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Recovery After a Hip Replacement, Hip Replacement Exercises

by Jane Hodgson 4 November 2011


Hip replacements are now a common and successful operation, but maximum recovery will be assisted by appropriate hip replacement exercises.

Hip replacement is a very common and successful operation. National statistics show that more than 95% of people who have a hip replacement are pleased with the result. It is however well understood that returning to full function after hip replacement is improved with hip replacement exercises and the long term success of hip replacement does depend on the effort and time that a person invests into their rehabilitation afterwards.

Speed of recovery and amount of improvement after hip replacement does vary from person to person and is influenced by a number of factors including:

  • Age and general fitness. People who are older and have other health problems may take longer to recover from the effects of the surgery than others.
  • uscle strength prior to the operation. If the hip muscles are strong before the operation then control and movement of the hip and pelvis will be regained more quickly afterwards.
  • Commitment to rehab. Like any form of training muscles strengthen and movement improves in line with the amount of time and effort that is put into using them. There is however a middle line, excessive force and exercise in the early stages after hip replacement can be detrimental.

Hip Replacement exercises: Immediately after Surgery

The rehab after hip replacement commences immediately after surgery.

  • Exercises that are important in this phase include moving the ankle up and down to keep the blood pumping through the calf and decrease the risk of a blood clot.
  • Tensing the thigh muscles, this is known as a static quads contraction.
  • Buttock squeezes, this one will help to keep one of the group of muscles which are  mportant when walking strong.

It is important in this early stage that the precautions that the surgeon prescribes are followed closely. Most surgeons restrict hip bend and adduction, (taking the leg across the midline of the body) for the first six weeks to reduce the risk of dislocation.

Hip Replacement Exercises after 6 Weeks

After 6 weeks the risk of dislocation is generally considered to reduce. Exercises from now on will concentrate on increasing strength in the muscles aound the hip and improving the walking pattern.

  • Hip muscle strengthening work. A common problem after hip replacement is that if the hip abductors (the muscles that lift the leg away from the body to the side) are not strengthened a characteristic "waddle" is seen on walking.
  • Gait reducation. Most people have had hip problems for some time before their hip operation.  During this time they will have altered the way that they walk, this doesn't automatically return to normal after the operation but will be improved with appropriate exercises.

Physiobench can provide an individually tailored exercise programme of the best post hip replacement exercises.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is written to help you understand the rationale for exercise after hip replacement. Should you have any concerns you should always seek advice from a qualified health professional such as a Chartered Physiotherapist, your GP or consultant.


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About the author

Jane Hodgson - Chartered Physiotherapist Jane Hodgson Jane specialises in lower body injuries and has raced competitively in running, orienteering and adventure racing.

Did you know

80,000 hip replacements are carried out in England and Wales every year. The first hip replacement was done in the 1960's

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