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- 14 April 2015 -
Testimonial from Aaron Deere, Resistance and Conditioning Personal Trainer

As I compete in a combat sport I anticipate a higher injury rate than other sports, but with my 10+ years experience in strength and conditioning, I was confident in my ability to rehabilitate myself from any injury that may occur.

At the beginning of 2014 I began to develop ongoing neck pain, brought on by elements of the BJJ training I was involved in. After I was unable to rehabilitate the issue myself I turned to a 'traditional' physio who prescribed isolated neck strengthening exercises. This did little to reduce the effects of the problem, so I then to turned to a chiropractor who focused on adjustments of the spine and rib cage. I experienced short term relief from the issue through this form of treatment, but the problem would reoccur at regular intervals. In the last 3 months of 2014 the issues seemed to be compounding, and despite weekly adjustment, I was unable to go more than a few days without elements of BJJ training causing acute pain in my neck. In November 2014 I experienced a suspected brachial-plexus impingement, leaving me basically unable to use my right arm or rotate my head. A series of chiropractic adjustments over a 7 day period allowed me to regain the movement in my arm and head, but I was still constantly experiencing referred pain down the right side of my neck and down through my right arm, which interfered with my training and my day to day activities. At this point I was referred to Rhys @ Physical Edge by a friend, who was also a BJJ competitor, and had experienced similar symptoms as I had for the past 12 months.

In my first session with Rhys I was expecting him to ask me to lie down on the bed and assess me through methods such as manual muscle testing, but instead he used movement based tests so he could see how my body actually moved through different planes. He was immediately able to identify the dysfunction happening with the right side of my neck, upper back and right shoulder. Instead of manipulations, Rhys prescribed me a group of 5 exercises that primarily involved rotations side flexion and arm extension movements and I was asked to do them 2-3 times per day. I was skeptical how seemingly simple movements could have any effect on my severe cervical vertebrae problems. The positive effects of the movements were almost instantaneous. With in a week my general pain levels had dropped significantly and I had a much great range of movement when rotating my neck. My upper back muscles were also in a constant hypertonic state and this seemed to reduce greatly with the exercises. I returned to my BJJ training with caution, but the increased range of movement of my neck and the ability of my spine to now rotate segmentally has contributed to me not sustaining my usually neck injury, which was happening on a weekly basis.

My neck is not yet at 100%, as it still has muscle soreness and tightness, tightness through my upper back and referred nerve symptoms (such as twitching and pins and needles) in my right hand, but it is a huge improvement on where it was 4 weeks prior and I am now able to carry out my day to day activities relatively pain free.

After approximately 5 weeks of completing the movements, Rhys called me back in for a reassessment. My problem had greatly improved but I was still experiencing muscle soreness and tightness in my neck, tightness through my upper back and referred nerve symptoms (such as twitching and pins and needles) in my right hand. Rhys looked at how my neck, back and shoulder were now moving and prescribed a new group of additional exercises to complement the exercises I was already doing.

These exercises were focusing more specifically on increasing the intensity of the dynamic stretches in relation to my neck, with some of them adding resistance to the movements. The new movements were challenging but again I saw immediate effects on the neck muscles I was feeling soreness and tightness in. To complement Rhys's exercises I also received weekly dry needling and massage treatments.

After approximately 4 weeks following the new protocol my neck is now feeling better than it had any time in the last 12 months. The muscle soreness in my neck and upper back is virtually gone, with only a very small amount of referred nerve pain remaining in my my right arm.

The biggest test of the health of my neck came in a training session a week ago. It was a full session on training chokes. Previously I would not have lasted more than 10 mins of these sessions before my cervical vertebrae would 'slip' and I would have to sit out of the rest of the session and make a trip to the chiropractor to resolve the issue. I went through the whole session without an issue and was completely fine the next day.

I have been following Rhys's treatment protocols for a little more than 2 months now. My issue is not completely resolved, but I have been blown away by the improvement in my neck related symptoms. I have not missed one training session due to injury in this period, when previously I was barely able to make it through a week of training with out re-injuring my neck. It has also greatly improved my quality of life as each time I sustained a re-injury to my neck it would leave me having to take pain killers and cause me difficulty in going about my daily activities.