Triathlon Training After Joint Replacement
Based on the advice my wife Joy’s orthopedic doctor gave her after her first knee replacement, I believed that joint replacement meant the end of running.
However, when I spoke with Nikki Austin, I learned that joint replacement need not end your racing career.
Nikki’s orthopedic surgeon had encouraged her to continue swimming, biking, and even running after hip replacement. She followed the doctor’s advice. Nine months after hip replacement surgery, Nikki completed the 2021 Lititz recCenter Triathlon (Lititz, Pennsylvania).
A Triathlon Coach’s Perspective
Last month, a reader of SeniorTriathletes.com asked that we provide more information about training after hip replacement. She is eager to get back to racing, but also wants her new hips to last.
Jenn Reinhart, one of the Senior Triathletes coaches, and I spoke about triathlon after joint replacement. As you will hear in the recording of our conversation, Jenn speaks from experience. She is a senior triathlete and certified triathlon coach who has trained and raced after having both knees replaced.
Listen to what Jenn has learned and to her advice.
Additional Information from Jenn Reinhart
Here are links to the additional resources and products Jenn mentioned during our conversation:
- LEVER Movement
- AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill
- Marathon Handbook, a website dedicated to “helping others achieve their health and fitness goals”. This website includes articles specific to running after hip replacement and after knee replacement.
What I Read About Triathlon Training After Joint Replacement
In preparing for our conversation, both Jenn and I did research to learn what medical professionals think about a return to triathlon training after joint replacement surgery. Following is a summary of information I found. You may want to review these as part of your own research.
Concerns About Running After Hip or Knee Replacement
- An AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) post last reviewed in May 2022 included this statement, “Even though you will be able to resume most activities, you may want to avoid doing things that place excessive stress on your “new” knee, such as participating in high-impact activities like jumping, jogging, or skiing.”
- According to a review of research published in European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, this advice comes from concerns about premature failure of a prothesis. The amount of wear and tear depends on individual factors, such as body weight, strength of bone and muscle that support the joint, and the individual’s running technique.
Majority of Replacement Specialists Support a Return to Running . . . After Some Time
A survey of orthopedic surgeons from 31 countries shows that 68% of knee replacement specialists support their patients going back to running following a knee replacement after six months.
One of these is Stone Clinic in San Francisco, California. A post on their website titled Running After Knee Replacement includes the following statement:
“By advising patients to return gradually to running, we build bone density and muscle strength—thereby decreasing the risk of joint loosening. The plastic inserts now used are so durable that there is a very low likelihood of them wearing out. And if they do, they can be relatively easily replaced.”
Reducing the Risk of Running After Joint Replacement
Part of the reason there is controversy is that we are all different. There are things we can do that are risky and things which will reduce the risks. According to sports medicine specialist, Dr. John Hill (age 61),
“You can also take steps post-surgery to reduce the risks associated with running. Keep your weight in check, consider a gait analysis to identify and correct issues with your biomechanics, and ask your surgeon about regular X-rays to monitor the wear rate and positioning of your implant.”
My Conclusion – Joint Replacement Need Not Be The End
Assuming that your orthopedic doctor allows you to return to training, a professional triathlon coach will help you navigate your return to triathlon or other multi-sport endurance racing. This is true whether your next race is your first or a continuation of your multi-sport career.
It’s Time for Your Questions and Comments
What questions and comments do you have about training for triathlon or other multi-sport endurance sports after a joint replacement? Leave this in the Comments section below.
I would also appreciate hearing what you think about the audio-only format for the interview with Jenn Reinhart. Do you prefer audio or text?
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