Riding after hip surgery

On early Sunday I crashed on a slippery surface I couldn’t see until I got onto it. Smashed my left hip and went to hospital for surgery with two pins inserted.

At this stage they are seeing if that will be okay or if I will need a hip replacement.

Riding even in Zwift is off the cards for a long time.

Anyone here gone through this, what difficulties did you have and what was your recovery process? I’m just hoping to prepare for what I might face.

This is new to me, first time in hospital for 30 years and first time for anything broken and gone from high fitness to zero.

Mentally I’m holding up so far and currently home on crutches just doing minimal activity that is needed with assistance for anything else like getting food, etc.

Broke my femur (comminuted intertrochanteric fracture) beginning of last Nov. Same day surgery. Big long titanium nail, hip screw and a little screw put inside me.1 wk in hospital. 14wks non-weight bearing. Currently at 19wks. The last 5wks I’ve been doing daily rehab including the trainer. Put away the walker/Zimmer about 10d ago. While I can’t walk completely normal yet, I can fool you some of the time. Be patient. Listen to the doctor. Listen to your body. Be patient.

I have a friend who had a surgery similar to mine. She recovered and was racing again. Then, six years later, she needed a hip replacement due to necrosis of the hip (AVN ??). Anyway, she had a hip replacement. She’s once again racing half marathons and triathlons and winning her age group.

You will recover. Be patient. Focus on rest and recovery. Eat well. Sleep well. Avoid Strava. Focus on a hobby, your wife and/or kids, etc… Listen to the doc! Listen to your body!

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Thanks. It’s a very long way for me to be at that stage and I’m still in a lot of pain at times.

I’m managing to stay positive so far.

Came to cycling about a year ago after having a total knee replacement. Took a long time to feel anything really athletic again, but cycling has been fantastic. Speedy recovery!

Thanks Matt and Lin Alan for the replies.

I’m at about 4 weeks nearly with two screws in my femur. I don’t need a hip replacement but so far I’m using crutches still and weight bearing is not allowed. I have someone help me stay balanced when going up and down the steps at the entrance to my house for safety.

The wound where surgeons went in to operate is healed.

There is another check up in four weeks with another lot of scans.

At the moment all I can do is listen to music, watch movies and read lots of books (engineering related).

Unfortunately I’ve heard other people crashed in the same place I did due to the dangerous conditions.

Lin Alan: best wishes with your recovery.

Not needing hip replacement is a good thing. 4wks is nothing in the big scheme of things. It will seem like 4mo, but you’ll be up and about before you know it. I went 14wks non-weight bearing. I was using a walker vs crutches (not my choice, that’s what the doc recommended :man_shrugging:)i’m at 5mo now, 2mo into rehab. I had a checkup a couple days ago. Everything looks great. Put away the walker about 1mo into rehab. As of about a week ago, I walk normally. While I can still feel it w/every step, it’s not visible to others that anything happened to me.

Catch up on Netflix, music, and your reading. You’ll be cleared for rehab before you know it. Cycling is much easier than walking once you start back, especially the longer you go w/out weight bearing. Listen to the doc and listen to your body.

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I’m 16 months into a similar procedure. I’ve found that I can now do everything bar sprinting/running. I still get soft tissue pain, so am on the recon list to have my gamma nail removed, after which I can expect full recovery.

I was told initially, no weight bearing exercise, but gentle supported activity was fine after two months. I kept it very gentle on the turbo, but by month 4 was able to up the intensity.

Your body will tell you what you’re capable of, but listen to the medical staff. They deal with this case type daily.

Long story short, I’ve recovered pretty much all my ability, so no reason to expect anything different for you.

Hi Chris,

I’m sorry to hear about your accident. I hope your hip will heal well and you won’t need hip replacement.
Judging from your description of treatment (2x pins) it is likely that you sustained specific type of neck of femur fracture - subcapital variant. This is different to what other people here are describing (other fractures mentioned are most likely intertrochanteric type).
Although your type of fracture carries a risk of avascular necrosis (it can take up to 2 years from injury for AVN to declare itself) it can often heal so well that patient can function as well as before the accident.
It takes at least 6 weeks for bone to heal and sometimes longer than 12 weeks. Be patient, follow the rehab protocol and hope for the best. Even if you end up with total hip replacement you should still be able to return to cycling.
Good luck!

