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Can You Go Skiing After a Knee Replacement?

Man with skis

A total knee replacement can be a life-changing surgery. Many people who previously had little to no mobility and a good deal of pain find that they are now able to move and function with much less pain for the first time in a long time. However, many of those who go through a total knee replacement wonder just what kinds of things they are able to do with a new knee, including whether or not they can go skiing.

If you have had your knee replaced and want to ski, there are a few things to consider.

What Is Your Experience Level?

Most doctors, including Lucas Anderson, MD, have no problem with experienced skiers getting back on the slopes. "I tell people they should not try to learn how to ski after a full replacement," says Anderson, "but people who have skied and know what they are doing are fine to ski."

The only restrictions that doctors place on physical activity usually involve prolonged running, but other activities, including skiing, waterskiing, and racquetball, are okay.

Don't Take Risks

While it may be okay for you to ski after a full knee replacement, this does not mean you can do everything you could before. Anderson suggests, "You should pick your days and pick your terrain. Soft powder is recommended over icy conditions. The risk is for someone to slide into a tree or other obstacle and fracture the bone around their new knee, which can cause all sorts of problems."

Take Your Time

If you have just undergone a full knee replacement, you should know that there will be some recovery time, even if you went home the same day as your surgery. Typically, a patient will need the use of a walker or crutches for a few days, a cane for a few weeks, and will find themselves walking unaided in about two or three weeks.

After another six weeks of physical therapy, you still have a while before you should consider skiing. Dry land training can help you gain adequate balance and strength for skiing. The minimum amount of time you should wait to ski after knee replacement surgery is three months and at that point you should start on groomers for an hour or two at a time to build up endurance.

Getting a new knee doesn't mean you can't do the things you love. With some time, planning, and know-how, you can get back on the slopes.