It has now been 5 solid months since I had my hip labral repair surgery in November, and things are much better than they were a couple months ago. I have definitely turned the corner so to speak, and have been almost pain free for the last 2 weeks!
It felt like I would never get to this point, but here I am, and now it just all feels like surreal dream. The holding back, patience and diligence paid off and I am finally riding outside again and feeling stronger than ever. I was even able to complete 4 solid days of riding in the Agoura Hills with minimal problems, but more on that later. I will give an overview here of my progress/ capabilities at 4 months and at 5 months post-op.
What I could do at 4 months post-op:
- 5-6 km continuous running easy with focus on activating glutes
- 1 hour and 20 minutes riding on the trainer indoors
- Increased strength, physio exercises became easy
- Kicking in the pool without restriction while swimming (NOTE: no kick specific sets or hard kicking with fins)
- Threshold effort bike workouts with minor pain sometimes towards the end
Problems I had at 4 months post-op:
- Irritation when running too fast or long: inflammation in hip, snapping, hip flexor aggravation
- Tried to run 6 km a bit faster and had moderate pain the next day so took week 17 off of running completely
- Irritation when kicking too hard in the pool or using fins
- Tendency for surgery hip to weaken after runs (gluteus medius exercises needed regularly)
- Disappointment in running progress
I was nervous to ride outdoors and increase my time in the saddle by a lot, but I had already planned to attend an informal training week in Santa Barbara & the Agoura Hills. I did have some hip irritation after climbing Gibraltar Road the first day, and as a result had to take the next day off of riding.
I used “The stick” to roll out my quad and hip flexor muscles. This made a world of difference and I woke up the following day feeling no pain. I have since been using the stick religiously to roll out tender points in my quad and hip flexors on the affected side. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND using the stick and if you don’t have one order one now. This thing was magic for me. That, combined with the increasing strength I was gaining from using the glutes and leg muscles on the bike actually helped to reduce my pain throughout the week, and I was able to ride without any issues. I also have Zwift to thank for getting me prepared for outdoor riding.
What I could do at 5 months post-op:
- Long bike rides 3 hours + outdoors (actually at ~ 17 weeks)
- At 20 weeks post-op running 6-7 km with no pain (and a lot of stick rolling/ stretching)
- Long swims with kicking
- Yoga/ strength
- Feeling happy!
Problems I had at 5 months post-op:
- Some inflammation in the hip-flexor muscles due to overcompensation
- Gluteus muscles on affected side tend to get weak easily
- Tight muscles
- Some pain when kicking too much in the pool
- Still don’t have full range of motion in left hip
It feels great to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may sound cliché, but never give up. Just persist and it will pay off.
TIPS for progressing to running again:
- Run/walk to start out
- Don’t increase speed or mileage too quickly
- Lots of soft tissue mobilization for the tender spots on affected side
- Lots of glute strengthening exercises (ALL OF THESE ARE GREAT)
- Frequent stretching
- Know there will be some setbacks, rest & try again!
I am much more optimistic now about my chances of completing an Ironman race this year. I will probably wait another 2 weeks to see if I can increase run mileage a bit with no pain before I make any decisions on timing. Being able to ride outdoors again without restrictions has made a world of difference in my life. I forgot how much I love it and how much it makes me feel like me! Hang in there!