In this episode, we cover a simple strategy we use with our ACLers to help improve consistency, especially once that initial momentum and honeymoon phase slows down.
What is up team, and welcome back to another episode on the ACL Athlete Podcast. Today is episode 108. And first, before we dive into this specific episode, I wanted to just say thank you to everyone who has sent messages over the past week and entered the giveaway by doing a review or by sending us a message of the impact that podcast has had on them. So thank you all for doing that. Now, let’s dive into today’s episode: One Simple Strategy to Improve Consistency in your ACL Rehab. One of the big problems we have is that ACLers can often have a hard time completing their ACL rehab, or maybe you just fall off the tracks or fall off the wagon. It’s a very, very long process and it’s hard to stay at that high-intensity level of doing things day in and day out constantly.
And we know we always reference it as like a part-time or a full-time job when you’re doing your ACL rehab because it’s just this other area or this bucket you’re having to do along with, whether it’s school or work or family life or just trying to keep up with everything that there is with life. Then you have this whole thing that you have to deal with, which is your knee, and trying to get it better. And it can be a little easier when you’re first starting off with ACL, especially post-injury or post-surgery. Because you’re in this like newish honeymoon phase, so you’re like, let’s get after it. I’m ready for this process mentally. And hopefully, you’ve got a PT guiding you who’s helping you to carve out the roadmap. You’re feeling prepared, ready to take it on, ready to hit the exercises and get this schedule in place.
Typically, you’ve also adapted things a little bit more, especially post-surgery because you know you’re going to have some downtime, you know the schedule and your ability to maneuver, whether it’s work or school or things like that. You’re able to create a little bit more of a window to focus on you and the ACL rehab. And then what happens is, is that people will have those initial honeymoon phases or the fuzzies that wear off. And life can get in the way. So that’s going to be the school, the work, going maybe PT itself or some of the other priorities, and everything is pulling for your time.
Plus, let’s be honest, ACL rehab isn’t just something you wake up and say: “Ah, I’m just so excited to do rehab today, especially for my knee, and I’ve loved doing this for the past 3, 6, 9 months of doing this.” The further and further you get, sure, hopefully, you are moving towards the things you love to do and are able to do more. But no one ever wakes up and is like “Man, I just love doing this day in and day out.” And don’t get me wrong, there could be some excitement from the training and from some of the goals and milestones, being able to hit. But there are definitely days where it could be a drag. And all of you ACLers know this. You’re shaking your head, definitely.
And then there’s the other pieces like you’re working on, such as range of motion, especially like that flexion where you’re trying to sit back on your heels or the low load to get the extension back. And that’s the stuff where you’re like, all right, come on, let’s move this along. And some of that stuff can be a drag, and especially if you’re not seeing results. It’s one of those things where you’re trying to chip away and you’re trying to hopefully get to that goal of getting full range. Or maybe it’s to be able to improve your strength or from running or swelling or all the pieces in this process. And there’s a lot of ebbs and flows, whether it’s being further in the process or even sometimes feeling that burnout from it. And we can see this happen with some of our ACLers from time to time, especially depending on what they have going on in life.
We’ve got parents who have multiple kids who are in big roles within their jobs and they work a lot of hours. We’ve got students and athletes who are engaged in so many extracurricular activities. It’s always this dance of making sure that they can get in what they need to while also being able to do these things. And when we start to sense these things start to happen, such as maybe falling off track and not completing workouts or not showing up, or maybe they’re giving it not as much effort or intent and starting to feel this burnout feel, we start to ask why, and we try to make sure we get ahead of it. That’s one of the biggest things. And as we’ve worked with athletes over the years, that’s something that we have worked on tremendously to make sure that we have these rest weeks and these ways to disconnect and making sure we stacking up certain goals and wins and understanding the why behind the programming and the planning, all these things that will help to hopefully avoid this type of feeling. Then we’re also trying to give them practical strategies to understand expectations, but truly putting things in play.
Side note, you guys know the feeling when you’re saying a word with the letter P in it, you feel like you’re spitting. Feel like that’s happening right now? So if it’s happening, I apologize. Going to try and get our sound here under control with this new setup and this podcast recording.
Anyway, getting down to the one strategy that will help with the consistency of your ACL rehab. We often share this with our athletes, and it might seem obvious but can make a massive difference in outcomes. This might be just a reminder you need if you’re someone who feels like you are falling off of the wagon, having a hard time building up consistency with your ACL rehab, and is truly scheduling your ACL rehab. Now, this is a little different than the sessions you might have if you’re going to in-person physical therapy. Now you might have those sessions, whether it’s one time a week, two times, maybe three times. But just know, typically in most scenarios, you’re doing stuff outside of that. It’s very rare, especially if it’s once or twice a week. You’re definitely doing more outside of those one to two sessions, especially if you’re working on things like range of motion or just training in general. There are things that are happening outside of those two to three sessions.
