apart from the professional services ;
    Now the pain is acute I would let it first heal/ clear , up by rest / ibuprofen / heat /cold etc.
    Personally I like the thoracic mobilization (hanging off the side of the bed) and strengthening exercises , cervical traction set up and trial can be performed at home cheaply too.

  10. kip stockton

    Chiropracty is fantastic .Was like magic for me . First visit and I was riding pain free .I have bone spurs in upper back . Ice before and after rides . Upper body work out as well , strengthen the body structure .Dips behind the neck pull downs , rows , butterflies . and reverse sit ups . Its a life long thing now itll never be perfect again . Good luck

  11. Jim D.

    I have pain and nerve issues in my back, neck, shoulder area. Started in June. Did a lot of different things. First get a soft foam roller long enough that you can lie on it centered on your back with your head supported. Opens tightened areas. Then get a massage. A 1/2 hour massage worked best for me. If that doesn’t do it. PT can ease pain and spasm with working on trigger points and mine did some dry needling. These 3 things helped me the most. Jim

  12. Kev

    If you have a rope-like muscle, search “Trigger Points” and scalene.

    Be aware that while the pain might be felt in the neck, that might not be the source; it could be coming from a knotted muscle in the upper back.

  13. Kim CHANCE

    I broke my neck ok April 08. Have had stiffness and discomfort ever since. I see a massage therapist every other week. I also use an essential oil called valor on my neck at night.
    Stretching and massage seen to be the best therapy.

  14. gj

    Takes time and effort, and ideally a spouse, but the ideas in here are the only thing between me and not being able to get out of bed…

    And if you are around Vail you might know Dr Corenman… believe his resume includes auto mechanics, chiropractics, and spinal orthopaedics. Has a great website, too.

    Meanwhile, please get a recumbent and post your results for my enjoyment… best regards

  15. Joel

    Steve, I cycle quite a bit and get some neck pain. I found mine was aggravated by how I slept. I used to sleep on my stomach a lot and sort of contort my neck around my really old flat pillow. Ouch. I recently bought a really thick ‘side sleepers’ pillow. It sort of forces you to sleep on your side since its so thick it’s uncomfortable to lay on it any other way. Problem solved for me. I sleep better too I think. Joel.


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