hip replacement orthopedic surgery

Getting Back On Your Feet After A Hip Replacement

Christie Auyeung Orthopedic Surgery Leave a Comment

Hip replacement surgery can bring you mobility and independence after years of suffering from an arthritic hip— but recovery takes time. During the first few weeks after surgery, getting adequate rest and managing your pain are critical to successful recovery. Light exercise and physical therapy are also important for the long-term success of your surgery.

Why exercise after hip replacement surgery?

After surgery, exercising is probably the last thing you want to do. But light exercise is crucial to preventing blood clots. It also increases the strength and flexibility in your new hip. You will be able to resume normal activities sooner if you exercise just a little each day.

Start by Walking

While in the hospital after surgery, you’ll be able to put some weight on your new hip. After the nurses teach you how to get in and out of bed and show you how much weight you can put on your hip, you can start your post-operation exercise routine with walking using a walker or crutches. Start small and take breaks – as you gain muscle strength and endurance, you’ll gradually be able to walk for longer durations. Ideally, walk around your home at least three to five times each day. 

Keep Practicing at Home

Before you return home, your surgeon will give you illustrated guides for exercises you can do at home for the next few weeks. Commit to doing the exercises two to three times a day, but make sure not to overdo it. If you feel pain or notice additional swelling, listen to your body and ease up. Be careful to avoid any exercises that could dislocate your new hip joint.

Below are some exercises that can help improve your recovery after hip replacement surgery, which can be done while lying on your back:

  • Ankle Pumps: Start with your toes pointing up. Then, bend your ankle so your toes point towards your head. Then bend your ankles down so your toes point away from you.
  • Thigh Squeezes: Push the back of your knee down into the bed, tightening your quads, the muscles in the front of your thigh. Hold for five seconds, then relax.
  • Buttock Squeezes: Squeeze your buttocks together, hold for five seconds, then relax.
  • Heel Slides: Slide your heel up towards your buttocks, bending your knee upwards. Then slide your heel back down.
  • Lying Kicks: Roll up a blanket and put it under your knee. Then straighten your knee, with the back of your knee staying in contact with the blanket. Hold for five seconds, then relax.

You can also check out illustrations of the above exercises and more here, and an instructional video of exercises here.

You’ll have good days and bad days while you recover from surgery, but eventually, you’ll be able to do more activity with less pain. Just remember that it will pay off: staying committed to being active during the critical weeks after surgery will help speed up your recovery in the long run.

Interested in learning more about hip replacement surgery and recovery? Contact one of our surgeons today!

Christie is a UChicago grad currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she enjoys tap dancing, learning to windsurf, and trying new foods.