To achieve full recovery after a hip replacement it is vital that you incorporate regular exercise into your life. Regular post-operative exercise will allow you to return to your everyday activities within 3-6 weeks after surgery; and return to driving at six weeks. These exercises are geared to restoring your blood flow, strength and mobility. Moving forward it is important to gradually increase walking, sitting, standing, and climbing stairs.
Your orthopedic surgeon will work with your physical therapist to create a plan for you.
During early recovery, while you are in the hospital, you will begin to walk short distances in your room to help your hip to regain its strength and movement.
Post- operative exercise
Walking is the best exercise for a healthy recovery, because walking will help you recover hip movement. Initially, the use of a walker or crutches will help to prevent blood clots and strengthen your muscles which will improve hip movement. To ensure you are walking properly you will receive guidance from your surgeon or therapist about how much weight to put on the leg. You will be able to more weight on your operated leg as your strength and endurance improve.
While exercise may be painful at first, it can reduce post-op pain, improve blood flow and speed recovery. This will also reduce swelling in the calf and ankle. Swelling can last up to 3 months.
We recommend that you walk two to three times a day for about 20-30 minutes each time. You should get up and walk around the house every 1-2 hours. Eventually you will be able to walk and stand for more than 10 minutes without putting weight on your walker or crutches. Then you can graduate to a cane.
Stair climbing is a great way to increase your strength and endurance. Always use your hand rail and do not try to climb any steps that are higher than 7″. Using a crutch on the opposite side from your surgery, climb up leading with your good leg. Putting weight on the crutch, raise your operated leg and place it on the step. Moving slowly one step at a time.
Going down lead with your operated leg, putting your weight on the crutch. Eventually, you will become stronger enabling you to climb the stairs foot over foot.
Early Post-op exercises
- Ankle Pumps- This exercise should be done right after surgery, and until you are completely recovered. Point and flex your ankles often, at least once per hour.
- Ankle Rotations- move the ankle inside and outside away from the other foot. Do these 5 times in each direction, 3 to 4 times per day.
- Knee Bends – lying on the bed with your leg straight out in front of you, pull your foot toward your buttocks keeping your heel on the bed. Hold in this position for 5-10 seconds, then straighten the knee keeping your heel on the bed.
- Buttock Tightening- Lying on your back, contract your buttocks muscles and hold for a count of 5. Release and repeat 10 times a day.
- Abduction exercises- slide your leg out to your side as far as you can away from your body, and then slide it back. Repeat 10 times per day.
- Quadriceps – Lying on your back, tighten your thigh muscles. Try to straighten your knee. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10 reps in 10 minutes, resting one minute, then repeat. Stop when your thigh feels fatigued.
- Straight leg raises- tighten your quads keeping your knee straight. Lift the leg a few inches. hold 5-10 seconds. Lower the leg. Repeat until your thigh feels fatigued.
- Knee raises. Standing behind a chair and hold the back of the chair for support, raise the knee toward your chest only to waist height. Hold for a count of 2-3 and put the leg down.
- Standing hip abduction. Holding the back of a chair for support, raise your leg out to the side, hold and slowly lower to the floor. Do 10 repetitions. Repeat 3-4 times a day.
- Standing Hip extensions. Again, holding the back of a chair for support, Lift the leg back behind you, keeping the leg and back straight. Hold for 2-3 counts. Release and return the foot to the floor. Do 10 repetitions. Repeat 3-4 times a day.
After about a month of strengthening your hip muscles, you will receive a list of exercises using resistance with an elastic tube. You may also be instructed to ride an exercise bike. Speak with your Ortho Illinois surgeon, and or your physical therapist regarding when you will be ready for these more advanced exercises.