How Long After Hip Replacement Before Skiing?
Returning to skiing following Total Hip Replacement
Skiing is a popular winter sport with millions of enthusiasts around the world. If you have recently been treated with a hip replacement surgery or a total hip replacement (THR) and will soon have one, you might be pleased to hear that getting back to your favourite sport is possible. In fact, with the right precautions and a tailored rehabilitation program, you could hit the slopes again very soon.
What is a Total Hip Replacement surgery?
This surgical intervention substitutes the two articular components of your hip joint, namely the acetabulum and the head of the femur. This procedure is usually proposed for patients with certain types of hip arthritis, joint inflammatory disorders, or those suffering from long-standing hip pain that cannot be resolved with physiotherapy. This surgery reduces pain, improves range of movement, and increases quality of life.
Acute stage: 6 Weeks After Hip Replacement
The first weeks after surgery are dedicated to reducing pain and swelling and increasing a safe range of motion. At this stage, your safety will be paramount; hence, easy exercises in safe ranges of movement will be proposed. The goal is to stimulate muscle activation and prevent atrophy whilst minimising the risks of dislocating the new implant. During this time, you will progress from walking with two crutches to one crutch only and, finally no crutches.
Sub-acute stage: 12 Weeks After Hip Replacement
At this stage, the focus will shift to increasing your muscle strength and endurance whilst keeping an eye on those essential muscles that guarantee stability during skiing: the quadriceps, the Gluteus Medius, the Gluteus Maximus, and the hamstrings. Your muscles will need to be strong to tolerate the load imposed by skiing, but they must also be fatigue-resistant. A combination of balance exercises will also be implemented, with the idea of increasing movement complexity. You can generally cycle on a stationary bike at this stage to help build your leg strength.
Consolidation phase: 3 to 6 After Hip Replacement
At this stage, you can walk pain-free without compromising your functional activities at home or outside. This phase will focus on consolidating previous balance exercises, increasing self-confidence and reducing fear about the exercises you will be challenged with. You should keep in mind that recovery from THR surgery is not only physical but also psychological! The ski-erg machine can be beneficial during this phase.
Skiing After Hip Replacement: 6 – 9 months Hip Replacement
Ideally, you should be able to get back to skiing after 9 months from your THR surgery. However, this is not an exact recipe, as individuality will need to be taken into account, as well as your pre-operative fitness level. This phase aims to challenge your whole body with a wide range of exercises that will determine your readiness for enjoying the slopes safely. The major concern is that a significant fall can cause damage to your total hip replacement as it can lead to complex revision surgery.
When returning to skiing, a general recommendation is to prefer long-range turns and possibly avoid steep slopes and moguls.
At Flawless Physio, we offer online consultations for as little as £60. These can be very helpful for reassurance and advice on returning to skiing.
We specialise in rehabilitation and Physiotherapy with our clinic in Fulham, South West London.