So, you’ve just had a hip replacement, now what? Well, first of all, hip, hip, hooray! This is a time to celebrate your newfound hips and groove. Since its beginnings in the 1960’s, hip replacements have become a quite common procedure, and their safety has increased significantly. However, the ultimate success of your hip replacement lies in the recovery process and what you do afterwards.
Many patients of hip replacement procedures are able to walk within the same day or the next day. The majority of people are able to resume normal activities within the first three to six weeks after the surgery.
The exercises in this article should be followed so that you are able to regain your strength, get your ability to do a range of motion, reduce symptoms you had prior to surgery and to overall aid yourself in the recovery process following your hip replacement surgery. If at any point these exercises produce sharp, shooting, stabbing pains, stop them immediately and consult a physician or physical therapist.
Exercises to do after hip replacement: The first 6 weeks
After surgery, your goal should be to strengthen your hips and the muscles surrounding it, improve your balance and to be able to walk without the use of an assistive device.
Most of these exercises can be done while lying on your bed.
Here are the following exercises you can do:
This basic exercise improves circulation.
Lie on your back. Very gently and slowly pump your foot up and down. Repeat this movement 10 times on each leg (this is considered one set).
Do one set of this per hour that you are awake. Continue for six weeks or until you are able to return to your normal level of activity.
This easy exercise also improves circulation.
Lie on your bed on your back and keep your legs straight. Place a rolled up towel (hand towel size) under your knee. Using your thigh muscles, push your knee down into the bed. Be careful to not hold your breath whilst doing this.
Repeat 10 times per leg (this is considered one set). Do two sets a day.
This exercise improves circulation.
Lie on your back with your legs straight. Squeeze your buttocks together to tighten your buttock muscles. Hold for five seconds, then relax. When you’re doing this on a firm surface, you should see your hips come up.
This exercise is also done whilst lying on the bed.
Place your body towards one side of the bed to give yourself adequate room to move. Slide one leg out to the side as far and as comfortably as possible, then slide it back again together with your other leg. Make sure that both your knee and your leg are pointing towards the ceiling, and not rotating to the side. Keep a nice steady pace.
Repeat 10 times per leg.
While still lying on a bed, slide one leg up, bending your knee, as far as the heel would go towards your buttocks comfortably. Hold for five seconds, then slowly slide your heel back down. If there’s too much friction from your feet and the bed, feel free to either wear socks or slip a towel or a piece of cardboard underneath your legs.
Repeat this movement 10 times per leg.
Exercises after hip replacement: 6-12 weeks after surgery
During this time, it is important to put your focus on more advanced therapy goals. These include regaining full strength around your hips, improving your endurance and being able to fully and independently function at home with tasks such as, but not limited to, getting dressed and going up and down a flight of stairs.
These should be done three to four times per week, or ideally every other day. Start with one set of 8-15 repetitions and eventually progress to three sets of 8-15 repetitions.
The following exercises are recommended for patients who have already had their first check up with their physician or physical therapist post-surgery. Again, a word of caution: At any point, if these exercises produce sharp, shooting, stabbing pains, stop them immediately and consult your physician or physical therapist.
On your bed, lie on your back with your knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks and lift the buttocks off the bed.
For a more progressed exercise: With both feet planted on the bed, lift your buttocks off the bed. Once the buttocks are up, lift your non-operated leg up by an inch. Keep this leg up as you slowly lower your buttocks back to the bed.
You will need a chair or a table for this exercise.
Stand in front of a chair or sink and keep an equal weight on both feet. Keep your toes pointing forward. Slowly bend your knees, sticking your bottom out. With control, slowly lower your bottom. If using a chair, lower all the way down into a sitting position.
Be careful not to have your knees go ahead of your toes.
This exercise is crucial in strengthening your hips. You will need a resistance band for this exercise.
Tie or loop a resistance band just above your knee — you need to bring your feet together to do this. Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Stick your bottom out as if you are about to sit down. Be careful not to allow your knees to go ahead of your toes. Press your thighs apart, feeling the tension of the band increase. While maintaining this squat position, take a few steps in one direction to your side, and then take a side step back to the opposite direction.
Single leg balance
This exercise is done while standing. If needed, hold on to a table counter or chair. Balance on your operated leg carefully. Squeeze your buttocks together and make sure to keep your hips level. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat this process three times.
Marching in place
For this exercise, bend your hip and lift your knee towards your chest. Lower this knee down, and then lift up your other knee to your chest. Continue alternating legs — just as if you are marching in place. Keep your back straight and make sure you are not rocking side to side. Hold on to a counter table or chair for support if necessary.
Tip: this is best done while in front of a mirror so you can monitor your position and balance.
3-6 months after hip replacement surgery
When you visit your physician for a post-surgery check-up after three months, they will normally advise you when you can resume complete or regular athletic activities. It is a case-to-case basis, but total hip replacement patients normally are able to return to certain sports activities three or six months after surgery.
What’s important is to keep yourself consistently mobile, maintain a healthy weight and keep an active lifestyle. You’ll be able to enjoy a healthy and hip lifestyle!
Have you recently had hip replacement surgery? Are you looking for exercise suggestions post-surgery? Feel free to have a chat with us about your experience or if you have any questions!