Running On Treadmill After Hip Replacement – When To Start, Tips & Precautions!

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Hip replacement is a surgery that requires you to avoid putting any kind of stress on the hip joint after you get it done, and running is one such high-impact activity. If you wish to do so, it’s vital to pay serious attention to your physical therapy from the beginning and slowly ease into the process. Starting from slow walking, fast-paced walking, jogging, and running preferred mode should be treadmill since it’s more even. There’re several tips and precautions for you to remember and take to avoid injuries. If you’re seeing any warning signs or symptoms, visit your doctor. 

One thing after a hip replacement surgery that doctors tell you is to avoid any sort of high-level physical activity to avoid straining your joints. Doctors fear that if you do all kinds of physical activity, you’ll end up wearing down your replacement needing another surgery soon.

But it’s difficult for patients who have always been athletic to lose that part of their lives forever. Although some level of light physical activity is allowed, what if someone wants to work out or even run regularly? Is it possible to run on a treadmill or outside daily?

Physical activity after hip replacement

A woman is doing physiotherapy to help with her recent hip replacement surgery.

Depending on your situation, you might have gotten a hip replacement either because of hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, or other possible causes. 

Whatever the reason for the hip replacement surgery might have been, the doctor’s precautions include avoiding high-impact activities such as running, hockey, stationary bikes, soccer, and rock climbing, to name a few.

But low impact activities can be adapted easily, such as golf, swimming, bowling, pleasure horseback riding, stationery cycling, ballroom dancing, walking, and low-impact aerobic exercise. 

These activities don’t specifically put all the stress on your replaced joint, so you can continue with them once you’ve successfully completed your rehabilitation. 

The rehabilitation process mainly includes regular moderate exercise in small intervals to restore your range of motion and strength to your hip and gradually return to everyday activities. You’ll have sessions with your physical therapist for 20 to 30 minutes, which is needed for your full recovery after hip replacement.

Running on treadmill after hip replacement

If you want to start running on the treadmill after your hip replacement, it depends on the bone quality and the prosthetic materials used to replace the worn hip joint. 

In your surgery, the damaged cartilage and bones are removed and replaced with metal, plastic, or ceramic joint surfaces. There’s a risk of stem fracture and prosthesis loosening when you try hardcore activities, and it can result in wearing down of the artificial materials used in the surgery.

This is how doctors come to the conclusion of avoiding any strenuous activities. But as times change, we can see an advancement in materials used for the surgery and surgical methods.

It has helped patients maintain their joints for a longer time than older hip replacement cases. 

A 2011 study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy reported that the initial 2-3 months are crucial in recovery after a hip replacement, and recovery occurs quickly. Each person going under surgery will have a different experience in recovering. 

An important part is to focus on your therapy and continue it even after you think you’ve healed. This is crucial in building your thigh muscles, range of motion, and regaining your strength. The muscles around the hip joint need to be strengthened to continue doing any kind of activity.

If you wish to run on a treadmill, I believe that’s a personal choice you should discuss with your surgeon. Although they would probably tell you to avoid it, a discussion is essential to know your situation. 

You need to take it slow and continue with proper rehabilitation and therapy. They will only help you if you wish to run on the treadmill. The ability to return to strenuous activity such as running depends on age, type of artificial implant, surgical technique, athletic experience, and how seriously you take your rehabilitation. 

In some cases, learning to walk on the treadmill is part of the rehabilitation process. It has significantly improved the whole process of getting back into the everyday routine compared to normal walking. The treadmill sessions have helped improve muscle strength more significantly. 

How to run on treadmill after hip replacement

When you’ve decided to start running on the treadmill after 2-3 months of your rehabilitation period has passed after the surgery, you still need to take some steps to slowly get there.

Build up a routine

The wish to reach your goal will start from taking small steps towards that journey that includes a walking routine in your day. Depending on your healing journey, you should start by walking regularly. 

You might want to use a walking stick, or if you’ve surpassed that stage, then walking every day should still be a part of your journey to build up stamina and strength.

Building up leg muscles

The next important step is to build up your muscles around the hip replaced. There are a bunch of activities that can help you achieve that. 

These activities aren’t particularly strenuous on your knees but help build overall muscles and strength, such as swimming, golf, bowling, low-impact aerobics, and so on. 

In fact, water therapy works wonders for many patients trying to prevent stress on all leg joints.

Warm up before running

As I said, building up a routine is important to reach your goal of running on a treadmill, and it starts from slow walking daily. When you’re comfortable with walking, you can start power walking, then jogging on the treadmill, and finally running on the treadmill. 

