Exercising begins in the hospital
Soon after a total joint replacement, doctors often encourage patients to start moving and exercising. This happens while recovering in the hospital to help increase circulation and strengthen the new hip joint. Patients may feel uncomfortable with those first few exercises, but these exercises will help speed up recovery and diminish hip pain over time.
One of the best ways to recover from a total joint replacement is walking. Start the first steps using a walker or crutches. The physical therapist or surgeon will direct how much weight the leg can bear. Stand comfortably and erect with each step and move forward slowly. Walk as rhythmically and smoothly as possible. Over time hip muscle endurance and strength will improve, and at that time, speed can be increased.
2. Climbing stairs
Try climbing stairs once walking has become comfortable. Stair climbing is a great way to increase hip strength, stability, and endurance. When using a crutch, place the crutch on the opposite side from the new hip joint and climb, leading with the good leg. Put weight on the crutch, raise the operated leg and place that leg on the step. Always use the handrail and go slowly.
3. Glute squeezes
The gluteus muscles are muscles at the back of the hip. These muscles help support the hip joints. To complete a glut squeeze exercise, a patient will:
- Lie down on the floor on the back with legs straight.
- Squeeze the buttocks together and tighten the gluteus muscles.
- Hold for 5 seconds and relax.
- Repeat 10 times in a row.
4. Straight leg raises
To begin straight leg raises, first tighten the quadriceps keeping the knee straight. Lift the leg a few inches off the ground. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Lower the leg. Repeat until legs become fatigued.
5. Ankle pumps
Ankle pumps are a great strengthening exercise to promote healing and increase blood flow. To start, lay flat on the back of the floor. Flex the foot upward and back and point toes down. Perform this exercise often.
Take it slow
Regaining range of motion and strength is vital to recovery after a total joint replacement. Participating in strength exercises regularly can help strengthen joints and aid in the healing process. Be sure to go slow and consult with the medical team and therapist for additional activities.