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Author Topic: A history of getting back to skiing.  (Read 10813 times)

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John C

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A history of getting back to skiing.
« on: September 16, 2012, 09:50:20 PM »
A fellow hippy sent me a PM about getting back into skiing. After I sent the reply, I thought that it might be worth sharing with others, so here is the reply that I sent:

"Glad to hear that you are planning on getting back into skiing. I am happy to share my experiences with it. To understand my perspective, here is a little background. I grew up ski racing, turned pro and competed at a national level in moguls and aerials, and have taught full time in Sun Valley for over 40 years, becoming the top private instructor teaching 8 hours a day for at least 150 days each season. In relation to your question, I am a very analytical skier, monitoring what is going on in almost every part of every turn, so I seldom ski instinctively anyway.
I skied with a bad hip for well over ten years, and can relate to everything you said; it would buckle on me, sharp pains, and I would often have to keep most of my weight on my good hip during both turns. Not good.
Resurfacing has been wonderful for me and skiing. Here is a short timeline of how it went:
The first day was a few days before opening of the season. I hiked up the mountain and felt strong all the way up. The first turn was a disaster. I went to put weight on my new hip, did not trust it, and careened all the way across the run with no control over that leg or ski. I stood there for a long time giving myself a pep talk, and proceeded to ski the rest of the way down the mountain without further incident, but not feeling that strong. For what its worth, I told this story to another pro who had his hip done, and despite his best intentions, he had the same experience on those first few turns.
Opening day was an epic powder day, and my six month anniversary from surgery. I started on the beginner hill, and the hip still did not feel that strong or confident, even though I had been working out hard to get ready. After a few runs, I felt more confident, and spent the rest of the day skiing powder and crud from the top, and feeling better all the time. There was no real pain, but lots of little twinges and strange sensations. I normally go heli-skiing in Canada every December, but I postponed it that year until the spring which would make it 10 months. I taught all season, but took a couple of hours off here and there for the first time in 25 years. I even took a whole day off a couple of times which I had not done in 40 years. That first year I felt pretty good except I was very uncomfortable landing even very small airs, and I stayed out of big bumps until the spring. Skating across the flats bothered my cut muscles for about two years. I also felt uncomfortable taking a big step down in ski boots because of the impact; no pain, just not trusting it.
Because I am always analyzing my skiing anyway, I was constantly aware of using the new hip, in terms of weight bearing, angulation, and rotary actions. It was not always easy for the first year or so, but always possible without joint pain issues. The big muscles like the quads came back pretty quick, but the smaller rotators were weak and a little sore and took some training, so I did lots of one legged training drills on the new hip.
Last year was my fourth year back, and I am delighted to say that the new hip is pain free. My only hang up is that I am still psychologically uncomfortable with any hard impacts, like accidentally landing a jump on the flats or on icy bumps. Unfortunately my other hip is starting to act up. It is still the stronger of the two muscle-wise, but is starting to be painful and lose range of motion.
I think that you will be very excited about how you will be able to enjoy skiing again. I also think that you are very wise to start of on some easy groomed slopes, and build your strength and confidence back. Strangely enough, I think that the stronger a skier that you are (i.e. lots of hip angulation and counter, with lots of g forces building up in carved turns), the longer it takes to feel 100% again. High speed runs through big bumps involving lots of impact may or may not be a good idea. Though I used to make a living doing it, I do not see myself doing that again. I still ski bumps, just much more slowly and smoothly. I save the speed for groomers and crud.
Best of luck!"
John/ Left uncemented Biomet/ Dr Gross/ 6-16-08
Right uncemented Biomet/Dr Gross/ 4/25/18

sdunn4

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 11:47:33 PM »
Thanks John.  This is great info and the timing is good.  I skipped all last season on the slopes as my resurfacing was in late October.  I have been slalom waterskiing nearly 20 times this summer and had some of the "strange twinges" you describe.  I am really looking forward to downhill skiing again this winter!