Bummer about the accident and hope you recover. I came out lucky when I went over the handle bars at 24 mph a few years ago trying to get a drink. Busted helmut, sore ribs and hip, and lots of road rash. My wife went in to get her knee scoped and came out with having micro-fracture surgery done. The Dr ended up clearing the joint and drilling holes in the end of the bone to let it bleed and get some stem cells in the are to regrow the cartilage (or something). No weight on leg for 12 weeks or so.

Best learning is if you have a tile or wood floors get a lab chair to move around. She is not really strong enough for crutches long term so the wheels let her move around the house.

Engineering books?? You need help sleeping? Bernolli’s equation is great the first time through but something like that needs to be put into Excel or sim program. Robert Crais, early Clancy, and A.E. van Vogt FTW! Download all the bike races!

Stay well and good luck.

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Yeah, I’m happiest looking at the engineering of a M125 in a W125 Merc, one of those old pre WW2 supercharged inline-8 beasts. :slight_smile:

I got back on Zwift today for 15 minutes, I wanted to see if I could manage to get on the kickr bike, which I did:

  • lower the height by one notch so I could get my leg over the bike
  • carefully rest on top of bike then clip in with right foot, then push up onto the saddle then clip in left foot.
  • getting off the bike was the reverse of that.

This really helps get rid of the remaining swelling in my leg and also helps free up the muscles. I will try another 15 minutes tonight.

I’m not putting out any real power, just only 60-70w - but just trying to get smooth movement back. Fortunately I haven’t gotten fat yet. It’s a far cry from where I was. But that’s what happens with major surgery and then being inactive for a couple of months. But just being able to carefully get on the kickr bike is a big win.

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Assuming you’re cleared for this :sweat_smile:

That said, a few things I learned about 3mo ago when I was in the same situation:

  • get a step stool and use it to get on off the bike, carefully!
  • clip your shoes in w/your hands and leave them on the bike.
  • spin lightly. forget about power and be happy to move.
  • keep the sessions short, less than 30min for a couple weeks.

You will be tempted to push harder and/or longer. Don’t, you’ll really feel it the next day. Again, be happy to move. Now is not the time for training, fitness gains, etc… For now, go ridiculously easy and listen to your body.

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Yes, cleared for this. :slight_smile:

I had Josh Amberger (the triathlete) go cruising past at 3.8w/kg - normally this pace I’d do without bother, no chance now. :wink: I’m happy to progress a bit slowly and steadily.

I thought about clipping in my shoes by hand, but that’s a bit too difficult.

I’m still on crutches but starting to walk with them. This is the start of getting moving.

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Hi ya Chris,
I was a runner, 50+miles a week until about 3 years ago. My left knee took some damage and a scope turned into a pretty major surgery. Of course, you have the first few months of healing, reducing swelling, etc…As time went on I tried to run again. I could go a week or two, but then the knee would swell and the pain would return. I tried 3 different times to run over a 2 year period. Running is no longer in my cards, but here is the good news. Recently, I got a Bowflex C7 (yeah I know it’s a spin bike). Hooked it up to Zwift and yesterday I rode my fourth or fifth ride, a 2 hour zone 2 ride. I can happily say other than normal soreness and a bit of IT ache from time to time everything seems normal, no swelling or major pain in my knee. The biggest struggle is being patient and remembering I’m not where I once was physically, so I have to slow the pace a bit, shorter workouts, less intensity, all those things will come with time once the core engine is rebuilt. Best bet is listen to your doctors and listen to what your body tells you, speedy recovery to you.

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This will kill 1.25 hrs…an SR71 pilot talking about flying the plane: LLESA Author Series | "Sled Driver: Flying the World's Fastest Jet" by Brian Shul - YouTube

I am an Air Force brat, my dad was stationed at Beale where the SR71 was stationed, and eat this kind of stuff up.

