Many equestrians will face hip replacements as a result of injuries or degenerative joint diseases. Nobody enjoys the prospect of surgery, but the thought that your condition could prevent you from riding again is even worse! If you need a replacement hip or hips, will you be able to get back in the saddle after your surgery?The short answer is yes! Some equestrians are able to have a hip replacement or even a double hip replacement and continue to enjoy riding. But don't expect to jump back in the saddle in a matter of days!
How Will You Feel After Surgery?
A hip replacement is a major procedure. Whilst your new hip will immediately alleviate the pain you have been experiencing as a result of your injury or arthritis, the soft tissue surrounding the joint will be disrupted during the surgery and so aches and pains are inevitable during your recovery. You will regain your ease of movement gradually and will be using crutches both indoors and outside until you can mobilise without a pronounced limp.
Building Your Strength
You will undergo physio for a few weeks or even months to build your strength and mobility. You should progress to walking without crutches when you feel sufficiently confident. It is important that you work hard to build muscle strength before returning to sporting activities, even if you feel that you have recovered well. You need strength and balance if you are to ride safely.
The Benefits of Low Impact Sports
Doctors do not recommend that those who have undergone a hip replacement engage in high-impact sports following surgery. Jogging, for example, is not a great idea as this type of activity will stress your new joint causing it to wear out more quickly or even to break. However, lower impact sports including cycling and horse riding can be recommended as they keep you fit and mobile without placing undue stress on your joints. However, it is important that you do not attempt to ride until your doctor is happy that you have recovered sufficiently. So you may need to exercise a little patience! We should also mention that riding after a hip replacement is a great idea for experienced equestrians but is not recommended for those who haven't ridden before.
It is important to note that falls could result in you dislocating your new hip. For this reason, riding is clearly a riskier enterprise after surgery than sports such as swimming, cycling and golf. It is best to limit yourself to riding on safe terrain and on a reliable, well-trained horse that you trust. Only you can decide whether a particular ride or location is an acceptable risk. It is possible to return to the saddle within months of hip replacement surgery. Leading riders have been able to continue their careers after surgery. But it is crucial that you progress gradually and to do everything you can to minimise the risk of falls.