Duncan Rehabbing Hand Injury, Improving Core Strength

By: Keith Ryan Cartwright June 10, 2014@ 12:30:00 PM

Douglas Duncan is training hard this summer at Michael Johnson Performance. Photo by Keith Ryan Cartwright /

FORT WORTH, Texas ― Douglas Duncan was supposed to be getting ready for what would have been nearly a two-week long trip to Brazil.

Instead, the sixth-year veteran of the Built Ford Tough Series is recovering from a surgery to repair some torn ligaments in his left hand.

“I guess there was more going on with it than I thought,” Duncan recently said at the J.W. Hart PBR Challenge in Decatur, Texas.

Duncan said he’ll be recovered in time to compete in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when the BFTS resumes in mid-August.

However, he’ll miss the back-to-back events – Americana and Pilar do Sul – he was planning to compete in down in Brazil. Duncan had originally been asked by two-time World Champion Silvano Alves if he would be interested in competing at the event Alves is hosting the last weekend in June.

Having gone down last year, Duncan was looking forward to returning.

“I was the only American to go last year, but I had a blast,” Duncan said. “I mean, Guilherme (Marchi) and those guys are just as good as they are up here. They treat you very well down there. I don’t know how many more times you get the opportunity to go to a different country and ride bulls.”

A self-described “leader, not a follow,” Duncan didn’t mind being the only American there last year and was unaffected by the idea he would be the only one there again this year.

From a young age he’s always been self-aware and unaffected by what his peers may or may not be doing.

“I had very good parents,” he said, “so I credit a lot of that to my parents.”

Unfortunately, he’ll have to miss this chance to head back to South America.

The injury-prone rider from Alvin, Texas – the same hometown as baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan – will be working with trainers at Michael Johnson Performance to overcome yet another setback.

Thankfully this one is not nearly as bad as the hip injury he’s dealt with in recent years.

In fact, prior to competing on the BFTS, he was once on pace to win the 2009 PRCA title before he suffered a season-ending broken leg. Then came the aforementioned hip issue followed by a hand injury that has affected him since late last season and now the thumb.

“It’s frustrating, but I don’t like excuses,” Duncan said. “Every one of these guys deal with injuries, it’s just mine, unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with, but it’s part of being an athlete and part of being a bull rider.”

Daniel DeVega is a performance specialist at MJP and works with Duncan every time inside the McKinney, Texas, facility.

Daniel DeVega of Michael Johnson Performance talks about Douglas Duncan’s tranining regimen this summer.

“When Douglas walked in we could tell that his injury history was quite interesting,”DeVega said. “What we’ve done since then is we’ve strengthened his hip and we’ve strengthened his wrist and strengthened everything around it and made his core a lot stronger and his lower body stronger.”

DeVega said the idea is to take the pressure off Duncan’s hips, so that he can ride more efficiently.

Like always, the 27-year-old has maintained a “never quit attitude” as he works through his latest issue.

Duncan is doing all he can to prepare for the stretch run in hopes of repositioning himself in the Top 15 by season’s end. Currently he’s ranked 27th in the world standings.

Although the season hasn’t gone as planned, if ever he feels frustrated he thinks of his pal, James Ellis.

Duncan and Ellis had just turned 17 when Ellis was paralyzed in a bull riding accident. According to Duncan, Ellis regularly outrode Elliott Jacoby, Clayton Baethge and Duncan when the four of them were on the verge of turning pro.

“When I have a bad day, I think, I could be in that wheelchair,” said Duncan, who saw another of his buddy’s killed. “Injuries aren’t an excuse.”

He added, “I’ll train all summer and come back as healthy as I can.”

Duncan has been a regular at MJP.

He trains daily with DeVega and regularly consults with Lance Walker, who serves as the global performance director for MJP and reached out to the PBR after being introduced to the sport by Jose Ramos.

“They have so much knowledge as far as getting better and rehabbing,” Duncan said. “They definitely know their business, so I trust them and it’s helped me out a lot. I feel like I’ve got in way better shape the past few months.”

Duncan said he thrives in the atmosphere because he likes being around other professional athletes.

Douglas Duncan has been improving his hip strength at Michael Johnson Perofrmance. Photo by Keith Ryan Cartwright /

At MJP, he said it’s definitely time for business, but is a fun facility to train at.

In recent weeks, Duncan and other PBR riders – Pistol Robinson, Brant Atwood, Harve Stewart and Jarrod Craig – have been working out regularly alongside Jason Hatcher and other NFL and NBA players. MLS, Olympic athletes and several soccer teams competing in the World Cup have also been there as well as professional baseball players prior to the season starting.

“Those guys think it’s badass what we do,” Duncan said, “and it’s a pretty good environment to be in as far as being a professional athlete. They help us out a lot.”

DeVega has watched Duncan progress through the last few weeks leading up to the summer break.

“Douglas is a different rider,” said DeVega.

He compared Duncan’s effort at the Dr Pepper Iron Cowboy V in Arlington, Texas, to his one out in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In both cases, he bucked off. However, after two months of working at MJP he looked like a different rider with athletic mobility and more stability.

As unfortunate as his thumb injury might be, it allows them to focus on stabilizing his hip and continuing to strengthen his core muscles.

According to DeVega, it’ll be a summer spent fine tuning what they’ve been doing for the past few months.

DeVega said his goal for Duncan is Top 5 and winning every time he competes.

“He’s a great rider,” DeVega said.

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