Everything You Need to Know About Cycling After a Hip Replacement | Livestrong.com (2022)

Everything You Need to Know About Cycling After a Hip Replacement | Livestrong.com (1)

Cycling is a great low-impact activity that can help after a hip replacement.

Image Credit: adamkaz/E+/GettyImages

Whether you're a dedicated cyclist looking to get back on the bike or someone looking for a low-impact way to stay active after hip replacement surgery, you may have a lot of questions. Most importantly, can you bike after a hip replacement?

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Luckily, with proper rehabilitation and recovery, the answer is yes. In fact, exercise immediately following hip replacement surgery is vital for recovery, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and cycling can help after a total hip replacement under the right conditions, according to an April 2010 study in the ​Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery​.

Start out slowly, and gradually increase your activity as you become stronger. Experts typically recommend starting with 20 to 30 minutes of exercise two or three times a day in early rehabilitation to prevent atrophy, increase muscle tone and maintain flexibility, according to the AAOS.

Read on to find out how to get back into (or start) cycling after the procedure, the best type of bike to use and safety precautions to pay attention to during your rehab.

First, What Is a Hip Replacement?

During a hip replacement, an orthopedic surgeon removes the damaged parts of your hip joint and replaces them with parts usually made of metal, ceramic and very hard plastic. This artificial (prosthetic) joint helps reduce pain and improve function, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Over 450,000 people undergo hip replacement surgery every year in the United States, per the AAOS. Hip replacements in the past were reserved for older adults and people with mobility issues who usually did not expect to restore full mobility capabilities, according to the University of Washington.

But as more and more procedures are performed on an increasingly younger population, physicians and rehabilitation therapists rely more heavily on rehab equipment that can help patients regain full use of their legs and hips and return to an active lifestyle.

Patients usually prefer to replace a hip once it's been so damaged and worn down with arthritis that it causes constant pain, according to the University of Washington.

The Mayo Clinic suggests talking to your doctor about a hip replacement if your hip pain:

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  • Persists, despite pain medication
  • Worsens with walking, even with a cane or walker
  • Interferes with sleep
  • Affects the ability to walk up or down stairs
  • Makes it difficult to rise from a seated position

How to Rehab After a Hip Replacement

As mentioned above, exercise is key when recovering from hip replacement surgery. But it's important to keep in mind your hip is at a greater risk of dislocating after this surgery, according to Alberta Health, so rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery is a gradual process.

You'll begin some strengthening exercises — such as ankle pumps, ankle rotations and glute contractions — as soon as the day after your replacement to prevent muscle atrophy and promote circulation.

Next, you'll move to standing exercises like knee raises, hip abductions and hip extensions. For these standing exercises, you'll want to make sure you don't lift your knee higher than your waist, according to the AAOS.

You'll tackle more strenuous exercises as you heal and gain more strength.

Follow-up care is of utmost importance to your recovery process — and your safety — according to Alberta Health. Make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or physical therapist if any issues arise.

Cycling as a Part of Your Rehab Routine

The best way to ensure that certain exercises are safe for you is to talk with your doctor and physical therapist.

With that being said, you may be wondering: How long after a hip replacement can I ride a bike? It's best to begin cycling when the swelling from the surgery abates and you've accomplished mobility exercises, such as walking and leg lifts.

Bike Selection After a Total Hip Replacement

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There are three main types of bikes people most commonly use for exercise: an outdoor bike, an upright stationary bike (think: a Peloton) or a stationary recumbent bike (where you pedal from a seated chair-like position).

According to the total hip replacement post-op clinical practice guidelines from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, here's when you can begin using each type of bike:

0-2 Weeks

2-6 Weeks

6-12 Weeks

11-20 Weeks

Begin using an upright stationary bike to work on hip range of motion.

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Increase time and resistance on a stationary bike while pedaling forward.

Begin outdoor cycling on level surfaces.

Continue outdoor cycling as tolerated, along with consistent rehab.

Source: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using the recumbent or upright stationary bikes in your early weeks of rehab.

Recumbent Bike

A stationary recumbent bike has a wider seat than an upright cycle, according to the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), providing additional comfort to those fresh out of surgery.

A recumbent bike is one built with the seat parallel to the pedals so the rider's legs are extended forward and less pressure is applied to the hip joints and lower back. A recumbent stationary bike is more stable, per the ISSA, and doesn't require the rider to maintain their balance. And, you don't have to worry about your new hip joints bending or twisting — you can pedal with your legs and hips without fear.

A recumbent bike is also a built-in upper-body workout because of the attached handlebars. Plus, you can increase your resistance as you gains strength. You can adjust the length of riding time and level of resistance as your therpay continues.

