Staying Active After Joint Replacement Surgery

BIDMC Contributor

APRIL 10, 2018

For many, a hip or knee replacement is the ticket to a more active lifestyle. Once you’ve recovered, you can often return to many activities that previously caused you pain. The sooner you undergo the surgery, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery. 

Feeling hesitant to return to physical activity after any major surgery is normal. Your doctor will provide recommendations for activity based on your individual needs.

Here are five tips for jumpstarting your physical activity after joint replacement surgery*. 

  1. Begin with light aerobic exercise. Walking is one of the best exercises for rebuilding strength. Start with small steps and short walks, slowly building up your distance. If you’re concerned about bearing weight, swimming is another great option that will keep your heart pumping. 
  2. Participate in a focused physical therapy program. A physical therapist may recommend cycling on a stationary bike to build strength while increasing the range of motion in your hip or knee. A stationary bike allows you to start slowly and work at your own pace. Gentle stretching is another great way to avoid stiffness and improve flexibility. 
  3. Remember to rest. Placing an ice pack wrapped in a towel on your new joint can help reduce pain and inflammation. Applying a heating pad or hot, damp towel for 15-20 minutes can also help with range of motion, especially before stretching. 
  4. Maintain a healthy diet and quit smoking. A balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, protein and calcium before and after surgery will reduce wound infections and promote a healthy recovery. 
    Smoking increases blood clot risks following joint replacement surgery; speak with your doctor about smoking cessation programs to help you quit.
  5. Recreational activities. A good sport to begin with after your doctor has cleared you for activity is golf. Swinging a golf club requires various muscles in both your lower body and core. You may also want to try rowing, a sport with minimal stress on your lower joints.
  6. Take things slow, and speak with your doctor if you ever feel pain during a new activity. 

*Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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