Episode 38 | 40 Milliseconds – An Opportunity

Show Notes:

In this episode, we cover what 40 milliseconds mean, a mindset shift for opportunity, and how it can be a defining moment for you in your life and ACL journey.

What’s up guys, and welcome back to another episode. Today, we are talking about 40 Milliseconds. For those of you who are probably following me on Instagram, you probably know what this is about. For those of you who have not, you’re in for a treat today. But this one’s going to hit a little different. And I hope y’all are cool with this. I sat down and I was thinking about this, and I just wanted to turn it into a podcast episode and dive a little bit deeper into this. Because I think that this can get missed a lot in this process, and it’s not something that everyone can really relate to unless you’ve really gone through this injury and through this surgery.

I’m going to kick this off by reading the caption of this post. And to frame this for you guys, I want you to imagine a picture with the number 40, four, zero, and then milliseconds right after that. And what that equates to, in terms of just seconds, it is 0.04 seconds, which is a very, very, very short amount of time. This is the time it takes between the time your foot hits the ground and for your ACL to tear. I’m going to read you the caption of this post, and then we are just going to go from there. A 40 milliseconds equals 0.04 seconds—this is the amount of time it takes for an ACL tear to occur after ground contact—that’s fast.

I tried to get fancy and stop my stopwatch at 0.04 seconds to use it as a photo for this post. I couldn’t do it because it was just too fast. This is how quickly your life can get turned upside down after an ACL injury; whether that’s not competing in the sport you identify with, the camaraderie with your teammates, your potential career, that trip you had planned coming up, running around with your toddlers, the anxiety kicking in of gaining weight, daily activities we take for granted like walking, using the bathroom, driving, sleeping, etc. Sure, this may seem dramatic. But any athlete who has gone through this process knows exactly what I’m talking about. It takes just one moment. Then, you have to start navigating a road that’s completely foreign. Who do I need to see a surgeon? Is my insurance going to cover this? Graft type, what’s a graft? Rehab? What’s the recovery? Nine months, what? No one ever thinks it’s going to happen to them until it does. 

For the ACL athletes out there, just know it’s okay to feel this way. It can be very overwhelming in a short period of time. I know I was feeling all of these things after my two own ACL injuries. Even after it happens once, it doesn’t mean it makes number two any easier. What’s most important is that you make the best-informed decision for your health and care. Trust your gut. Find someone to help guide you on your ACL journey and who knows that 40 milliseconds could be a defining moment for you in your life. I know it was for me. 

All right. Cue the violin, the dramatic music. But the reason I read this to you is because of how much it really hit home for me. I can write this out and I was thinking about it and I was thinking about all the ACL athletes that I talked to and the ones that I work with. And this was just something that I had just been reflecting on and thinking about with this journey, with the people that I talked to, and how quickly this really can change in just a matter of milliseconds. It’s the fuel of anxiety, the fear of the unknown, the what ifs, and making the right decisions. There’s so much that goes into this process. A lot of people who haven’t gone through this are probably like, “Dude, you’re talking like someone just died.” It’s not that serious, but it still is pretty freaking serious. I’ve seen some people go down some really dark paths because they may not be able to play their sport again. Or, maybe it’s happened multiple times and they’re starting to lose hope, or maybe they’ve gained a lot of weight, all of these things. And that happened to me, I had a lot of weight gain. I had questions on if I would ever be truly athletic again, and if I would ever come back to play my sport, all of these things kind of factored into all of these internal feelings that I was feeling.

And realistically, no one ever expects to be on this journey. You aren’t just like, “Ah, I’m going to be an ACL athlete one day. No one ever strives to be in this position. But then it’s one of these situations where you are in this position, so then what do you do? And you have two options. You can sit in misery, wonder why it happened to you, more of that negative glass-half-empty point of view. Or, you can use this as an opportunity. You can look at it from a more positive point of view, the glass-half-full. And I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason. For me, that 40 milliseconds really transformed my life for the better. It has led me to pursue a passion in ACL rehab, education, trying to help revolutionize this field for better care, and my own passion, which is helping all of you ACL athletes in this space. And that 40 milliseconds really helped me to be able to essentially figure this out over time.

And if you’re currently in the middle of it, I know it sucks, I’ve been through it twice. And that’s okay. Sometimes there’s no other way to put it, especially when you’re potentially feeling a setback, or maybe things aren’t going as planned. Maybe the timeline that you had in your head, or maybe the physio you’re working with, maybe it’s not going out to what you want it to be. And that’s totally fine to feel that way. But what’s going to be most important is that you get out of that quickly when it does happen. If I look back at my own ACL journeys, if I reflect on the athletes who have done really well with me and who I have seen, just have a great trajectory as well as getting back to the things that they love to do, even if it’s one, two, even three ACL tears, and they’re still trying to get back to those things. The people who end up having the best recovery are the ones who can shift this mindset from why did this happen to me to use this as an opportunity. You might be wondering, what do you mean by an opportunity? And some of this is for you to figure out because it’s going to be so specific to your context, in your situation, and where you’re at in life.

