I recently was diagnosed with slight wear on two of my cervical vertebrae.
My only way to account for this damage has been 17 years of aikido, as I have not suffered any other traumatic insults to my neck.
Most of the time I have practiced aikido I have been technically obese (~33% body fat), putting me at about 246#. Coupled with my height, 6'1", I have to wonder if I was at particular risk for injury. None of my fellow aikidoka who have practiced as much have reported any issues. (Nota bene: none of them are obese.)
We have practiced on standard 2" blue mats, with no other shock absorbing elements.
And so I am bringing this issue to the table: Ought obese students be allowed to practice given the elevated risk of serious injury? I think this ought to be considered, especially in regards to break falls.
Mr. Ross, I recognize the risk you are taking with being so open with your health issues. I commend you.
Where you diagnosed by a physician with Cervical Spondylosis? Cervical degeneration isn't associated with weight. It is associated with age primarily. Arthritis, genetics and jobs with lots of neck movement are also is a factor of CS, but not weight, I would think. The cervical spine doesn't carry the bulk weight of the body's mass, such as the rest of the spine. A damaged disk in the lumbar spine is more likely due to weight. The knees are what really carries the bulk of the body's weight and suffers most for it when a person is obese. Weight may not be a top culprit with CS. Heart attack diabetes, blood pressure, thoracic and lumbar spine problems, joint problems, are but a few more serious things to worry about at 33% body fat .
As far as Aikido goes it seems to me, neck movement and age would be the primary areas of concerns if it isn't genetic deterioration. It would be interesting to know the areas of degeneration of and wear patterns on the vertebra, assuming the disk is depleted to a degree. Is the wear at the anterior or posterior part of the vertebra. Or it is some what evenly worn, or is there just bi- lateral wear. Include the condition of the disks, and if there are bone spurs. To identify if circular rotation of the head is a cause, or the head's frequent repetition of the head moving back and forth. The results would to indicate if Aikido played a role in CS, or other factors, or combined.
Warm -ups might be considered over ukemi as the cause. I use to do a neck warm ups by circling my head clock and counter clockwise and then rotating it side to side, and back and forth. Done 4 times a weak or more over the years could be mostly at fault for the wear and tear. I stopped that when I was told by my Chiropractor to do it another way that wasn't harmful. I have seen some people to stretch their neck pull down upon their head passing the natural flexion range of the neck. That isn't good on the neck disks when done habitually.
I know in the medical profession they started the anti-obese movement, it has been turning into a craze where fat is to blame for everything that is taking it over board. It is then natural to think weight has something do with increasing risk of injury on and off the mat. OTOH, I would hate to make an assumption and be wrong for it when fat wasn't the culprit. Don't over-look other things, like genetics, and other activities that can be the cause. Obesity is an issue, agreed. It does limit your actives and abilities, and puts you at risk for injury. There is nothing better than getting the proper knowledge. You don that by talking throughly and working with a doctor/specialist in this condition. You eliminate your assumptions. Losing the extra weight is an important and good health practice. Being at 33% body fat is something of a health concern, it puts you at risk for other more serious health conditions than slightly worn neck vertebra, and the cause has to be considered it may not be taking falls.
I wish you the best of health and longevity. Losing weight is a struggle, and takes effort and will power beyond assumptions. Once it is off, you will feel so much better, and less concerned about the risks of being over weight.