I broke my neck 5 days before my last MMA fight. I fractured a vertebrae. The Dr. said that I was very lucky the vertebrae didn’t slide in to my spinal cord. Before that I had herniated vertebra, with narrowing of the nerves. Ect… I ended up having a 3 level neck fusion in 2012. 3 years after the incident. I still train and occasionally compete in 2023.
I didn’t do rehab. I didn’t use painkillers. I waited 5.5 months after the surgery to train again. I started slow. It sucked and was terrible. It isn’t about being a beast. I lifted to strengthen everything. I don’t do squats with the bar on my neck. Because if I do I can’t walk normally or really function for the next 4 days. Same with dead lifts.
Other than that I lift normally like I use to. The fusion area will never be a problem again. The vertebra above and below the fusion are at risk. I have multiple disk in my lower back that are herniated ect… but I can train normally and compete. For years after the surgery I didn’t feel right. I finally had my testosterone levels tested. I was really low. I did some research because I tested at the end of my career before the neck injury and had very high levels then.
Turns out having a neck fusion can wreck your levels. I ended up going on TRT almost 2 years ago now. Had I done this in 2012 I could have stayed competing in MMA. Huge difference from me taking my levels back up to just the levels they were when I was 35 years old. If you have not had your levels tested I would after having that surgery.
As far as training you have a choice. You can sit down in a chair get comfortable and wait to get old. Or you can get up and train. Fight becoming old. Fight to improve.
When I came back from the surgery I had a few guys that wouldn’t grab my head. I stopped them mid roll explained it is my responsibility to tap. But if you don’t grab my neck and try to hurt me I will not train with you again. It is my responsibility to tap. You are doing a disservice to me if you are not trying to kill me. We shock hands and we continued to train.
I protect my neck. I spar, box and wrestle plus do Jiu-Jitsu. I am not as fast as I once was. I am not as explosive as I once was. At 50 I get injured more often and can’t train as many days a week as I use to.
A doctors job is there to scare us. Or they think it is. (In my opinion) I had a Dr explain to me I would need a knee replacement in 15 years if I didn’t get my ACL fixed. I tore my ACL in 2003. That is my good knee by far now. And I never had the ACL fixed. The other knee still has the ACL but gives me way more problems. I am not saying I will never have a knee replacement but not today
As far as neck pain. My neck hurts every day. I have limited mobility. But it hurts if I train or if I don’t. If I was to stop training. It wouldn’t hurt as often. But in 10 years it would be worse and so would the rest of my body. I am in far better shape then most 50 year olds. Why because I train. Because I live the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.
Conclusion: Life is pain. Pain reminds us we are still alive. It would be nice to be 25 years oldand not have pain. But that is not reality. Reality is if I trained with 25 year old me I would kill him.
Now 34 year old me. I would do ok in the GI but in MMA he is going to beat me. But that 25 year old would get his ass kicked. And the 34 year old me would not enjoy the experience.
This is the goal to be as active as possible as long as possible. I don’t think injuries should stop me from chasing being better and improving. If I stop training today a year from now I would not be in near as good of shape. And I am sure my neck and shoulders would still hurt. I choose to push forward fighting Father Time!! You should also!