Q&A: recovering from a hip replacement

Turbo training

My dad is recovering from a total hip replacement. He is worried he will not be able to cycle as far or as often as before the operation.

He had the operation about six weeks ago and has been told that he can resume normal activities like walking, bending down, etc. He has been stretching and completing the exercises that are part of his rehabilitation process, but is unsure when he will be able to start cycling again or if he will regain his full range of movement.

Before he had the operation, he rode 150-250 miles a week, but the initial steps of getting back on his bike are a little daunting. Are there any exercises he could be doing to help with his recovery and help get him back on the bike? He has access to both a turbo trainer and rollers at home, though he is concerned about getting on/off.

Any help you can provide would be great.


As an active person, your dad will probably experience full recovery in a shorter time than would a sedentary person.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommend cycling on a level surface as a good recovery exercise once the patient has resumed normal activities, but there are a some cautionary factors to be considered first:

 1. Don't bring your knee up higher than your hip (swing your leg over the back of the bike and ensure saddle height is correct, and especially not too low).

 2. Don't lean forward while sitting, or as you sit down (the bike will need to be adapted so the handlebars are high and close enough, to ensure the back is straight and upright).

 3. Keep feet facing straight forward and not excessively turned inward or outward (check cleat position, just in case).

Although rollers will be a great asset once your father has reached full recovery, for the initial return to cycling, the turbo trainer is recommended. He may need a raised platform to help with mounting and dismounting, and some modifications to the bike to ensure he isn't bending too far forwards or placing excessive load on the hips.

He should start with the easiest gear/resistance, keeping the initial sessions to just 10-15 minutes, gradually building up the volume as he recovers, until he is able to cycle for an hour in a gear that gives a comfortable 90-100rpm cadence.

Once his rehabilitation is complete, he can begin flexibility exercises to regain his optimal bike position. Please wish him the very best of luck with his recovery, and happy cycling for the future.

Rob Mortlock is a BC coach

This article was first published in the December 19 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!

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