Most patients undergoing total hip replacement surgery want to know when they’ll be able to return to their normal life. Recovery time is one of the most common questions posed to specialists. There are many factors that can contribute to your recovery time from this procedure, but typically patients can hope to return to normal life activities within 1 to 6 months.

People recovering from hip replacement surgery are advised to do hip-strengthening exercises each day. Exercise

  • Increases muscle flexibility and strength, which helps protect joints
  • Promotes healing by increasing blood flow

About 6 weeks after surgery, most patients are able to scale back and do exercises 3 or 4 times a week.

Below are hip-strengthening exercises that doctors and physical therapists commonly recommended to hip replacement patients. Patients may be advised to do 10 or 15 repetitions of each exercise a few times a day.

 

Glut squeezes

The gluteus muscles are located at back of the hip and help support and control hip joints. To do this exercise, a patient will:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Squeeze the buttocks, contracting the gluteus muscles
  • Hold for 5 seconds and release

Like quad squeezes, glut squeezes can strengthen the gluteus muscles without stressing the new joint.

 

Quad squeezes

The quadriceps muscles are located at the front of the thigh and help support and control hip joints. To do this exercise, a patient will:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Contract the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh
  • During the contraction, the leg should be kept straight, so that it may seem the back of the knee is pressing down
  • Hold for 5 seconds and release

Quad squeezes can strengthen the quadriceps muscles without moving or putting strain on the hips.

 

Ankle pumps

Exercising the muscles of the lower leg will help maintain their strength and improve blood circulation.

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended and ankle propped up on a towel or blanket
  • Flex foot, pushing the heel away from the body and toes pointing up and towards the body
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Point the toes, moving the heel towards the calf and toes pointing away from the body
  • Hold for 5 seconds

Ankle pumps stimulate blood flow in the leg and strengthen the lower leg, which can help support the hip.

 

Knee Extensions

These exercises can be done sitting upright in a firm chair.

  • Raise the foot and extend the knee until the leg is straight
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Slowly lower the foot until it rests on the floor again

Knee extensions help strengthen the quadriceps and improve knee and hip flexibility.

 

Heel slides

These exercise engage both the quadriceps muscles and the gluteal muscles. To do heel slides, a patient will:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Flex the new hip and its knee, bringing the knee off the bed and sliding the foot along the bed
  • Keep the other leg straight
  • Hold for 10 seconds

Heel slides work both the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, and will help improve the patient’s range of motion.

 

Hip abductions

Abduction exercises require moving a limb away from the body. A reclined hip abduction requires a patient to:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Keep the affected leg straight and toes pointed upward, slide the leg to the side, moving away from the centerline of the body
  • Move the leg back to centerline (not past centerline—angling the leg inward can put the hip at risk for dislocation)
  • Keep the other leg extended and straight

Eventually, hip abduction exercises can be done standing up, with the hands braced on the back of a chair. When and if the patient is ready, a physical therapist may demonstrate how to add resistance using an elastic band, making the exercise more challenging.

Hip abduction exercises help stabilize the pelvis and encourage a normal walking gait.