This whole process should be fluid and gradual. Remember to do the following before and after running:

  • Stretching your legs, arms, back, and hips correctly.
  • Warming up thoroughly.
  • Cooldown by gently stretching legs, arms, back, and hips to avoid soreness.
  • Starting with small intervals then slowly increasing it.
  • Avoid jerking your body and maintain the speed you can handle with a professional overlooking the whole process. 

Pay attention 

When you start running on the treadmill, you have to pick up some speed to run correctly. Never try to run on the treadmill while holding onto it, as it can severely impact your posture for a longer duration. 

You might be scared at first, but a good speed helps you run correctly. When you’re running, pay attention to your muscles, form, and joints. Running on treadmills is much preferred for patients who got their hip replaced as it’s smoother and even when compared to running on roads or pavements. 

Care after running

Just because you feel fine after running on the treadmill doesn’t mean you are. You still need to take all precautions and do everything to take care of your joint after any strenuous activity. 

After running, placing an ice pack on the hip can help avoid any inflammation, which is a common and easiest thing to have after a hip replacement. 

Symptoms to look out for when running after hip replacement

Complications can occur if you’re not careful with your hip after the surgery. Ensure you’re taking all the physical therapy sessions and not stressing your hip joint so much. Keep focussing on other activities to strengthen your muscles to avoid stress on the hip joint.

If you notice any of the following complications, signs, or symptoms, then immediately visit your orthopedic surgeon and stop further activities:

  • Blood clots
  • The difference in leg lengths
  • Pain, redness, or swelling in your thigh, leg, ankle, or foot
  • Sudden shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Fever above 100-degree Fahrenheit
  • The wound is swollen, red, or oozing
  • Wear and tear of implant
  • Dislocation of the ball in the hip socket

FAQs

What 3 things should be avoided after hip replacement surgery?

After a hip replacement surgery, the surgeon tells you to avoid doing physical activities that can strain your joint and result in wear and tear of the artificial material there. Rehabilitation and physical therapy are a significant part of recovery after the surgery.

Most doctors tell you not to bend your hips or knees further than 90 degrees, not cross the legs, and not lift the leg to put on socks. All these movements involve a direct impact on the hip joint. It’s important to talk to your surgeon about what you can do and can’t and not push yourself to the limit. 

What is the best exercise after total hip replacement?

Walking is the best exercise for people with hip replacements, and the physical therapist recommends many other small exercises during the initial rapid recovery period. In the beginning, using a walking stick or walker is a must to gain balance, and only after a few months does the patient become smooth with it. Continue doing a low-impact activity to regain muscle strength. 

What happens 4 months after hip replacement?

After the hip replacement surgery, the first three months are crucial in seeing a rapid recovery in the patient with the help of medications and physical therapy. But the muscle weakness may persist up to 2 years after the surgery, which some patients don’t take seriously.

If you stop doing your exercises, taking care of your joints, and going to therapy sessions, it might result in a movement restriction and impact your muscles and body overall.

How long does it take to walk normally after a hip replacement?

Your recovery period may vary depending on why you’re opting for hip replacement surgery. Walking in small steps is more manageable from day one, but you still need to go for rehabilitation and have physical therapy sessions to make it easier for your muscles to adjust. 

It takes about 4 to 6 weeks to start feeling normal after the surgery, but you would still require to continue being active and do your exercises to avoid movement restrictions. Building up muscles around the hip joint is something you must do, so there’s less pressure on your hip joint when doing any activity. 

Can you live a normal life after hip replacement?

If you follow your surgeon’s instructions for do’s and don’ts after the surgery and take proper care of yourself, you can certainly have a normal life after hip replacement. Although, a lot of it also depends on your age, how active you were before the surgery, pre-existing conditions, and other lifestyle choices. 

Immediately visit your doctor if you witness any signs or symptoms of infection, swelling, redness, and basically anything wrong in the hip joint area. 

To summarize

Hip replacement surgery is a significant surgery requiring physical therapy and avoiding strenuous activity for at least 3 months after the surgery.

During the recovery period, it’s vital to pay attention to therapy and rehabilitation to build muscles around the hip joint to avoid stress. You’ll also have to follow instructions given on exercises at home and how to safely adjust to your everyday lifestyle.

Even though running is something doctors tell you to avoid, it’s crucial to step into it slowly if it’s something you sincerely wish to do. Do your sessions, follow up on other activities to build muscle, and start by walking daily.

You can then step into jogging and finally run. Know your body and pay attention to it. If you see some warning signs or any impact on joints, stop immediately and visit your doctor. 

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Saumya Malik is an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. She's passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.
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