The seat should be set far enough from the front of the bike so your legs can reach full extension.

Set the bike for backwards pedaling to warm up. Once the pain of the movement subsides, you can switch to forward pedaling and continue for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day. Stop pedaling if pain persists, however, to avoid complications.

(Video) Total Hip Replacement (Lateral Approach)

Upright Stationary Bike

If you don't have access to a recumbent stationary bike, an upright stationary bike is still a great option. Here are a few tips for using an upright stationary bike after a hip replacement.

  1. Raise the seat of your stationary bike to a level at which your foot rests on the pedal when your knee is almost completely straight. Cycling helps you regain mobility in your hip, but keeping the seat too low might cause you to dangerously over-flex your hip joint during the recovery period, according to the AAOS.
  2. Pedal backward to minimize the pressure you put on your hips when you first start to cycle as part of your rehab, per the AAOS. You may only be able to cycle for a few minutes at a time in the early stages of physical therapy. If you feel any hip pain from your Peloton bike (or other upright stationary bike) regardless of the amount of time you've been pedaling, stop immediately.
  3. Progress to forward cycling once you have been cleared by your doctor or physical therapist to do so. At this point, you shouldn't feel pain when you pedal backward. Check with your medical care provider to determine if you are ready to ride a regular bike as opposed to a stationary bike.
  4. Increase both your cycling time and the resistance level of your cycling as you recover from your hip replacement. After four to six weeks' time, you can increase your biking time to about 30 minutes at least three times weekly, according to the AAOS.

FAQs

Is cycling good after hip replacement? ›

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.

How long after hip replacement can I ride a bicycle? ›

"As long as there is no pounding on the joints, it's safe to begin activity," says Bronson. And while he says outside bike riding is discouraged for three months because of the risk of falling, after that, regular cycling is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

Does cycling strengthen hips? ›

Cycling keeps the hips mobile which benefits overall hip function and athletic performance. It tones the abdominal and oblique muscles, but it also engages the ones on your back, legs, and hips.

What is the best exercise after total hip replacement? ›

Proper walking is the best way to help your hip recover. At first, you will walk with a walker or crutches. Your surgeon or therapist will tell you how much weight to put on your leg. Early on, walking will help you regain movement in your hip.

How long does it take to fully recover from a hip replacement? ›

“On average, hip replacement recovery can take around two to four weeks, but everyone is different,” says Thakkar. It depends on a few factors, including how active you were before your surgery, your age, nutrition, preexisting conditions, and other health and lifestyle factors.

What exercises should you not do after a hip replacement? ›

The following activities are generally not recommended after hip replacement: running, jogging, squash, racquetball, contact sports, sports where jumping is involved, heavy lifting (over 50 lbs).

What are the long term restrictions after hip replacement? ›

That's right, no restrictions. After an anterior hip replacement you can do anything you want to.

Will cycling make hip pain worse? ›

Sitting and cycling both require prolonged periods of hip flexion, which can predispose people to develop tight hip flexors. Additionally, glute weakness is common in individuals who sit for most of the day, which can potentially lead to muscles like the piriformis becoming overactive.

How do I stop my hips from hurting when cycling? ›

Raise your seat to reduce the amount of hip flexion and anterior impingement. You can also raise your handlebars so you sit a little more upright relieving the amount of hip flexion. If you are recovering from a bursitis you may need to lower your seat slightly when you return to cycling.

Is cycling OK for hip pain? ›

Number one: less joint stress. “Cycling is a low-impact exercise,” says Shroyer. This means that cycling limits impact stress on weight-bearing joints, like your hips, knees, and feet. Plus, the movement helps lubricate the joints, which reduces pain and stiffness.

How do you wipe your bottom after hip replacement? ›

2 Helpful Devices for Toileting After Hip Surgery - YouTube

Can you overdo walking after hip replacement? ›

The second complication we try to avoid is loosening of the implants. This can happen when patients do too much walking and stress the implants prior to the ingrowth process. Generally, I advise patients to walk only a few hundred yards a day total until they get to around six weeks.

How long does it take for bone to grow into hip replacement? ›

If the prosthesis is not cemented into place, it is necessary to allow four to six weeks (for the femur bone to "grow into" the implant) before the hip joint is able to bear full weight and walking without crutches is possible.

How long does tiredness last after hip replacement? ›

It is common for patients to be tired following a total hip replacement, which is due in part to anesthesia, blood loss, pain, and the necessity of prescription pain medications. This fatigue will slowly resolve over the course of the first 6 weeks following surgery.

How long do you have to sleep on your back after hip replacement? ›

It's best to avoid sleeping on your affected side for at least six weeks. After your doctor gives you the go-ahead, listen to your body, and only lie on your operative side when you feel comfortable.

