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Home exercise program: Exercises after hip replacement surgery

  • Once you return home, exercise is still important to prevent complications and to build strength, as well as improve the motion of your hip. This will help you to increase your activity level to what it was before surgery.

    Your leg muscles probably feel weak because you didn't use them much with your hip problems. Surgery corrected the hip problem.

    A regular exercise program

    A regular exercise program will strengthen the weakened muscles. Your success with rehabilitation largely depends on your commitment to follow the exercise program developed by your therapists.

    Ideally, you should exercise two to three times a day, every day, after surgery.

    Complete each exercise 10 times. If you are comfortable with the exercise, increase the repetitions by five times each week, until you reach 20 repetitions:

    • week one: 10 repetitions
    • week two: 15 repetitions
    • week three: 20 repetitions

    Follow specific directions given to you by your surgeon, therapist or nurse.

    For the most comfort, do your exercises lying down. Your bed is an excellent place to do your exercises.

    Hip exercises

    Ankle pumps and circles

    Ankle pumps and circles

    Bend both your ankles up, pulling your toes toward you, then bend both your ankles down, pointing your toes away from you. In addition, rotate each foot clockwise and counterclockwise, keeping your toes pointed toward the ceiling.


    Thigh squeezes (quadriceps sets)

    Thigh squeezes (quadriceps sets)

    Tighten the muscles on the front of your thigh by pushing the back of your knee down into the bed. Hold for five seconds and relax.


    Optional: Buttocks squeezes (gluteal sets)

    Buttocks squeezes (gluteal sets)

    Tighten your buttocks muscles by squeezing the muscles together. Hold for five seconds and relax.


    Heel slides (hip and knee flexion)

    Heel slides (hip and knee flexion)

    Bend your hip and knee by sliding your heel up toward your buttocks while keeping your heel on the bed. Slide your heel back down to the starting position. Keep your kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling during the exercise. You may want to use a plastic bag under your heel to help it slide easier. Repeat with opposite leg.
    Important: Depending on your surgery, you may need to keep your hip from bending over a 90-degree angle. Ask your surgeon if you have questions about your restrictions.


    Leg slides (abduction/adduction)

    Leg slides (abduction/adduction)

    Slide your leg out to the side, keeping your kneecap pointed up toward the ceiling. Slide your leg back to return to the starting position. You may want to use a plastic bag under your heel to help it slide easier. Repeat with opposite leg.
    Important: Depending on your surgery, you may not be able to do this exercise on your own. Ask your surgeon if you have questions about your restrictions.


    Lying kicks (short arc quadriceps)

    Lying kicks (short arc quadriceps)

    Lie on your back with a three-pound coffee can or rolled blanket under your knee. Straighten your knee. Hold for five seconds. Slowly lower your leg down and relax. The back of your knee should stay in contact with the can/blanket during the exercise. Repeat with opposite leg.


    Sitting kicks (long arc quads)

    Sitting kicks (long arc quads) 

    Sit in a sturdy chair. Lift your foot, straightening your knee as much as possible. Try to keep your knees level, as if you were holding a tray on your lap. Hold for five seconds. Slowly lower your leg down and relax. Return to the starting position and repeat with opposite leg.
     

    Optional hip exercises: after surgery

    Do these exercises only if instructed by a therapist or surgeon.

    Straight leg raises

    Straight leg raises

    Bend your nonsurgical leg with foot flat on the bed. Raise your surgical leg up (about 12 inches), keeping your knee straight. Hold briefly. Progress to holding for five seconds. Slowly lower your leg down and relax.

    Hamstring sets

    Hamstring sets

    Bend your surgical knee a little and tighten the muscle along the back of your thigh by digging your heel into the bed. Hold for five seconds and relax.


    Abduction sets

    Abduction sets

    Tighten muscles on the outside part of your thigh by pushing the surgical leg outward against an immovable object. Hold for five seconds and relax.


    Bridging

    Bridging

    Slowly raise your buttocks from the bed, keeping your stomach muscles tight. Hold for ______ seconds (get therapist or surgeon's recommendation for length of time). Slowly lower your buttocks down and relax.


    Walking

    Besides your exercise program, you must leave time for walking. Walking helps build your strength and endurance. Walk around your home three to five times each day. Trips to the bathroom or kitchen are not enough. Progress to walking outside and in the community. Important: Talk with your therapist about how far you should walk each day so you don’t overdo it.