Episode 154 | How to Reduce Overwhelm in Your ACL Rehab – Part 2

Show Notes:

In this episode, we cover part 2 of this 2-part series in how to reduce overwhelm in ACL rehab. Today, we’re tackling practical strategies you can implement today once you recognize what are the root causes leading to your overwhelm (part 1). We cover navigating certain seasons, scheduling, creating clarity, the MVP, prioritizing and your #1, and ultimately, having a GPS you can trust.

Welcome back team to another episode on the ACL Athlete Podcast. Today is part two of the two-part series: how to reduce overwhelm in your ACL rehab. So last week we talked about the overwhelming feeling and zooming out a little bit. We dug into some deeper reflections on why that may be the case and maybe it’s because of the season of life you’re in your time, maybe it’s guidance you’re getting, or maybe the lack thereof, clarity around your direction and your plan. It could be the expectations you’re setting for yourself and the process. And maybe it’s about how you’re dealing with your setbacks or the detours or road bumps along the way. This can lead to overwhelm, and this doesn’t include everything. But it does include a great majority of what we’re likely feeling and dealing with when it comes to life, when it comes to ACL rehab. This is something that I want to make sure we dive into a little bit deeper. 

Today, we are focused on part two, which is more solutions-oriented and practical applications related to how you can tackle this. But if you did not check out part one, do yourself a favor and do that before you dive into today’s episode, with these practical approaches to reduce overwhelm. 

The first thing that we are going to dig into is the season of life and time. I mentioned this a little bit in part one, but I want to make sure that we talk about this and clarify what are those action steps you need to take in order to be able to put into action, the rest of what we’re going to talk about today. When you’re talking about your season of life, you need to evaluate where you are. You need to recognize, is it a busier time? Is it a normal time of your life? Is it lighter? And for how long is this season going to exist? Is it going to be for the next month? Is it going to be maybe just this week? Maybe it’s for the next three to six months, or maybe you just have a newborn and this is something that is more present and you’re not going to be able to get rid of it ever. Therefore, this is something that you need to adjust for and account for during this current season. This is going to be really helpful because then therefore that’s going to influence your action items. 

One of the things I want to talk about even a little bit deeper is the specific time variables that play into the current season. Is this something where you have the days available to do this many days a week? Maybe it’s for an hour each time. What’s that bare minimum though, that you can realistically do? That’s the core of what we’re trying to get at. What’s that bare minimum each and every week for, let’s say the next four weeks that you can get into the gym, into rehab, and being able to make that happen? 

If you’re only doing two days of rehab in person and that’s all they’re telling you to do, but you have more time available. Then it’s likely you probably need to do a little bit more, maybe an additional day. So then talk to your rehab professional and say: Hey, like, you know where I’m coming into PT two times a week. I need to be able to make sure that I’m maximizing my current time because I have it available. What else can I do at home or have an additional gym session? Hopefully, your PT has you set up for the week and what that game plan looks like, but you’d be surprised how many times people are like, well, I’m just going to go to PT. This is my time. And then that’s only two hours in your week when you have more time available and we probably need a little bit more input than those two times per week. But if that’s all your schedule allows and that’s totally fine. We can still move the needle with that. You just have to be more strategic with what you’re doing. Maybe that bare minimum for you is two times per week for 45 minutes. Cool. Let’s attack that. Let’s make sure that we have that set. Maybe it’s three days, maybe it’s four times a week for 30 minutes. Well, let’s tackle that. This is where your rehab and your programming will all be dictated based on the number of days. The gym equipment that you have available, maybe it’s at home. The time available, of course, within that session. All those factors are in. You need to figure out what that looks like, especially in this current season, especially if it’s busy.

The next thing I’m going to suggest you to do is to block it in your schedule like the most important meetings of your week. Like it’s a job interview, make it a non-negotiable. This is the thing that I typically see where people go wrong is that they’ll just try to fit it in wherever they are. And trust me, I am guilty of this because as running your own business and with all the different factors that we have to navigate in terms of this, this is something that is not easy to just be like, all right, I’m just going to do it whenever time’s available. I have to block it in my schedule because I’m creating my own schedule. The other thing too, is that you’re likely having to work around either a set schedule or maybe you make your own, so block it in like a job interview. And that’s going to be so helpful to understand, like, this is my non-negotiable, this is my time for me. This is my time for ACL rehab and training. That’s going to help me get back to something that I really care about. So that’s going to help with the season of life and timing and setting that kind of expectation around it. 

