Towards the beginning of December I woke up at my normal time of 5am to get to swim practice. After changing into my bathing suit, I decided to “throw my hair up into a ponytail”. BIG MISTAKE! I felt an extremely sharp pain go down the right side of my neck and for the next day I could not move my neck even slightly without the intense pain. We’re talking neck probably should have been in a collar type of pain.
Needless to say I missed that swim practice (along with a whole week and a half of training unfortunately) as a result. I actually debated going to the ER since I’ve never had this kind of pain ever before and having it in my neck was incredibly scary. I decided to forgo the high cost of an ER visit and wait until my PCP opened. Keith then had the fun task of taking me to the doctor’s. This involved a ½ hour car ride of me holding my head and neck in a certain position and hoping Keith didn’t hit any potholes or make any sudden movements. The Nurse Practitioner determined I had a strained neck and a spasm in my right upper trap. This was definitely not the way I wanted my training to go.
After some prescription strength pain pills and muscle relaxers, my neck felt a tiny bit better the next day. Finally after about a week or two, I was in less pain but still having some problems rotating my neck.
I thought my neck problem was a freak / lame incident that would heal itself. NO LUCK! Since then my neck has gotten tight and has several knots. After driving for a while, it gets really sore. To top it off, my right shoulder blade area started to feel “crunchy” when I try to perform my swim stroke and other movements. I even had some trouble sleeping due to the pain / stiffness / overall discomfort.
I've been having PT on this once a week, performing my I’s, T’s, and Y’s along with other exercises to try to loosen up these knots. After about 2 months of treatment, I’m starting to finally feel like my neck and shoulder is getting better. It’s still not 100% and I still get stiffness in my neck when I’m in the car too long but it’s come a long way since the end of December. This only helps solidify my career goal of being a physical therapist. Physical therapy has helped not only my neck area but also my knee last year!
The only plus to this incident is that it’s ironically made my swim stroke better since I’m constantly trying to keep my neck and upper shoulder area more relaxed. My head faces down towards the bottom of the pool now and I definitely feel more streamline. There’s my glass half full!
I’ve been trying to come up with a better story than putting my hair up but I’ve decided to stick to the truth so everyone knows about the hidden dangers of ponytails!
“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~Oscar Wilde