A few days ago, it came to the attention of anyone following Kelly Slater on Instagram that he underwent hip surgery. He’s 51 years old now, and he’s spent the majority of his life smashing his body about in the waves collecting world titles, so it makes sense that he’d have a few injuries that require going under the knife to fix.
The news of the surgery came on the back of an Instagram post on September 9th, in which he asked his followers who they thought was going to win the women’s event. “On the couch post hip surgery watching the WSL Finals,” Slater wrote on top of an image of his laid up leg. It was, as far as I know, the first mention of the operation.
Slater has gone through a handful of relatively serious injuries — most notably the time he folded his foot in half — so he’s aware of what it’ll take to get himself back into shape in the next few months. But given the invasiveness of a hip surgery, I thought I’d get a hold of Kelly and ask him a few questions about what, exactly he needed fixed and what his road to recovery might look like.
As it turns out, Slater’s hip has been injured for quite a while now. In April of 2022, he wrecked it at Bells Beach, and it’s been bothering him since. The surgery was not a simple one, requiring quite a few fixes.
“[They did] a labrum reconstruction, removed scar tissue and bone spurs on femoral head, shaved the socket joint, and removed bone pieces and foreign objects floating in the joint,” he explained. “A significant surgery for sure.”
Now he’s looking at some serious time out of the water, but he’s got a plan in place to return to surfing as soon as he can.
“Three months out of water,” he told me. “I’ll throw everything I can at it to get back by winter. Rest first then PT and any dietary stuff I can do; lots of deep tissue massage once the labrum is settled and attached. Obviously if there are any protocols from PRP to stem cells I can do, I’ll look into that.”
Although he would like to get in the water as soon as possible, he’s aware of the importance of letting the body heal properly before putting any unnecessary stress on it. And he learned that through experience.
“The foot was possibly worse and kept me out longer overall,” he said, “but I also didn’t give that enough attention and time and still have issues with it.”
Fingers are crossed for a quick return to the waves and a speedy recovery for the champion, and so far, everything looks good. “Post op is looking positive, though,” he finished. “Everything how it should be.”