The other thing I’ve mentioned is clarity around your guidance and your planning. Let’s say you’re with your rehab professional and coach who knows ACLs and they provide these things right. They provide that planning and clarity. Awesome, I’m so happy for you. Keep rolling with them. But maybe you’re still feeling overwhelmed. Maybe it’s time to have that conversation around this and what can be next action steps. Maybe what was working before isn’t working now based on the season of life or based on just some other factors or maybe it’s just your mindset. Maybe we need to reduce things down a little bit. This is where having that conversation with your guide and with your provider is going to be so key. So that’s going to help to create that clarity and guidance and reduce some of that overwhelm. 

This also leads me to the next point, which is creating an MVP. This is called the minimum viable program. This is a spinoff of the minimum viable product, which is very common in startups and in this process of putting the thing out there and testing it, getting feedback, and then being able to reiterate it. In this circumstance, we’re talking about the minimum viable program, which is combining essentially what is the minimum effective dose? Was that just enough we need? How can we build that into the program that is feasible for you based on your schedule, your equipment available, your time, your energy, all those things? And most importantly, your goals we’re working towards. So this is that program that addresses what needs to be addressed — goal-wise. It’s built to be that minimum amount to keep the needle moving forward. And so when in doubt here, simplify, this means that addition by subtraction or less is more principle that we’ve talked about before. We want to make sure we reduce down so we’re effective with each and everything that we do. Because if we’re doing a lot, well, we’re probably being spread a little thin and if we don’t have the energy or the time to do that, or probably just putting 50% effort or even less than that into every single thing. What if we reduce down from 10 things to 4 things? And being able to give high output for that for the certain times that you do it. It might not seem like a lot, but higher intent with less is way, way, way better than moderate output or low input with a bunch of different things. You’re just going to get little input from those pieces and not move the needle as much as you would, in comparison to reducing it down. 

This is where that MVP can be so valuable. And this might be something where you think about, literally cutting out 70% of what you were doing before. And of course, this is a conversation with your provider, with your rehab professional, to make sure that that’s what makes the most sense. But you’re still focusing on certain big rocks that are going to be important. You want to make sure though that you are granular with this because just saying you want to get stronger and focus on quad strength isn’t enough. Let’s make sure that we figure out what the time blocks are, what equipment is available, and then being able to dedicate as much intent and effort within those particular blocks and the movements and the intensity and all of that, to be able to help continue to move the needle with the appropriate time you have available. And to help reduce down this overwhelm. Clarity is key. Simplify is key in this. 

This leads to figuring out your top priorities, which is my next point. ACL rehab has a lot of moving parts. Even on the clinical and coaching side from myself, from our team, when we talk about this, it can be tough deciding which buckets to fill, because there are so many we need to work on and areas to focus on with athletes needing a variety of inputs.They need to get back to these certain things. This is tough whenever there are so many things that we need to work on from range of motion to functional positions, to strength in certain muscle groups, to graft sites, to being able to produce power, and being able to jump and run and cut, all of these things. We have to top on that reactivity and being able to get re-exposed back to what the sport is or activity the athlete needs to do — a lot of moving pieces. This is something where having a framework is important. But most important is being able to know what our top priorities are for that current block and making sure that that is connected to their goals and making sure that it is connected to short-term and long-term. Long-term is great. That’s awesome. But we also need the short term in order to have a certain direction to work towards and understand, if we’re completing the appropriate KPIs. Are we hitting the right criteria in order to continue to move the needle in the direction toward that longer-term goal?

My advice here is to be able to figure out these top priorities. And what I mean by this is just ask yourself and ask your provider more importantly, what are the top three priorities to focus on with always knowing what is your number one? That might be getting a full knee extension so you got to go ham on that, maybe it’s your quad strength, maybe it’s the power in your quad to slow yourself down or decelerate, maybe is to be propulsive and work on that rate of force work for a concentric-type movement of maybe a single leg jump, maybe it is repeated single leg jumps. There are a lot of different variables as you guys know with ACL rehab. And so when we’re looking at priorities and goals, we need to make sure we understand what are our top three. And most importantly, knowing what is our number one that way you have your north star to work on, especially during times when it’s busier, there’s overwhelm. So then that way you can cancel out all that noise and find what it is is that signal, which is going to be those top priorities. 

If you’re not sure about this, just ask your PT, just ask them and say: Hey, like, what are the top three things I need to achieve in the next four weeks? And hopefully, they have clarity around this. Write those down. And when in doubt, always come back to these three things when you’re low on time, or you need to simplify. And if you need to get even more specific have that number one insight. So that way you can always keep that momentum going, even that one specific quality and goal you’re aiming for. As I’ve mentioned, if you don’t feel you have someone to provide that particular guidance, then find another option. 

