A huge fear and source of frustration for any professional athlete is getting injured. If you’re out for a season it’s tough, but for serious, potentially career-ending injuries, the road to recovery is an uncertain and long road.
Our ambassador Ryan Terry is no stranger to injury, having suffered several in his 20-year career. That’s why he was the perfect person for Ryan Crowley to go to for advice. A young bodybuilder at the start of his career who suffered an excruciating injury when his pectoral muscle detached during a bench press, Crowley is still recovering seven months on. And the mental challenges have been just as prominent as the physical.
‘It’s been a really long road’
Describing his injury, Crowley explained to Ryan the time and effort it’s taken to recover.
“Seven months ago, I was incline bench pressing and I completely ruptured my pec off the bone, the whole thing exploded. They had to literally sew it back together and make like a stump and then they had to make a fake tendon and drill it back into my humerus. The whole thing was exploded like pretty much never seen anything like it before.
It’s been a really long road since. I was training with my left arm while I was still in a sling trying to get the blood flowing and get better and better but we’re now seven months on.”
‘It’s really messed up my head’
At just 24, Crowley has achieved a huge amount as an amateur in the bodybuilding world. And after being so close to his pro card, having it seemingly snatched away has taken its mental toll.
“It’s really messed up my head like, maybe I won’t be able to get to the top of bodybuilding like I really truly believed before. There aren’t many people that are 6ft 3 with as much muscle as me, especially so young. I did really believe that, I know I don’t have the prettiest physique, but that I could be up there at the top.”
‘I felt like Superman, and now I don’t’
Although he’s back training in the gym, Crowley’s injury still impacts his mental state during a session. Understandably, he’s put off entirely with any twinge that doesn’t feel quite right.
“Previously I felt unbreakable, like in a hack squat or anything I thought ‘I can move this as much as I can until it doesn’t move’, it’s simple right? But it’s not that simple. I feel vulnerable now to anything.
Even today, we were training legs and I felt a twinge in my knee and it really messed me up, I really struggled to carry on after that just because I was scared that something else was gonna pang you know? Because I was Superman, I felt like Superman, and now I don’t.”
‘It’s not necessarily the physical side coming back, it’s the mental side’
With 20 years of experience and his own share of injuries, Terry gave Crowley some valuable advice from his own injury rehab experience.
“I’ve had numerous injuries; I’ve been training 20 years so it’s inevitable. Especially when you have that bodybuilding mentality. You want to go all out as hard as you can every session. I always train super heavyweight bodybuilders so it was always that male-ego lifting type of training.
I’ve had two hip surgeries, slipped disc in my back, bulging disc in my neck. So I understand where he’s coming from with the negativity.
It’s not necessarily the physical side coming back, it’s the mental side, it’s trying to get your head right and not rush things, not put pressure on yourself.
I’ve had to go back to that mind to muscle connection and concentrate on each rep each exercise rather than just going mass weight.”
Ryan also documented his experience recovering from his second hip surgery…
Take home message
Injuries are part and parcel of an active lifestyle – especially for professionals. As Ryan Terry told Ryan Crowley, recovery is just as much about the mental as the physical — you have to attend to both, and exercise patience. If you are lifting heavy weights, remember to check your ego at the door and practice safe sets.