Knee Replacement and Cycling?

By Marilyn Trout | 03/16/12
Knee Replacement and Cycling?

Larry Page, “My right knee” July 17, 2007 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

We’ve teamed up with Marilyn Trout, certified USA Cycling Elite Coach to answer Voler Newsletter List members’ training questions. You can view her coach profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mountainpedalscoaching80903 Send your cycling inquiries to Marilyn, and for a limited time, if yours is selected to be answered in our Training column, Voler will send you a $20 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase from the Voler Store at http://www.voler.com. To submit your inquiry, e-mail her at Marilyn@MountainPedals.net, and type “Voler Training Question” in the subject line of the e-mail.

The following tip is a reprint of an August 2009 question submitted by Voler E-Mail List member Larry Olinick:

Knee Replacement and Cycling?

Marilyn,

My knees aren't what they used to be and a replacement may be in my future. Is it possible to train and compete at a high level, fast tours and the occasional time trial, after a total knee replacement?

Thank you,
Larry

Larry,

Give each one of us a few years and sooner or later wear and tear will rear its ugly head. Reminds me of a country western song, "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good, once, as I ever was." Sorry to hear that your knees have seen better days and, no doubt, experiencing some severe pain.

I will make the assumption that you have already been participating in fast tours and time trials as opposed to just starting to get a little more serious about your riding now that new knees are in order. I will also precede my training advice by saying that I am a cycling coach and not an orthopaedic surgeon. So before any customized training plan is drawn up, I factor in the medical advice given by my athlete's healthcare team. Once these medical parameters are given to us, then, as far as I'm concerned, the sky is the limit.

I believe the answer to your question is "yes." From my experience, other athletes who have had joint replacements have returned to the athletic lifestyle they enjoyed before the surgery. Saying this, however, it became obvious that a little more care and calculation was taken with their risk-taking adventures.

As with anything, if you can find a doctor who is sympathetic to your active lifestyle and cycling ambitions, you will accelerate your rehabilitation. Here's some advice from a cyclist who underwent knee replacement,

"You must be an active participant in the decision-making process. Find a doctor who empowers you to do your own research, ask questions, and talk to other patients. It really helps you to have the right mindset going into surgery and rehabilitation."

We are fortunate to be involved in a sport like cycling that is considered a knee-friendly activity for rehabilitation of many injuries and surgeries, including knee replacements. As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. The performance of the new joint depends on weight, activity level, age, and other factors.

All the best,
Marilyn

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