Steve
52 YO Rt Hip Biomet Dr. Gross, 10/24/11

stephen1254

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 02:49:00 PM »
John's story was one of the first I read on this site, and I was thrilled to read about someone who skied all day every day on a resurfaced hip. I will be roughly 8 months post-op on opening day, and I'm looking at first chair!
RBHR Dr. Callander 3/27/12

phillwad

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 04:53:38 PM »
John - thanks for sharing the steps and giving us the confidence to get out and be better

stephen1254

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2012, 03:48:29 PM »
The snow is falling in Lake Tahoe right now and we are just one week away from opening day! I've been working the Skier's Edge and the slide board regularly, and I feel ready to tackle the slopes - with any luck we will get some real slopes open next week!

Of course before I do anything I need to clear enough snow to get the car out of the garage. That isn't a chore though - I've been looking forward to doing that for some time now!
RBHR Dr. Callander 3/27/12

Tin Soldier

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2012, 10:11:11 PM »
Lucky.  I think we'll be lucky to get much in the Cascades this year.  I just read John's post and I like it, inspiring.  I used to ski race in HS at Mt Hood, heavy wet snow with not a lot of slope.  I think some of my OA was related to jumping off crap with bad landings, classic youth stuff, not well thought out.  I went skiiing for the first time last year, it was a little early in recovery for the second hip and I think it was noticeable.  I felt like there wasn't much spring, but I also wanted to jump off everything, again classic youth sort of thing even at age 42.  It all worked out, but I would add to this discussion in that I think the dryland training ahead of time is extremely important.  I didn't do much before I went.  I think now, or this year, if I go, it will be different because I now play soccer once a week, do a little running here and there and generally my legs and hips are just that much stronger. 

Let it snow.     
LBHR 2/22/11, RBHR 8/23/11 - Pritchett.

stephen1254

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2012, 10:35:56 PM »
Update - I've put 5 days in so far this season and I haven't even thought about my hip after the first few turns on the first day. No issues at all other than I've found myself crossing my tips quite a bit, something I haven't done for years. I noticed when I began running that the foot on my operated leg pointed forward, like it was supposed to, instead of splayed out to the side, like it was pre-operation. I suspect that over the years I've been compensating for that, so now I have to pay a little more attention to my form. That's hardly a complaint though - I absolutely feel like a kid again on the slopes. I feel no difference in strength side to side and no fatigue or soreness at all when I'm done. Unfortunately we've skied off pretty much all the early season snow we had, so we need another storm or two to fill things in. Still, it's good practice dodging all the rocks and bare spots!
RBHR Dr. Callander 3/27/12

Jason0411

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 01:51:12 PM »
Bare spots, that brings back memories, that wonderful feeling you get when one ski hits a bare spot and the other is running in nice smoothed down snow. You instantly know you are going down and can do nothing about it.

Teaches to you to look where you are skiing though.

Jas
RBHR Mr McMinn 6th December 2011.
Tripped and crushed head under cap 31st January 2012.
Self repairing.

fenceman

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 08:55:58 PM »
Stephen,
I also noticed that my op leg was straight again instead of flaring out to the side after surgery.  4 years later my non-op leg is doing the same thing. Have a great time on the slopes.
L-BHR - Aug 2008 - Dr. Brooks  Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
R-BHR - Dec 2012 - Dr. Brooks  Cleveland Clinic Euclid Hospital
L-BHR Revision Nov 2017 - Dr. Brooks Euclid

John C

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2012, 01:11:21 AM »
Hi Stephan,
Wonderful to hear that your return to skiing has been a great success. Based on my own experience, I have two theories on the tip crossing issue.
During the surgery, the internal rotators (the muscles that would steer your skis towards each other) are not touched, but the external rotators (the ones that rotate your tips away from each other) are cut or at least messed with to some degree. I think that is one reason that post surgery we find our feet more toed in, along with our ski tips, at least until the external rotators are back to 100%.
The other issue is that one of the things we lose in an arthritic joint is the ability to flex and internally rotate the leg, which is a real bummer for skiers, since this is exactly what we are trying to do with the dominant outside ski. When the arthritis is gone after a resurfacing, the rediscovered ability to internally rotate the leg without impingement can go farther than our body expects until it learns to adjust.
I too found that my new hip would over turn sometimes when I first got back on skis, causing it to want to run into the tip of the other ski, but the problem corrected in the first couple of months, as I am sure yours will.
John/ Left uncemented Biomet/ Dr Gross/ 6-16-08
Right uncemented Biomet/Dr Gross/ 4/25/18

