The simplest exercises following hip replacement involve standing and using a chair or a walker for support. These exercises should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes to complete. For each exercise, the individual stands on the leg that did not have surgery and lifts the surgically repaired leg. The first exercise involves the patient facing forward while supporting herself with the walker or chair and lifting the leg forward as far as 40 degrees before bringing it back down to the floor. Thirty repetitions of this action are sufficient. The second exercise entails elevating the surgically repaired leg out to the side at a 40-degree angle and then bringing it back down. Again, doing this 30 times will suffice. The last exercise requires the person to lift the leg backward another 30 times, but only as far as 30 degrees before bringing it back down.
Exercises in Bed
Hip replacement surgery patients perform a number of exercises while in bed. Ankle rotations to increase circulation are easy and accomplished by moving the ankle in toward the other foot and then back outward. An exercise performed while lying down necessitates sliding the heel in the direction of the buttocks while bending the knee. These heel slides should never cause the knee to roll inward. By tightening the buttocks for a count of five the patient performs a buttocks contraction, an exercise that strengthens the muscles around the hip. An abduction exercise that entails sliding the leg out as far as possible and then back to its original position will result in pain in the first few weeks after the surgery but is a strengthening exercise vital to a full recovery. Another trying exercise is the straight leg raise, in which the patient tightens the thigh muscle as the knee fully extends. The patient then must raise the straight leg from the bed several inches and hold for as long as 10 seconds before lowering the leg back down.
Stair climbing is of great benefit for the hip replacement patient, as it will precipitate greater strength and flexibility in the hip. The key is to attempt a single stair at a time. When going up the stairs the good leg should always be the lead leg. Going down the stairs, the leading leg will be the surgically repaired one. This is important and the patient should remember the verse "the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell"--meaning the "good" leg leads going up and the "bad" leg leads going down. The patient should always hold the handrail for support and have someone behind him when first attempting this exercise.