Sport and exercise after a hip replacement

28 July 2022

After undergoing a hip replacement, many people are keen to return to the same levels of activity they enjoyed before. In this article, we take a look at the expectations and explore the when, what, and how behind returning to sport and exercise after a hip replacement.

Can you do sports after a hip replacement?

Whether it’s getting back in the saddle, on court, or in the pool, we understand that people are eager to return to the activities they enjoyed before their operation.

All hip replacement patients are different and it’s important to follow the advice of your doctor. The general consensus is that high impact sports are discouraged following surgery. These are activities with a high risk of falling such as rugby, martial arts and football.

Low impact sports such as golf, cycling, hiking and swimming (avoid breaststroke) are encouraged. These should only be undertaken once you’ve progressed far enough in your recovery. People who liked to get outside can still enjoy gardening after a hip replacement. They should however, return to the activity with caution around bending and lifting. Those that enjoyed tennis should start with the doubles format following their operation. This reduces stress on the new joint as there’s less of the court to cover.

Running or jogging after a hip replacement is much more of a grey area. Running is considered a high impact sport, and as such, is generally discouraged following the operation. There are cases where people have returned to running without suffering setbacks. Those wishing to run again should be aware that this will wear the joint out faster. As ever, it’s important to follow the advice of your doctor.

When is it safe to get back into exercise after surgery?

Patients are advised to begin specific exercises as soon as possible following their total joint replacement. These are aimed at improving the flexibility and strength of the affected muscles and will be provided by your doctor and physiotherapist. In the weeks after surgery, your doctor may advise you to increase the frequency of these exercises as you prepare for returning to sport.

Your doctor will likely advise against putting too much stress on the new hip joint too soon. Even when fully recovered, it is unlikely you’ll be able to return to most high impact sports following hip replacement surgery.

What is the best exercise after a total hip replacement?

The effectiveness of exercises differs from patient to patient. However, walking is generally considered as the best exercise following total hip replacement. This is because it helps to promote hip movement and is a low impact activity.

Post-operative exercises

As soon as you’re able, you’ll be encouraged to do specific exercises. These will primarily be aimed at strengthening the muscles in the operated leg. At first, they’re likely to be very low impact but will build in frequency as you recover.

The best gym exercises after a hip replacement

Your doctor will provide exercises tailored to your recovery. These will be aimed at strengthening and promoting movement around the affected hip area. The glute and quad muscles in particular will be targeted.

Exercises for hip replacement after three months

Once you reach three months post-operation, the aim should be to increase your endurance. This will give you a better chance at returning to sport without suffering setbacks.

Exercises should be done two to three times a week and will include things like calf and toe raises, hip abductions, and glute raises. Your doctor and physio will be able to advise as to the best course of action with regards to specific exercises.

Exercises one year after a hip replacement

12 months after your total hip replacement, you should be well on the road to making a full recovery. However, it’s still important to keep your activity levels up and maintain the exercises your doctor has given you.

Hip replacement exercises for long-term fitness

As has been mentioned previously, exercises should aim to develop strength and movement around the affected area. To reduce stresses and strains on the new hip, you should aim to maintain a healthy weight. Ask your doctor for advice around maintaining long-term fitness following a total hip replacement.

What activities should be avoided after a hip replacement?

As previously mentioned, high impact activities should be avoided. Sports with an increased chance of falling such as rugby, football, and martial arts should not be undertaken unless specifically advised by your doctor.

Positions to avoid after a hip replacement

After surgery, you need to protect your new hip joint. To do this, avoid sitting cross-legged, bending your hip more than 90 degrees, and sitting in low chairs. For more information on positions to avoid, you should consult your doctor.

Are there any lifelong restrictions after a hip replacement?

There aren’t many lifelong post-op restrictions. However, high impact activities such as long distance running are generally discouraged. These can be particularly damaging to a new hip. You should seek the advice of your doctor or physio if you want to return to high impact sports.

The importance of sports and exercise after hip surgery

The importance of sports and exercise following hip surgery cannot be understated. Exercising several times a week can strengthen the muscles around the artificial joint, as well as improve flexibility, mental wellbeing, and general fitness levels. Maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce the stress put on the new hip joint.

Hip replacement surgery and sports activities: FAQs

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Our FAQs might be able to help.

Can you run and jump after a hip replacement?

High impact activities such as running and jumping are not recommended after a hip operation unless specifically advised by your doctor.

Can you jog after a hip replacement?

Jogging is generally regarded as a high-impact activity and is not recommended after a hip operation unless specifically advised by your doctor.

Is cycling good after a hip replacement?

Unlike running, cycling is seen as a very good post-op activity because it’s very low impact on your hips. In fact, your doctor may recommend cycling on a static bike as a way of building muscle strength around the affected hip.

Is riding a stationary bike good after a hip replacement?

Yes, in fact, your doctor may recommend cycling on a static bike as a way of building muscle strength around the affected hip.

Can you do squats with a hip replacement?

Yes and no. Squat exercises can be done after a hip replacement but not without the permission from your doctor. Squats should not be attempted until a few months after your operation.

Can you do yoga after a hip replacement?

Most yoga positions can be enjoyed after a hip operation. However, you should discuss returning to yoga with your doctor and inform your yoga instructor about your new hip.

Tips for getting back into exercise safely

We understand that people who enjoyed high levels of activity before their hip operation will want to make a quick return. But it’s crucial they do so safely to avoid damaging their new hip. Doctors can provide detailed medical advice and recommend physiotherapy to speed up the recovery process. They may also advise you to use assistive devices such as crutches or walking frames in the days following your operation.