Anyone rowing with a hip replacement?

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Chrissie Muir, from Rock, has been in touch. She might need a hip replacement but is concerned that this will put a stop to her gig rowing.

Is there anyone out there who has had such an operation and found they can or can’t get back to rowing? Please leave a message below if you can help.

Here’s Chrissie’s message:

Hi there

I wonder if it is possible to put a message out to other rowers to see who has continued rowing after a hip replacement and find out what their experience has been?  Can they row to the same level?  Have they had any problems with dislocations? etc
I have just started rowing again after a three-year gap (after rowing for 12 years with just an 18-month gap to recover from breast cancer) but have been told by the hip surgeon that rowing on a new hip is not recommended at all because of the risk of dislocation and general problems that would cause down the line.
I haven’t got the new hip yet – going to try and see if the old one will hold out long enough to get me to the Scillies next year! (Just turned 50, by the way.)
Thanks in advance
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16 Comments on "Anyone rowing with a hip replacement?"

  1. Tim Cowan

    Hey Chrissie- On the contrary, you will enjoy rowing more once your hip is replaced (and you’ve gone through rehab period)! I had a total hip replacement in mid October 2015 and was walking to the bakery within 3 days. I was in a gig race again the following March (about 5 months). By summertime, with my new hip, I was much happier at getting in and out of a boat and stepping over seats and gunwales. I led a team from the US to the St Ayles Skiiff Worlds in Northern Ireland the following July. In the winter-time I like to do cross-country skiing. This winter I will enter a number of master (age-group) ski races again. With my new hip I am more comfortable again at snow-plowing and skating on skis, the maneuvers that splay my hips the most.

    If you can, choose a doc who is interested in sport. Fortunately, here in the States many of our orthopedic surgeons specialize in “sports medicine” – so they are more encouraging to us older sports-people. Also – plan on following any post-surgery healing and physical therapy instructions rigorously. Concentrate on flexibility and strengthening the stabilizer muscles around the hip. Have a physical therapist show you the right exercises – and have them watch you do them occasionally.

    Perhaps you’ll sit out a season, or part of one, but if hip pain is giving you trouble sleeping or stepping over things – get it fixed!

    Best of luck! Let me know if you need any encouragement or advice.
    Yours in rowing.
    Tim Cowan
    Vergennes, VT USA

    • Chrissie Muir

      Hi Tim
      Thanks very much for taking the time to write such an informative and encouraging message. Yes, I’m aware of the benefit of being disciplined with physio as I had surgery ten years ago, after which I could only move my left arm a couple of inches, but managed to get full movement back in time. The air was quite blue initially though as it hurt so much to do the exercises!
      My other main sport is road cycling and I’ve been given the go ahead to carry on with that. Really good to hear from so many of you that you are still leading such sporty, active lives after the replacement. It has cheered me up no end as I had been told by the surgeon to ‘mourn my past active life.’
      Thanks again

    • Yvette Perry

      Thank you for your advice. i am getting a Total Hip Replacement next month and I want to start rowing for exercise. I am now encouraged.

  2. Scott Craw

    If your doctor has suggested hip surgery you are probably suffering with considerable pain. That is no way to live, (been there, done that.)
    Talk to your doctor about anterior hip replacement. It is a less invasive surgery and shorter recovery.
    You will have to work to restrengthen the muscles in way of the operation. That will take time but I am rowing with a hip replacement. And, without pain!

    • Chrissie Muir

      Hi Scott
      Thanks for your input. I hadn’t heard of anterior hip surgery before you mentioned it. Sounds interesting, particularly if it reduces the risk of dislocation afterwards. Were you offered it or did you have to ask for it?

  3. Keith Cornish

    Hi Chrissie
    I fully endorse the positive comments of our fellow gig rowers.
    I had a hip replacement 6 years ago (2011). At the time I was playing a lot of badminton and squash amongst other activities. These sports and running are obviously not an option for me to keep fit now but……in 2014, Exmouth (Devon), where I live, got it’s own gig club. I had never rowed in a gig before but have been rowing since 2014 and have not looked back since.
    Like you, I will be at this year’s WPGC (my 3rd year). In fact, we have got to know 2 of your members who have stayed in the flat next to us at Harbour Lights during the event over the past 2 years.
    Have the operation, become pain free, rehab. properly and carry on enjoying your rowing for years to come. Just be careful how you get in and out of the gig, especially at the start of your ‘comeback’!
    Look forward to seeing you at the WPGC. We’ll meet up for a beer and you can ‘pick my brains’ then!

    p.s. I’ll be 68 this year and have just rowed 1million metres on the Concept in the past 12 months! If I can row, then so can you with your new hip!

