As you probably know, physical activity is vital for maintaining a strong, healthy lifestyle. But when you undergo hip replacement surgery, getting back to an exercise regimen can require some time and adjustment.
Thankfully, advances in hip replacement surgery make such procedures less invasive and offer faster recovery times than in the past.
You won’t be able to do everything right away, but if you pursue steady integration into your previous routine, you’ll soon be back to your normal level of physical activity.
How To Exercise Again After Hip Replacement
Here are some tips that will help you get back to your usual physical activities after a hip replacement surgery:
1. Start With Slow Movements
The faster you return to exercise after surgery, the better off you’ll be. Once your doctor gives the all-clear, you’re likely to work with a physical therapist to help your muscles and tendons ease back to the regular movement.
Your P.T. will have you start slowly. At first, it might feel as if you’re not doing much of anything, especially if you’re accustomed to burning several hundred calories every workout session.
Just remember you’re not doing it to burn calories but to help your muscles sustain exercise now and in the future.
Your orthopedic surgeon and/or physical therapist will likely recommend some of the following movements:
- Ankle pumps;
- Ankle rotations;
- Bed-supported knee bends;
- Buttock contractions;
- Abduction exercises;
- Quadricep sets;
- Straight leg raises;
- Standing exercises.
Take it slowly, doing only as much as you can without it hurting. Speak with your P.T. if you feel an exercise may not be beneficial, it’s causing your pain, or it impedes your healing progress in any way.
2. Stretch Daily
Stretching is an essential part of recovery. It enables your muscles and tendons to handle tough exercises by relieving tensions in the hip and surrounding areas, which can reduce the risk of further injury.
At first, your stretches should center on the muscles that surround your hip to avoid inflammation in that area, which can slow your recovery. Over time, you’ll work hip-flexing stretches into your regimen as part of all your P.T. exercises.
You’ll primarily want to target muscles in your legs, although you might be encouraged to engage your core and take some of the weight off your hips. Begin each stretch with care, and push the activity only to a mild point of tension.
You may deepen the stretch as you go, but if anything hurts, relieve pressure or stop altogether.
Try stretching morning and night for best results.
If you find that you’re particularly tense, stretch in a heated environment or right after you get out of the shower, since your muscles will be most relaxed under those conditions.
3. Choose Low-Impact Exercises
When you’ve gotten past the stretching and slow-movement stages, transition into real calorie-burning exercise. If you’ve been an avid gym attendee, this will be the moment you’ve been waiting for … but you should still take it slow.
Yoga is another reliable option, and you can do some upper-body strength training as long as you don’t try to max out. We all use the muscles in the hip more than you might think, so approach strength training cautiously and with the approval of a doctor.
4. Pair Exercise With Proper Diet
Although you might not realize it, your body’s speed of recovery is as much about what you put inside it as what you do with its structure. As you exercise, think about the foods you’re eating that could either hinder or boost your recovery.
As a general rule, if you want to promote healing, consume plenty of protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, and calcium. A balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables, is also essential to keeping your mind and body fit for recovery.
If you eat with care, that will also help you control your weight and feel good about your body during the period you’re not able to exercise fully. Abs are made in the kitchen, as the saying goes.
5. Listen To Your Body
As you ease back into exercise, always listen to your body. You know yourself better than any doctor.
If you feel any pain, stop right away; and if something feels off, it probably is. Give yourself a few more days to recover before trying again.
It’s always better to stop and check with your doctor than to do something that could set your recovery back several weeks. If all goes well and you’re properly careful, you should be back to normal within a few months of surgery.