One that will give you clarity around where you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there with clear direction, planning and guidance. Is that GPS you’re looking for, you get in your car, and you know where you’re at because you’ve been tested and assessed, you’ve been communicated with, you know what that next point is, at point B, that three-hour drive that I talked about before. And you get in the car, you’re in the driver’s seat. We’re not driving the car for you, but we are the GPS that is alongside you. We’re working to help navigate all the different detours and traffic that you’re dealing with, the place that you might need to get gas, and then being able to get right back on the highway to make the most efficient route for you from this three-hour process or this point a to point B, as I had mentioned before. This is something that we want to make sure we have and will ultimately make or break this process for ACL rehab. 

The last thing that I’ll mention here is making sure we get our expectations in check, understanding that this won’t necessarily be the smoothest ride that you’ll ever be on, and being able to check in and communicate. I think that if you have clarity around your directions and your goals (short-term and long-term), you have someone you trust, you’re able to take a step back and assess what season of life you’re in and just make those adjustments, then it can help with handling the expectations and especially any setbacks that happen along the way. Usually, setbacks happen a lot of the time when things are mismanaged or things fall between the cracks more than anything. And of course, there are uncontrollable factors with the human body. We can’t always say that for certain, but it is a lot of times what we see is that it’s just mismanagement. Therefore that could play into that frustration, into that expectation of thinking you were going to be somewhere else. When it could have been managed a little bit better because of who you’re working with, or it may be getting in front of some of those issues related to your game plan and the direction you are going in. So that’s where expectation and making sure that we understand these setbacks will be a key player in this. You’ll see this influence any type of emotion negatively that you might be feeling, especially that overwhelming feeling. 

My goal with this two-part series is to know that overwhelm is normal as humans. It’s normal in such a complex process and journey such as ACL rehab. It’s the craziest musculoskeletal injury, in my opinion, outside of major, crazy injuries like the spinal cord. It’s so complex. If we knew all the answers, we wouldn’t have all these reinjury rates and all these people tearing their ACL, but it happens. I know you guys are listening because you don’t want to be a part of that statistic. And so with that said, how can we navigate this as efficiently as productively being able to be in control of our own process, but then also having someone in our corner to help support us, right? That’s going to be key. I think with this overwhelm, especially when it sets in it’s normal to react haphazardly because life’s happening. And you’re just trying to keep your head afloat and above water. Let’s be real guys, sometimes that’s how this feels. I get that. That was me so many different times. But the way that we attack this is going to be by taking that step back first, evaluating what that root cause is, or the causes multiple things playing into this and likely are. And then attack what those are strategically. 

Overwhelm does happen to everyone. How you take action will be a major determining factor in how long it sticks around. And how you are moving closer toward what you want out of this ACL rehab process. And really life, this doesn’t necessarily have to apply to ACL rehab, it applies to life. The thing is, is that we can take a lot of those strategies and things that we’re dealing with and apply it to our situation because I know it can be so present with so many ACLers that we talk to. 

I hope that this helps you hit the ground running for 2024 if you’re listening to this. During the new year and this time, or maybe you’re in the middle or late seasons of 2024, or maybe it’s 2025, who knows? Maybe this is 2026 and you’re listening to this right now, I appreciate you if you are. But the timing honestly, doesn’t matter because this applies no matter where you’re at in the calendar year or in the process when you are listening. If you need support, we’re here. Reach out via email or from a forum via our website. You can find that in the show notes. If you’re looking for guidance and clarity, and you’re tired of feeling this loss feeling and want direction, then check out our one-on-one ACL remote coaching. 

This year, we are taking things to a new level for our ACLers, the community, the services that we bring for our ACLers, and also to our clinicians and coaches in this space. We want to make sure we can serve as many of you as we can and we know we can impact all of you through all of the education and all of the things that we share for free for you on our website, through this podcast. For any of the other ways through remote coaching, through our mentorship, there are a bunch of different mediums to be able to dive in deeper, especially if you’re feeling like you need more direction and we can help be a GPS in that process. 

My advice today is to reflect on this. Look at those root causes that are potentially creating this overwhelm and then create some type of strategic plan and take action. Literally, put it in play, do the freaking thing. Don’t make 2024 or whatever time it is that you’re listening to this. Just another thing where you’re like, all right, I’ll do it next year. Or I’ll start later when there’s a better time. Trust me. There’s never a better time, seriously. That’s the thing we tell ourselves all the time and a lot of times it’s the fear of the action we take and potentially taking the chance. But what if that chance did allow you to get back to the thing, allow you to get back to more of being you? Allow you to take a step into an identity that you want to be and put votes towards that versus an identity you don’t want to be, which is being fearful and worried about your knee and walking on eggshells. 

This is my call to action to you guys: to take action, do the thing, be fearless, make sure that you have guidance. Be able to work on you and you will see that spread into so many other areas of your life. Cheers to a solid start to 2024. I’m with you guys. Let’s do the fricking thing.

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