Denver_wrench

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2012, 09:18:12 PM »
John, you've been a great inspiration and help to me, thanks. Now that I've actually gotten on the boards things seem to be better than expected, only slightly goofy at first but really like getting back on a bicycle. The only thing I've noticed is some weekness in what I assume to be the flexors in both hips, e.g. when I try to ski on one ski it's way more difficult than it used to be-especially on the operated leg. I think some conditioning will fix that. But overall, brilliant. Of course, we've only got a foot and a half of manmade, but that may be a blessing in disguise as I'm not tempted to overdo it and haven't really even gotten sore.
LBHR June 9, 2011, St. Joseph's, Denver, CO

John C

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2012, 03:13:35 AM »
Hi Denver,
Thanks for the kind words. You are so right about it being harder to ski on one leg when you are first coming back from the surgery. I ran into this myself, and with all of my hip replacement and resurfacing students. I don't think that it is the hip flexors. I think that it is more the lateral stabilizers (abductors) which control hip angulation, and the external rotators which are responsible for keeping us in the "hip countered" position necessary for angulation and holding an edge. For both myself and all of my hippy students, I do a lot of one legged ski exercises. Start with long traverse exercises all the way across the run on the down hill leg with the uphill ski well off the snow. After repeating this a few times both directions, then try it on the uphill leg (tougher). Make sure that you are holding a clean edge all the way across (check your track in the snow to make sure that their is no sideslipping or skidding). Your main focus should be on hip angulation and hip counter to control the edge, rather than just knee angulation. Then link some  turns balancing totally on the outside leg with the inside ski well off the snow. From here a good exercise is to completely lift up one ski and then the other four or five times as you progress around one turn. When you can do this one, and leave only deep clean trenches alternating from the outside ski to the inside ski, you have some serious skills. Lastly, on flatter areas like cat tracks or run outs, practice doing a long series of turns balancing on the same leg, big toe edge to little toe edge. Once again, bonus points for leaving a single clean edge trench.
Glad to hear that you are happily back on the slopes. We are having some of the best early season powder in the past 20 years, with another foot coming tomorrow. Woohoo!!
John/ Left uncemented Biomet/ Dr Gross/ 6-16-08
Right uncemented Biomet/Dr Gross/ 4/25/18

Denver_wrench

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 12:57:14 AM »
We finally got some powder...knee deep last week at the Jane, and that will certainly show you where all the muscles are-I felt the cut quad for the first time in a while but really more of a good pain. Big soft bumps are fine, but I am also getting squeamish about impacts; I had assumed since I no longer have a labrum it can be a solid shock to the spine if your leg is extended. I take it as a warning from the universe and will try to pay more attention to form rather than speed on the bumps. I'll try the stabilization exercises, too, sounds like just what i need. Now that I've done some real skiing though, I'm pretty happy with it.
LBHR June 9, 2011, St. Joseph's, Denver, CO

stephen1254

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Re: A history of getting back to skiing.
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2013, 04:54:29 PM »
At mid-January I've lost track of the number of days we've skied, but it's a bunch. New skis for this year and I'm skiing lines I've never skied before and could never imagine skiing before.

And how's this for a glittering endorsement of resurfacing: I am left handed and left footed. On those days where you haven't chosen a line down the hill and you are just meandering along I would invariably, in the past, hold a right turn and head to the right side of a run searching out better snow - my left leg was always the strongest.

I just realized this last Wednesday that I am now, invariably, holding a left turn and heading to the left side of a run - on the operated leg. Going down a bump run I'm going more to the left when I'm working out a line. It's not a conscious thing - I just realized it - but I feel stronger on the right side then the left. There is nothing wrong with my left hip - not yet anyways - but I am guessing that I've spent so much time working on the strength of my operated leg that I've come to favor it.
RBHR Dr. Callander 3/27/12

 

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