Keep on Spinning.

Cheers, thanks. I know of Brian Shul, I have his books:

He’s a great photographer too, something I also loved to do. I watched his RSO Walter Watson giving a presentation on the SR71, also interesting.

I did a lot of reading when I could. I’ve also met Richard McCrary through AIAA. He was incredibly interesting and very persuasive.

I found today I could drop the kickr bike down to get my leg over the top of it, then raise it back to correct height. This made riding much more comfortable.

I wish the auto braking in Zwift wouldn’t interrupt me, because I’m so slow if I dare stop pedalling then I stop immediately. Things will get better when I’m fully allowed to put more weight on the bad leg.

Yes, I’m following everything they tell me to do. I just cannot physically do much now so that prevents me pushing too much. I just tell myself that it will get better.

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So they have me doing physio, but because I’m so weak I managed to overdo some of those exercises.

However I’m okay on the kickr bike in Zwift once I get moving. Getting started is hard to overcome the initial big resistance.

I managed 25 minutes today. I am up to 17th ride. I can just hold comfortably about 2.0w/kg - which isn’t much watts because I’m still luckily very light.


Glad to read that things are going in the right direction for you, Chris. I can imagine you’re a little frustrated right now, but you’ll be ramping up the W/kg soon enough, I’m sure.

Things turned bad, actually it stopped healing for a while. So I stopped what little Zwift I was doing and tried using a ultrasound machine for a good 6 weeks. The only other activity was my physio sessions and exercises.

Then another set of scans, and at that point it has started to heal up now, progressive callus formation is happening. I can put up to 50% weight on the bad leg, but it’s a slow process.

At least it’s getting somewhere.


Forgive the thread resurrection- thought I’d give an update after a long time.

I started walking again around October/November, not very well but slowly started getting better, to the point I can walk quite well now (even 8-10km walks).

The bad news is that the left leg is shorter than the right one.

I have started riding a real bike again since mid March this year, that was very nerve wracking getting back but it’s getting there. I had another illness after that unfortunately which knocked my returning fitness badly, but it’s getting there again. I had to use a stack of shims on the left shoe to make up for the shorter left leg. I also moved the cleats forward.

I persisted with this and tried more riding to the point where I’m doing fairly regular 80-100km outdoor rides (they are easier and more comfortable than Zwift). But still feeling off with bike handling to be honest and left side strength was off.

I started doing some intensive strength exercises with a local physio place who seem to have a lot of knowledge in dealing with athletes - that has really helped. I got a plan to follow (with videos) that was more than just some old photocopies of some 1990s black and white print-outs. The improvement over a few weeks has been great. I’m still far from finished but enough that I’m going to take the bike over to France next week.


Another thread resurrection.

I’m now well back on the bike. I also rode Haute Route Alps 2023, carefully. Stinking hot conditions but thankfully not a drop of rain until the day I flew out.

The major issues is that the left side is still less strong, that leg is just not as powerful. It takes a lot of exercise and workouts to get it better and it’s also rather easy to overwork it, so then you have to ease off to let the muscles recover.

I have shims on my left shoe to cover the difference in leg length. I’ve adjusted to that.

I had to change saddles post HR Alps. I was getting pain in areas you shouldn’t get pain.

I am back on my S-Works Romin saddle again which is more comfortable than the old Beast Components carbon/leather saddle.

I love my old Cervelo S5 but it has been superseded and some components, particularly shims for the handlebars and spacers cannot be easily found these days so I had to just try and make do with tweaks to the fit. Luckily I’m still very lean.

I have been doing combinations of big French HC climbs in Fulgaz, Ventop on Zwift, lots of ADZ laps and workouts to drag the FTP up, this is now at 271w and 5 minute power almost 320w.

I am also commuting to work and back by bicycle some days when it isn’t cold or raining. This helps too, especially with my afternoon commute being a longer and hilly 55km route. Outside I don’t take chances, if it is wet I won’t ride outside and I don’t attack descents like I used to. It’s better to be safe.