It’s early August 2008 and I just hobbled out of a Marine F/A-18 Hornet, having landed at the Miramar Air Station in San Diego following my third dogfighting training hop that week. My back hurts. My arms hurt. My neck hurts. Everything hurts, but especially my neck.
The plane captain asks about my flight and as I turn my head to answer, a lightning bolt shoots down my neck making me see stars. My hand instinctively grabs the back of my neck, “Jeez that hurts!”
I don’t remember what I say to the PC. It’s my 14th year flying fighters and I’m not very old by most standards, only 38, but I feel 78. Flying—and fighting—high performance fighter jets is physically demanding, and I love it, but it’s getting more difficult every day.
Days later I discover Monty.
Monty Thompson also leads a physically demanding life: he played football at The Ohio State University, rides mountain bikes and surfs. Monty also suffered chronic neck pain and eventually endured neck surgery which laid him up for a spell. But wanting to get back to his normal routine and the activities he loved, Monty was determined to overcome his neck issues. His efforts led to the development of a simple device to strengthen and stretch his neck muscles like no other exercise equipment can.
I’m a skeptic, like most fighter pilots, but Monty swears by it and sends me a prototype. I try it out and quickly become a believer. The light bulb goes off and NECK X® is born.
Before going any further, you might wonder what it’s like to fly high performance military aircraft and why so many pilots suffer pain or injuries from a career of it.
In simple terms, dogfighting is like simultaneously being punched by Mike Tyson, tackled by Ray Lewis, and sat on by an elephant while trying to solve a three-dimensional mental puzzle. It’s hard to breathe, hard to think, and the G forces are crushing. The next morning you awake with Mike, Ray, and the elephant all smiling over you.
Some aircraft can pull more Gravitational Force. The pull of earth’s gravity that people and objects experience as “one G” in an unaccelerated state or “zero G” when falling. than the F/A-18, but it does pretty well at 7.5 and it is common to reach that repeatedly on a single training sortie. At 7.5 times the force of gravity a pilot who weighs 200 pounds now experiences 1,500 pounds. A pilot’s head, which can weigh 10 pounds plus 5 more with the helmet, now feels like over 100 pounds. No wonder we all hurt.
Surveys show the proportion of actively flying fighter pilots who suffer flight-related neck injury ranges from 30% during the preceding month, to 50% during the preceding three months, to almost 90% over the course of the pilot’s career.[i] This isn’t just a health issue, but a tactical issue as well. One study found 85% of fighter pilots report utilizing more conservative aerial tactics due to neck pain.[ii] The neck is designed to hold 10 pounds, not 100 pounds, and yet as fighter pilots we subject ourselves to such strain daily.
When Monty introduced me to his invention, I had just suffered two episodes of my neck locking up. I couldn’t look right or up, it was crippling. In each instance I spent three weeks off the flight schedule rehabbing my neck, only to have the issues reappear once I returned to flying.
NECK X changed all that.
As I began to regularly use NECK X, I discovered that not only was my neck stronger but I had increased range of motion. Neck pain was greatly reduced and gradually eliminated. I could look everywhere during high G flights. At home I no longer had to tell my 10-year-old son to watch out for my neck when we wrestled. NECK X had changed my professional and personal life by improving the four pillars of cervical health: neck strength, flexibility, range of motion, and endurance.
I’m not a trend follower. By nature, I’m a skeptical person. And as a fighter pilot, I have to see results to believe almost anything. NECK X works. It works so well that the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and air forces of Australia, Canada, and Italy all use it. Colleges and universities, high school football teams, Olympic athletes, and physical therapists also use it. NATO highlighted NECK X in a technical report published by their Science and Technology Organization and scientific studies are proving it’s efficacy. It’s a simple device that can do complex things.
I spent 21 consecutive years flying fighters for the U.S. Marine Corps; I was fortunate to stay in the cockpit the entire time. I was blessed and fortunate to do so. But in some respects, I’m luckier still to have met Monty so I can spend the next 21 years—and beyond—free from neck pain.
If you want to omit “Jeez that hurts” from your vocabulary, check out NECK X. Like me, you’ll be surprised what it can do for you.
[i] Mark R. Coakwell, Donald S. Bloswick, and Royce Moser, Jr., “High-Risk Head and Neck Movements at High G and Interventions to Reduce Associated Neck Injury,” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 75, No. 1, January 2004, 68-80, https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/asma/asem/2004/00000075/00000001/art00011.
[ii] Anderson B., Lindsey M. Evaluation and treatment of neck and back pain in the high-performance aviator. Abstract presentation. F-35 Aeromedical Community of Interest, semi-annual meeting; Denver, Colorado. April 2016.