8 Exercises to Do After a Hip Replacement

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Your doctor will encourage you to walk soon after hip replacement surgery. It helps you regain strength and movement in your hip. There are also specific exercises your physical therapist may recommend to prevent blood clots, gain muscle strength, and improve your range of motion. As you progress through your recovery, you can add resistance to aid full recovery. Here are some exercises you can do to help make your surgery a success.

1. Ankle Pumps and Rotations

You can start ankle exercises right after surgery. Lying on your back, flex and point your feet hinging at the ankle. Pump them like this several times. You can do ankle pumps every 10 minutes or so. For ankle rotations, make a circle with your foot by moving it at the ankle. Turn your foot inward toward the other foot, sweep outward away from the other foot, and then back inward. Go several times in each direction 3 to 4 times a day.

2. Lying Down Knee Bends

Lying down on the bed, slide the heel of one foot up toward your buttocks. Your goal is to achieve a bent knee with your heel remaining on the bed. Don’t let your knee roll inward or outward. Hold this bent knee position for 15 seconds and repeat the bend 10 times. You can do this exercise 3 or 4 times a day. It helps with hip flexion.

3. Buttocks Contractions

Lying flat on the bed, squeeze your buttock muscles together. Hold the contraction for a count of five—about 10 seconds—but don’t hold your breath! Remember to breathe during the contraction. Repeat the squeeze 10 times with a brief rest in between. You can repeat these buttock contractions 3 or 4 times a day. It helps with hip extension.

4. Quadriceps Contractions

Lying flat, tighten your thigh muscle with a straight knee until the back of the knee pushes into the bed. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times 3 to 4 times a day. You will eventually progress to a straight leg raise. In the same position, tighten your thigh muscle and raise your leg several inches off the bed. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, slowly lower it, and repeat. These exercises strengthen your quadriceps—a large muscle group that controls hip movement.

5. Hip Abduction

Lying flat on your back, straighten your leg and flex your foot. Keeping your toes pointed up, slide your leg out to the side away from your body. Don’t let your foot roll in or out and take your leg out as far as you comfortably can. Gradually, you will gain range of motion. Repeat the slide 10 times and up to 3 to 4 times a day. This exercise supports your posture and gait by strengthening your hips and stabilizing your legs and pelvis.

6. Knee Raises

As you recover, you will start exercising out of bed. You can do knee raises in a standing position. Raise your knee toward your chest as far as you can without going past your waist. Hold for a few seconds and slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 times 3 to 4 times a day. You can progress to marching in place. Hold on to a chair back or counter for stability. This exercise strengthens and stabilizes your hip muscles.

7. Standing Hip Abduction

This is the standing version of the movement you practiced on the bed. Stand and hold on to a chair back or counter for stability. Keep your leg and body straight and your knee and toes facing forward. Swing your straight leg out to the side away from your body. Slowly lower it back to the floor. You can do 10 repetitions and repeat the whole set 3 to 4 times a day.

8. Standing Hip Extension

Use a chair back or counter for stability and start from a standing position. Slowly swing your leg backward behind your body. Try to keep your leg and back straight. Slowly lower it back to the floor. You can do 10 repetitions and repeat the whole set 3 to 4 times a day. Eventually, you will progress to using an elastic band to provide resistance for your standing exercises. Take your time and follow your physical therapist’s instructions.

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  1. Total Hip Replacement Exercise Guide. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00303
  2. Total Hip Replacement, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy Protocols. Massachusetts General Hospital. http://www.massgeneral.org/ortho/patienteducation/pt-ed-hiprehab.pdf.
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 9
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