Exercising For A Pain in the Neck

My Snorkel and Me

It's not a new problem to me, but it seem to ramp up this year. Pain in the neck. (No, not "I am a pain in the neck," though at times my husband may have a different opinion.) I have pain in my neck. Who knew that stress, a lifetime of holding my neck too upright (I thought it was good posture!) tight muscles, and getting older could actually end up causing a couple of discs to misbehave? And it turns out some of the same culprits seem to be connected to my headache challenges...

After the worst of the pain, nine weeks were dedicated to calming and loosening the tight muscles with myofascial release by my wonderful physical therapist. Light exercises were slowly added and increased, but walking was the only other approved exercise for me at at that point. Eventually, I had the approval for swimming, but back stroke only. That was good, but certainly not the only stroke I wanted to use in the pool.

I kept thinking and trying to figure out a way to use a snorkel without the typical big, bulky face mask. I eventually started searching for snorkels online and came across the Finis snorkel. Yes! The lap swimming snorkel was already invented! The snorkel itself is attached to a split strap that wraps around the head, just like swim goggles. The snorkel is centered on the face instead of to the side. One positive user review actually mentioned having severe neck pain. Sold! (I featured it on the "Great Stuff" wheel at the left of the page.)

It took just a few minutes to get used to the new head gear and breathing continually through the snorkel instead of turning my head to the side. As I did lap after lap, I found myself relaxing my neck and immersing myself into the rhythm of my strokes and gliding through the cool water. Absolutely perfect. Maybe it's the Pieces in me, or that my high school sports were swimming and synchronized swimming. Heck, I was even a lifeguard and swimming instructor (see a theme here?) But, I feel a peaceful connection with the water.

On my road trip, I missed it so much that I bought a one-day pass at a local gym in order to swam laps. The ladies in the water aeorbics class were so entertained that they grabbed me in the locker room and wanted to know all about my unique snorkle. I think one gal was ready to buy one that day. And, the aches in my back from driving so much were totally gone afterward.

Last summer, I discovered running was out of my life. Early this year, I couldn't even walk without pain. And now, not only can I walk for exercise again, but I can actually swim without stressing my arthritic neck.

When life hits you with tough setbacks, don't give up and meld into a couch potato. The trick is to figure what you are able to do at that point, then work to improve from there. Then, keep on keeping on.