What’s going to be most important is going to be scheduling your ACL rehab. This is going to be time-blocking. The way you want to look at this and what we tell our athletes often is to think about this like an important meeting or a call. Maybe it’s like an interview. And while these might seem like extreme examples, they’re important priorities and so is your ACL rehab. It’s the exact mindset you need and really those who treat it as such end up having the best outcomes because they schedule it and time-block it. This all comes back to prioritizing and planning; prioritize what’s most important. Like I said, like a meeting or a call or an interview, something that resonates that is important to you. You want to make sure you prioritize that as a high priority. And then you want to make sure you plan it like legit plan it into the schedule and into your week, and then do it. And if you miss, make sure you don’t miss twice. That’s the big motto for us this year and more so for myself. That’s the thing that we’ve been mostly focused on don’t miss twice. If you miss once, okay, that happens, life is going to get in the way. But you want to make sure you don’t do it twice. And that’s where prioritizing and planning can help so much to make sure you stay consistent.
And for me it’s made a huge difference because as we grow the team, as me and my wife have moved, and all the other things we have going on in life, making sure that we time-block and schedule, prioritize, and even something like training as a non-negotiable meeting for myself built into my day. Because it’s easy for me to let it go and be like, oh, I need to work on this. But really I need to make sure that I’m also prioritizing my health and the things that are important. And it’s the same thing that we advise for our ACLers and what I recommend for you; whether it’s a training session, some of the daily bricks or the range of motion work; whether it’s an hour or it’s 10 to 15 minutes in the morning, lunch night, maybe. If you could stack these together, that’s where those 1% gains that we talked about are going to really add up and compound. And that’s what’s going to move the needle in your ACL rehab, not just one grand training session here or there.
I’d rather have an athlete crush six to nine months consistently, versus an athlete who crushed the first two months of their ACL rehab, fell off the train, picked back up in four months, and so on and so forth. That consistency is really going to add up, and it’s essentially how stocks and any type of compound interest work. There’s going to be day-to-day fluctuations if you will, but it’s about the consistency over time that adds up. And one of the things people might feel is that they’re doing too much. It might be just that everything’s competing for time. And even your ACL rehab might be either too long, you feel like it’s a laundry list of stuff, or you’re doing too much for your schedule. So then that’s the point where you talk to your physical therapist, your strength and conditioning coach, who you’re working with to see if it can be reduced. And then do whatever has been reduced very intently.
And many times in this process we can subtract some movements and some things we’re doing and still get the same outcomes. Less is more in many cases. And we continue to see this over time, more and more in our own programming for our ACL athletes. Instead of adding more and more to the process, we end up actually taking things out. That’s where people end up having better outcomes, actually. But this is where having a sound plan, an individualized and adaptable program, and an ACL specialist guiding you, that’s where it’s really important. They’re going to know how to adjust and how to do that based on the variables at play, your lifestyle, your schedule, your equipment available, as well as the goals that are in focus currently. That’s what’s most important.
If you are someone struggling to hit some consistency, ask yourself why. Talk to the professional you’re working with. Adapt the program. Realize that you might need to take away some things and then focus on what the goal is. Ask what the short-term goal is so you can have a little bit more of a microfocus versus thinking, oh man, I got to get back to skiing, or to basketball, or to handball, whatever the activity or sport may be. That’s a long process. Focus on the short-term goal and that’ll help to push you forward, adapt the program to those goals, and then prioritize and plan, especially your ACL rehab, and schedule and time block it. Make it a non-negotiable.
And have something visual to help keep you accountable. Can be easy as something like a checkbox. Literally, write a sheet of paper. Get a calendar, and put a checkbox in it. Did I do what I needed to do or not? Or adjust it to make it more personal to you. But it’s helpful to have some accountability from ourselves, but also externally. For us, our remote training platform for our ACLers shows us how consistent, or maybe lack thereof they are for our athletes. Plus the coach that they’re working with is checking in consistently to make sure things are getting knocked out. And when it’s not, it’s a conversation and we dive into why. Is it the schedule? Is it the programming? Is it maybe life circumstances? Did something happen with maybe the family or maybe work or maybe it is school? Maybe there was a setback and they didn’t want to say anything.
This is something where it’s like asking why and then being able to adapt the program, readjusting the roadmap, and then making sure that we prioritize, plan, schedule, and time block it. This really applies to life, but especially helpful for ACL rehab when it can feel like a part-time job. Or it’s those phases where it seems to be dragging because you have been in it for a hot minute. Making sure we have these tools and these frameworks accessible and the reminders are going to be massively helpful. Make sure that if you are someone in this process, you are stopping for a second to understand why you don’t want to stack up these items. Is it the scheduling? Is it some of the programming? Is it just not really knowing the direction you’re going? Which is why we find a lot of ACLers reach out to us. They’re just like, I don’t really know why I’m doing these things. So that’s going to be an important thing to help you get buy-in into the process and to show up and see why it’s important to be doing those things.
Give this some thought. If you have any feedback or if you want any help with this, then always feel free to reach out to our team. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit up our website in the show notes. You can send us a contact form, whatever you want to be able to communicate to us. And we would love to be able to help you out.
And lastly, before we sign off here, sign up for the value newsletter. The second one went out yesterday, and it is all about practical advice and information for your ACL rehab. We talked about milestones, ACL rehab, programming, tips and design, and also some things about mindset. Do yourself a favor. Head to the show notes, and sign up for the newsletter because we actually have some pretty cool things in the works that we’re excited to share with you guys here pretty soon. Check that out. And as always, we’re here for you, ACLers, coaches, clinicians, healthcare professionals, supporting roles, anyone in the process, hit us up with anything that you need.
Until next time, thank you all so much for listening. This is your host, Ravi Patel, signing off.
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