Hip replacement surgery will keep you in the hospital for only a few days, but when you get home, the second part of your recovery begins. A regular exercise regimen is vital to help prevent complications (like blood clots), improve motion of the hip and help you gradually return to normal day-to-day activities.
The program should be developed in accordance with your age and fitness level. Guidance from a physical therapist will determine the frequency and number of repetitions for each exercise. Ideally, you should exercise for twenty to thirty minutes, two to three times a day. The success rate of your recovery from total hip replacement surgery largely depends on your commitment to follow the exercise program.
The following exercises are included in most recovery programs for hip replacement surgery. Initially, for comfort, it is recommended you do these exercises lying on your back on a firm bed.
These movements will help increase circulation to your legs, strengthen your muscles and improve hip movement.
- Ankle Pumps - Lie on your back with your legs straight, toes pointing towards the ceiling. Slowly move your toes down towards the wall stretching the ankle until your toes are pointed (or to your comfort level). Release toes back to the starting position. Do both feet at once or alternate feet. This exercise can be repeated as frequently as every 5 minutes and can be started as early as the recovery room.
- Ankle Circles - Lie on your back with your legs straight, toes pointing towards the ceiling. Starting with one foot slowly rotate ankle moving the toes counterclockwise for five rotations. Repeat clockwise. Switch to other foot and repeat.
- Quadriceps Tightening – Lie on your back with your legs straight. Tighten your thigh muscle, pushing the back of your knee down towards the mattress until the knee is straight (or as close as possible). Hold for five to ten seconds and release.
- Buttocks Squeeze – Lie on your back with your legs straight. Squeeze the buttocks muscles together to tighten them. Hold for five to ten seconds and release.
- Heel Slides – Lie on your back with your legs straight. Make sure your kneecap faces the ceiling during this exercise. Keeping your foot on the bed, slowly slide your heel up toward your buttocks to bending your hip and knee. Slide as far as you can. Hold for 10 seconds and then push heel back to starting position. Repeat ten times on each leg.
The following are hip exercises that should only be undertaken if instructed by either your surgeon or physiotherapists.
- Straight Leg Raises – Lie on your back with your legs straight. Keeping your leg straight, slowly lift one leg a few inches off the mattress. Hold the position for five to ten seconds and slowly lower the leg back to the bed. Repeat on each leg until thigh feels fatigued.
- Abduction Slides – Lie on your back with your legs straight. Keeping your leg straight, slide the right leg away from the left leg forming a “V” with your legs. Slide as far as you can then slide leg back to starting position. Repeat with the left leg, sliding in the opposite direction. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
As much as the exercise program is vital, do not ignore walking. Walking helps build your strength and endurance.
For more information on hip replacement surgery and the recovery process, contact Dr. Dan Albright at 919-863-6808.