Duke, how are ya -
In 2001 I was doing behind the-neck wide-grips pullups after no training for a long period, and without a trainer. I was straining my neck as you do, just like pulling your head forward in the old-style situps. I injured a disc at C5-C6. I also had a posterior cervical bone spur which had already developed from earlier trauma.
I ached and couldn't sleep for 2 weeks, with the exception of a single position for fitful nights. Add to this the fact that I went to a Chiropractor to save money. He made it worse in his routine promotion to get me in for "regular adjustments", while dismissing my specifics and yanking my neck around. I use another man now, who trains with us and who really knows Palmer Chiropractic.
Anyhow, I finally cornered him and asked him if he could or could not rule on a soft tissue injury possibility like mine, and he admitted that he could not. So I said goodbye and got an orthopedic surgeon to fast-track me into the MRI room, which told a more complete story.
One C5-C6 discectomy and fusion later, I was as good as new, less some residual neuropathy regarding the right radial nerve, which primarily serves the top of the arm including the thumb and index finger. I believe that it was a matter of damage from either/or the bulged disc (or a piece of it floating around) the bone spur, and/or the prolonged swelling during the first two weeks of the insult.
I forgot to mention that the swelling was reversed at about week 2 by a Radiologist friend who injected a corticosteroid near the nerve root, with the aid of active xray Fluoroscopy. That was really cool. In past years they guessed, and used a shotgun approach of 3 shots in order to get close enough. Ya just cant beat technology in the right doctor's hands.
Point 1: If you have a neck injury, given that cervical vertebrae are so small and delicate, get the right specialist to use appropriate testing ASAP. Time can be essential in preventing further damage. 6 years later I continue to have trouble from cross-sectional nerve root damage, which probably cannot improve.
It is not debilitating, but I can tell, although other people don't notice anything except a chronic twitch in the top muscle of the forearm.
Point 2: A good trainer, or even a pretty good one, is essntial. I have 4 injuries that could have been avoided, if I had had early training, even obsolete and superceded methods from years ago. Forget the money - it is nothing compared to the alternatives. Smart people learn from their mistakes. Really smart people learn from other peoples mistakes.
I think that there is a wealth of information on this particular website, plus tons of inspiration, whether you can afford a trainer or not.
P.S. Remember that connective tissue grows at a significantly slower rate than muscle. So when you get pumped and you're rockin' and lovin' this game, watch out for connective tissue injury, which will put you out of the game for up to 6 months, and you lose ALL of the gains. Rule 1: Don't get hurt. Rule 2: Perfect form. Rule 3: Good lighting is very important
Come on by the Roanoke Athletic Club someday and we'll have a yarn, hey?