Spring is here. The ski areas are closing, the snow in the backcountry is stabilizing, and Christy and I have been getting out on some fun spring tours. Nothing too far out there or challenging, actually more of usual spring hit list than anything. Hayden, Sopris, Mount Shimer up on Independence Pass… it’s been really fun so far.
That’s not simply because we love backcountry skiing, but also because I’m getting back to normal after having my hip replaced back in December. As a result of having gone through that procedure, it feels even more special to be getting out on the skis.
That’s not to say that I didn’t expect to return to normal activities. But to have such an invasive procedure it’s only natural to wonder…. So I’m really happy to report that now, four and half months later, everything has gone well and I feel very few limitations. I actually can’t recall my old original hip every feeling as good as the new one!
For friends and acquaintances, particularly those who are in different phases of their own joint upgrades, I thought I should give a brief breakdown of how my recovery progressed. Without delving into too much detail, here’s my timeline of rehab and activities:
Week 0-2: Square One – As expected, I was fully in a recovering patient mode. I was weight-bearing on the new joint right away, but relied on a single crutch (or a ski pole if outdoors) for extra support. Mobility was limited to moving around our place, stairs, and small walks outside beginning four days after surgery. Short sessions on the stationary bike without resistance were ok. I iced regularly with the GameReady ice machine for three weeks after surgery.
Week 2-4: Taking it easy – The joint felt considerably better, and I was able to go for longer walks outside, around one mile in length. My range of motion was much improved as well. The quadricep and supporting muscles didn’t tire or ache nearly as often as in the initial weeks.
Week 4-6: Longer outings – I was able to increase the activity quite a lot. I could do a roundtrip hike of about four miles up Smuggler Mountain (+800 feet) and back. I began skinning at Snowmass ski area, and downloading on the gondola (I wasn’t approved to ski for a while). I was able to ride the stationary bike for close to an hour with light resistance. I went for flat walks for five miles or so.
Week 6-8: Skinning again – The leg and joint just felt increasingly strong. I started skinning Aspen Mountain and downloading. I was getting out on activities of an hour or more in length nearly everyday. Smuggler to Hunter Creek loop hikes were good, longer bike rides, and longer flat walks. By now the leg felt good, the surgery site was still sore and a bit swollen though.
Week 9-12 – Ramping back up – I added some longer hikes during a trip out to Moab, up to 10 miles, and I skinned the 3200 vertical feet up Aspen Mountain 2-3 each week. Despite being told I didn’t need to do any specific physical therapy, I did arrange for some PT guidance with strengthening exercises. 15 miles on the bike trainer felt fine, and I began some nordic skiing, both skate and classic on our local trails.
Week 13-16 Skiing again! – After 12 weeks I was cleared to ski again. It took a few days of taking it easy to get the timing and small movements back. From that point I could ski all day and began working on the mountain, skiing with clients. Initially, I was careful to stick to moderate terrain, but in pretty short time I was able to move up to easy moguls. I got back to more yoga-like stretching and rolling. I continued to skin and hike, but always integrated some rest days into my calendar so as not to overdo things.
Week 17- present Back to normal? – Nowadays there’s very little to remind me that I had my joint replaced. The surgery site is fine (I can foam roll on it), the swelling is long gone. I’m able to skin and ski full days with no soreness, strain, discomfort, or unusual feeling in my joint. Walking, stairs, twisting, bending… everything seems just fine. Some days I don’t think about it at all.
Looking ahead – While I can’t proclaim to be at 100% yet, I can say that everything feels really good, better than I ever expected. My PT said I was good to go and didn’t need any further evaluation. I ended up working quite a lot on the mountain, and Christy and I have some ski trips on the calendar ahead.
While things can always change, I have to say it’s all gone better than my most optimistic expectations. Now that summer is looking to be normal, this might be the last update I need to make on the new hip. Yay.
See you out there.