But one of the things that I always suggest to athletes to look at this is we’re building from the ground back up. You can become a better athlete through this process. I had an athlete the other day, say, that she was in better conditioning than she was in high school, as she’s going through her rehab. And then one other athlete who is pushing way more weight and much stronger than she was at any point in her life in the past from what she had remembered. And she’s crushing her goals. There are opportunities to become a better athlete and be able to own positions better, to recover better, to learn more about your body, and to be able to understand training, not just running it into the ground, but understanding stress and recovery and balancing those two things.

And then there’s the whole piece of just the mental aspect. The term that I want to relate to this is resilience. And if you look up the definition of resilience, it’s the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. “Toughness” is another word that’s synonymous with it. And this isn’t just for the injury. Sure, it applies here, but this is for life really. And you hear that word resilience thrown around a lot. It’s one of those things that really can’t apply to this situation. And when I think about it in my own sense, I think about any time I face any type of ailment or difficulty or failure, or just a hard, rough patch. My two recoveries play a role in my ability to bounce back from it and stay strong. And I feel like I can handle hard things because this has played into my experiences of things that are hard. And whether that is the mental piece, the physical piece, the emotional, or all of the above, I feel stronger because of it. And it’s helped me a lot in life through these different experiences and through these different seasons.

One person that I do want to point out, that I think can give some good perspective here is Megan, who is an ACL athlete. She was actually on one of the previous episodes where we did a patient perspectives round table. She talks about how her journey has been and it is crazy. She is up to her 11th surgery. She has had sure a complicated journey overall. I don’t wish that on anyone. But anytime I talk to Megan, she is so positive. She’s like, I’m going to get back on the field, I’m going to play and we’re going to make this happen. And you want to talk about a glass-half-full, that’s about as half-full as it gets. It’s very impressive and it takes a lot of mental fortitude, a lot of resilience, and just a lot of reflecting to be able to have that type of mindset in this journey like Megan is. And so that’s where I think this resilience piece can really help play a role for you in potential hard times that come in your life. This brings me to my next point, which is being able to use this as an opportunity to reflect on your identity and your purpose as a human.

I know a lot of athletes, especially young athletes that I talk to who really do identify with a specific sport. I remember when I was going through high school, I would identify myself as a football player, wrestler, or baseball player. It was just one of those things, especially if you’re someone who plays one specific sport that is ingrained in you. You know it is just your whole life in terms of whether it’s practice or games, travel, whatever it is. It can be one of those things that could be really devastating during this time, whenever you might not be able to travel with the team or you can’t practice, or whatever that dynamic looks like. It can get kind of difficult to navigate.

This is an opportunity not only for athletes who are in these sports, but any person who’s going through this process to be able to reflect on their identity and their purposes in life. As I had alluded to earlier, this gave me an opportunity to seek rehab and physical therapy and to specialize in ACL rehab. It’s honestly such a huge passion for me at this point. I’ve created a podcast about it. My company solely works with just ACL athletes, so you could say I’m a little obsessed with this. But it’s really something that I get fired up about every single day, and it’s because of people like you who help me to live through this purpose, and through the messages I get, and through just seeing athletes responding well, and getting back to the life and the activities that they love to do really fire me up. 

For you being able to see, okay, is this something where you not only see yourself as an athlete but as a human and what that purpose looks like? And then some other things to think about as this opportunity is being able to reconnect with friends or family. Because you might have some time to be able to do other things, or maybe pursue other interests that you’ve had on the list. But because you’re sports or because of life, maybe you had to put those on hold or you’ve never pursued those. Maybe it’s now time to think through those things and maybe pursue some other interests or connect with other people that you’ve been wanting to. This can be a time opportunity as well as just a life opportunity for you to be able to learn. But it’s one of those things that can be really tough because it’s also a hard time to go through because you are recovering from rehab. There’s also the physical pain of it, the emotional and mental piece of it. But as I had mentioned before, it’s okay to have those days where it is tough. But if you can shift this mindset by looking at this 40-millisecond change, as an opportunity instead of a why me, you might just notice that the tough days that you have are getting easier to get through. You may even be a better human as a result of it. 

This was a deep one, guys, and one that I wanted to share and to talk about. I know it’s a little different from typical episodes, but it really hit home for me. I hope it hit home for some of you guys. And if it did, I would love for you to reach out to me on Instagram at ravipatel.dpt and just share with me any thoughts that you have. Otherwise, that’ll do it for today’s episode. As a reminder, each month I’m picking one person to have a free strategy call. All you have to do is sign up for our newsletter and leave a review. So that takes one to two minutes max. Reviews help a lot for other ACL athletes like you to be able to see this podcast and get informed decisions, and education about their own care, which is why I care so much about it.

But do me a favor, go and leave a review. Much appreciated. That will it for today, guys. Thank you all so much for listening. This is your host, Ravi Patel, signing off.

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