Hip replacement surgery is an opportunity for a fresh start. Until now, you’ve probably suffered unending pain and weakness that has inhibited you from doing every-day activities. Even putting on your shoes may have been nearly impossible. You probably can’t wait to get back to your favorite activities after your total hip replacement surgery. With proper care, your hip will last you for many years. It is recommended to avoid high-impact sports following total hip replacement surgery, as these activities speed up the wear and tear on your hip, and may cause your hip to loosen and become painful. Low-impact sports like yoga, stretching, walking, swimming, hiking, biking, and dancing are your best bet for a long-lasting hip. These ten exercises will help to get you back on your feet and feeling great after your surgery. Talk to your doctor to see how long after surgery you are allowed to resume normal physical activity.
Adduction strengthening exercise
This exercise is for the first few weeks post-surgery. It is a strengthening exercise for the legs and can be done on a mat or a bed. All you need is a ball. In a seated position on your mat, with your legs outstretched, slightly bend your knees and place a ball (the size of a basketball or soccer ball) between your knees. Squeeze your knees together, against the ball and hold for 3-5 seconds and relax. Repeat ten times.
Abduction strengthening exercise
After you have completed the adduction exercises with the ball, it’s time to do some abduction work. In the same seated position as before, take a belt or a strap (something that does not have any give), and tie it around your thighs so that there is some room to move. Push your thighs outward into the belt with both legs and hold for 3-5 seconds, then relax. Repeat ten times.
Point and flex
This exercise is ideal for the first six weeks following surgery. It’s important to keep your muscles moving—stretching and contracting—to stay healthy and limber. In a seated position on a mat or your bed, bend the unaffected leg, keeping the affected leg outstretched. With the foot of the outstretched leg, point your toe, and then flex your foot, imagining that there’s a string pulling your big toe toward your chest. Repeat for two minutes, pointing and flexing intermittently.
Another exercise for the first six weeks of recovery, this movement engages the hip, preparing it for bigger movements that will come in later stages of recovery. Find a chair or a surface to hold onto that is at the height of your hip. If your right leg is the operative leg, place the chair on your left side and hold onto it with your left hand. Place your right hand on your hip and slowly bring your right knee toward your chest as you bend your knee until your thigh and calf form a 90-degree angle, and your thigh is parallel with the ground. Repeat eight times.
This exercise is perfect as you pass the 6-week mark of recovery and begin to move a little more. This exercise engages your leg muscles for strength training so that you can resume physical activity stronger and healthier than before. Find a chair or table at the height of your hips, and hold on with both hands for stability. Gently bend your knees so that you enter a moderate squat—but don’t push yourself too far. Straighten your legs and repeat eight times.
This exercise can be done after the 6-week recovery mark. It combines strength training for the core and the legs—and of course, it works the hips. Lying face up on your mat, bend your knees to a 45-degree angle and place your feet flat on the floor, your arms by your sides. Engaging your core and glutes, slowly raise your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Then, slowly lower your hips back down onto the mat. Repeat eight times.
Modified Donkey Kickbacks
From 12 weeks post-surgery, you’re just about ready to take on the world. If you don’t feel quite ready yet—that’s ok too. This exercise is performed on the mat, and it’s a strength-training exercise for your core, glutes, and legs. Take it slow and easy, and if you feel any pain, stop and consult your doctor. Position yourself on all fours on the mat with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Keeping your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Pause, and bring your knee back to the mat. Repeat eight times with one leg, and then switch to the other leg.
Single Leg Lifts
This exercise is recommended for 12+ weeks post-op. It will no doubt be more difficult on your operative leg—but the goal is to strengthen, so keep at it. Lying on your back on a mat, bend your left leg so that your foot is flat on the floor, keeping your right leg outstretched. Slowly lift your right leg in the air to the height of your left knee. Pause, then lower the leg to the floor. Repeat 10 times on one side, then switch and perform ten times on the other side.