    Best wishes.


    • Chrissie Muir

      Hi Keith

      Thanks for leaving your message and good to hear you have met some of the Rockites. It all sounds very encouraging. Having read everyone’s comments, it’s become clear that my surgeon was playing it very safe when he strongly advised me to stop rowing. I was hoping that might be the case, but wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth, which is why I contacted gigrower. Really glad to hear rowing is working out so well for you and look forward to seeing you for that beer in Scilly!



  4. Sandie

    Hi I had a total hip replacement 11 weeks ago. The consultant looked very doubtful when I asked him about rowing again (I row in St Ayles skiffs – Scottish Coastal Rowing) but I think that he just doesn’t know. I have been on a Concept 2 a couple of times in the last week and am planning to get out on the skiff the first calm day to give it a go. My leg doesn’t go much more than 90 degrees yet but with the stretch of the body I think that I am going to be at least as good as I was before (but without the pain) but am hopeful for better. Will report back

    • Chrissie Muir

      Hi Sandie
      Thanks for commenting on the thread. Sounds like you are making good progress, which is encouraging to hear. (Just googled St Ayles skiffs! Not that dissimilar-looking to ones we row but the kit looks very different and I’m guessing you row with both hands on top of the oar?) There is potentially a lot more strain on the body if the boat is unstable isn’t there in smaller boats and more risk of dislocation? You’re obviously confident to try it though. Will be interested to hear your progress reports! Cheers, Chrissie

  5. Jenny smith

    My new hip is a grand one week old,l was told that getting back in the boat was fine.Struggled through the on and off water training all last season.Just made it through the last two races on scilly,became much worse after giving up the gigging.Blamed the many years of rowing bow side the reason for the pain,in fact it was the complete opposite,l should of been in front of the consultant in my twenties.just something l was born with.I am still only days in and l don’t feel much like a Nut Rock Down,but if you are in pain like l was you need it doing anyway.Good Luck.Jenny Smith Devoran Gig Club.

    • Chrissie Muir

      Hi Jenny
      Thanks for your message. Sounds like you struggled on a good while before having the op. Yeah, I was told mine is congenital too – malformation in my case. Mind you, I don’t think there was much preventive treatment around more than ten years ago. (Don’t know how old you are, mind!) Hope your rehab goes well. Cheers for now, Chrissie

  6. Martin beaumont

    Hi Chrissie. I am 4 days out of a thr. Still sore obviously. Understatement! I am 46 and needed one due to unexplained impacts over the years. Rugby. Falling off a horse etc. I am also planning on rowing the atlantic in the race in Dec 19. The comments here are very encouraging. Although a newbie compared to the authors on here my advice would be talk to your surgeon up front. Tell what your expectations are afterwards. My guy. Giles stafford. Does lots of sports people and so even had me do pre op x rays in a rowing position so he could get the best set up. Clearly its too early to say if it will actually work as i hope but early discussons are the way forward. If you have a surgeon who isnt sure i would try and find a sports orientated one and then they can even choose larger size heads etc. Good luck and best wishes martin beaumont

  7. Nicci Hastings

    Hi Chrissie
    Have you had your op yet? I’m 6 weeks post op today & doing ok. Really looking forward to getting back in the boat asap. Had to forego Scillies this year (first time in 14 yrs I’ve mussed it) as getting in/out the boat became to painful. When I mentioned my love of gig rowing prior to the op, the consultant & Physio agreed it wouldn’t be a problem at all to continue after the op. Seeing the physio Monday to discuss ergo training. I’ve had an infection in my wound for 3 weeks but still well ahead of rehab & doing exercises everyday. Hope your op has been/will be successful. Let us know your progress.
    The other comments on here have been very helpful & positive so thanks to you all. Happy rowing
    Nicci (Caradon)

  8. Sue Fenton

    This discussion has been most helpful and encouraging, thanks all!
    I am in Scotland, rowing a St Ayles skiff nowadays, and anterior procedures are not offered here on the NHS. A choice of 28 or 32 mm head (?) is made by the surgeon himself but nothing bigger as they tend to wear more quickly apparently. My surgeon was adamant that it was best to stick with what he had more practice in!
    I already row with a knee transplant and am getting my new hip tomorrow, missing Castle to Crane this coming Saturday, sadly! Can’t wait to get out in the skiff again …

  9. Paul hawtin


    I had an bad accident which required a full hip replacement in 2015 (38 years old).

    I wondered if anyone had any advice on using a rowing machine. I am cycling fine now, but being an ex runner I’m trying to find other ways to keep fit. On the face of it, rowing machine seems fine to me. However, like others my surgeon was a bit reluctant which put me off

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