Skiing after a new hip

Lily & mummy skiing in Val d'isere 2014

I managed to ski for the first time since my hip replacement at 22 months post operation (April 2014). I know some people who have undergone a hip replacement have managed to ski just a few months after their operation and I even know a physiotherapist who was skiing 3 months after a knee replacement!  I just did not feel ready, confident or even strong enough on the new hip to ski in the first 12 months post surgery.

I had managed to lose so much leg muscle mass in the 2 years before the hip operation it took me a considerable amount of time to feel I had regained the power in the leg again. Skiing has been a pretty big hurdle for me as the thought of falling over and hurting myself on the slope was not appealing in the slightest. My surgeon Marcus Bankes, had ensured me that skiing was absolutely fine post hip however we never actually discussed the falling over aspect. For me it felt rather risky and a bit stupid really doing it but as I love the sport, the thought of not ever skiing again would be a real shame.

At the time, Nic, Lily and I drove from London to Val d’Isere France to meet our friends for 1 week in the Easter snow April 2014. I was definitely keen to be out in the Alps again especially after having so much fun there between 2000-2010, climbing , skiing, mountaineering. I loved the mountains and it was great being back. I was equally excited to introduce our daughter Lily who is 3’5 years old to skiing, hoping secretly she would love it.

Lily tried a mini ski school but she didn’t like it. I think the thought of queuing with other toddlers just didn’t appeal and the fact she was only tiny. After encouraging her she became more frustrated, started to cry and was somewhat rude to the ski teachers we decided enough was enough. That was the end of the ski for now.

I decided she should then stick with mum and ski with me in between my skis. Now for me this was going to be a challenge. I didn’t feel at all confident on my skis so how was I going to do this?? It takes a lot of snowing ploughing and power through the downhill leg and much harder on the turns even on a gentle green slope. However the biggest challenge for me was getting on and off the chair lift. I ask my friends what other parents were doing with their children and watched and learned. Best way on was to get the chair lift to slow right down at both ends and then when getting off grab Lily around her waist under one arm as you stand off the chair and carry her to safety. The next part was setting myself up for the downhill part, bending down to tighten my boots which was a bit of a strain on the hip, then getting Lily in between my skis, making sure her gloves were securely on and then off we went down the slope snow ploughing with her singing ‘if your happy and you know it clap your hands’!!! She did really well and wasn’t scared in the slightest.  As we got lower down on the slope she shouted ‘let me go, let me go’! so when ready I did and off she went trying to lean forwards and after 30 metres would stop by falling backwards and laughing.

It took me 3 days of skiing to start feeling excited about it again. The first two days I just didn’t enjoy it. However, from a rehab perspective, I found skiing was really good for forcing the weight through the operated leg and strengthening the quadriceps and hip abductors. I was much more effective than doing clams or mini dips. So I will preserve and continue this much loved activity!