If you are preparing for hip surgery you probably already know that recovering after the procedure can be a slow, difficult process. Fortunately, performing simple stretches and exercises can help you rebuild strength, flexibility, and joint function, facilitating a smoother recovery. The following exercises from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons can help you rehabilitate your hip joint without overburdening it.
Immediately after surgery, there are several exercises that you can perform while lying on your back with your feet barely apart. Try to repeat the following exercises in sets of 10 at least 3 times per day:
- Move your foot forward and backward, pointing your toes and then flexing your foot.
- Roll your foot inward and outward to stretch your ankle; repeat five times.
- Keep your heel against the bed while bending your knee, sliding your heel toward your body.
- With legs flat, squeeze your buttock muscle for 10 seconds.
- Extend your leg horizontally, away from the other leg, and bring it back.
- Squeeze your thigh muscles and try to fully straighten your leg.
- While squeezing, raise your leg off the bed, keeping it straight.
These exercises can prevent blood clots and help you maintain hip mobility.
Once you are back on your feet, you should perform three exercises in sets of 10, which should be repeated 3 times daily. First, lift your leg toward your chest until your knee reaches hip level, and hold for 3 counts. Second, lift your straightened leg out to the side while keeping your foot, hip, and knee pointed forward. Third, gently lift your straight leg behind you, focusing on keeping your back straight. Make sure you use a stable surface, such as a wall, to stay balanced while performing these exercises.
As you regain mobility, walking with your cane and walker can increase strength. Navigating stairs can also boost stamina, but make sure you don’t take on stairs taller than 7 inches. When walking down stairs, you should step with the replaced hip leading; when you’re walking up stairs, the other hip should lead.
A few specialized exercises can also be highly helpful at this stage. If you own resistance bands, anchor one to pull against your foot as you extend your straightened leg forward, sideways, and behind you. If you have access to a stationary bicycle, start out pedaling backward on low resistance until you can build to pedaling forward. Finally, when you are fully mobile, walk for 20 to 30 minutes several times weekly to maintain strength and function.
After a hip replacement, it’s crucial to be careful and avoid stressing your new joint. Always make sure you perform exercises carefully, pay attention to feedback from your body, and speak to a doctor about any questions or concerns.