How long does it take for nerves to heal after hip surgery? ›

Most patients achieve maximum recovery of neurologic function by seven months; however, recovery may continue for up to 12 to 18 months following the injury.

Can you overdo it after hip surgery? ›

While you recover from your surgery, stay active without overdoing it. Some days will be better than others, but over time you should see an improvement. Follow the guidelines given to you by your doctor and therapy team.

What hurts the most after hip replacement surgery? ›

In most cases , thigh pain after a hip replacement is mild to moderate. This pain typically occurs in the mid-front of the thigh. It may feel as if an ache and come and go. Some people may also experience discomfort that presents as numbness in the thigh.

Can you over exercise a hip replacement? ›

It is important to gradually increase your out-of-home activity during the first few weeks after surgery. If you do too much activity, your hip may become more swollen and painful.

How long after hip replacement is there a risk of dislocation? ›

The risk for dislocation is greatest in the first few months after surgery while the tissues are healing. If the ball does come out of the socket, your doctor can perform a procedure (called a closed reduction) that can usually put it back into place without the need for more surgery.

Why does my hip hurt 2 years after hip replacement? ›

It's possible that you've developed an infection around the artificial joint. Many infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But a major infection near your artificial hip joint may require surgery to remove and replace the joint. Another potential cause of your pain could be a loose implant.

How long after hip replacement can you bend past 90 degrees? ›

Bending after hip replacement surgery

The range of motion is typically limited to 90 degrees of flexion for the first 90 days while tissues are repairing themselves. The maximum potential of the joint and complete healing following a total hip replacement is achieved between one and two years after your operation.

What exercises should you not do after a hip replacement? ›

The following activities are generally not recommended after hip replacement: running, jogging, squash, racquetball, contact sports, sports where jumping is involved, heavy lifting (over 50 lbs).

How can I strengthen my legs after hip replacement? ›

Strengthening
  1. Ankle pumps. ...
  2. Thigh squeezes (quadriceps sets) ...
  3. Buttock squeezes (gluteal sets) ...
  4. Heel slides (hip and knee flexion) ...
  5. Leg slides (abduction/adduction) ...
  6. Lying kicks (short arc quadriceps) ...
  7. Straight leg raises. ...
  8. Sitting kicks (long arc quadriceps)

What sports can you do after hip replacement? ›

While different surgeons may have different recommendations low-impact sports are generally safe for patients to participate in after having a total hip replacement. These include (but are not limited to) swimming, doubles tennis, golf, hiking, cycling, low-impact aerobics, and rowing.

What are the long term restrictions after hip replacement? ›

That's right, no restrictions. After an anterior hip replacement you can do anything you want to.

How do you wipe your bottom after hip replacement? ›

2 Helpful Devices for Toileting After Hip Surgery - YouTube

How long does it take for the muscles to heal after a hip replacement? ›

“On average, hip replacement recovery can take around two to four weeks, but everyone is different,” says Thakkar. It depends on a few factors, including how active you were before your surgery, your age, nutrition, preexisting conditions, and other health and lifestyle factors.

Is swimming good after a hip replacement? ›

hip replacement – you should feel back to normal after 8 to 12 weeks, when you can return to your usual activities, such as swimming, but some surgeons advise against breaststroke. heart bypass surgery – you can swim after 3 months. cataract surgery – you should avoid swimming for 4 to 6 weeks.

Can you overdo walking after hip replacement? ›

The second complication we try to avoid is loosening of the implants. This can happen when patients do too much walking and stress the implants prior to the ingrowth process. Generally, I advise patients to walk only a few hundred yards a day total until they get to around six weeks.

How long does it take for bone to grow into hip replacement? ›

If the prosthesis is not cemented into place, it is necessary to allow four to six weeks (for the femur bone to "grow into" the implant) before the hip joint is able to bear full weight and walking without crutches is possible.

Can you do squats after hip replacement? ›

Exercises which are Safe after Hip Replacement

You can move your leg while lying down in a safe motion. You can do air squats, walk, light jog, and move up and down the stairs. It's because these exercises have plenty of motion without pausing.

Can you return to a normal life after hip replacement? ›

Around three months after your hip operation, most things will go back to normal, and the pain goes away for most people. You need to look out for signs of complications and continue being careful with how you move your hip. After 6 to 12 months, the recovery is considered complete.

Can I run on a treadmill after a hip replacement? ›

It is important to start slowly, first walking, then power walking, then jogging on a smooth surface such as a treadmill without an incline. If you do feel pain, just slow down or stop. You can always run later, when your body gets used to the motion.

Can you kneel after hip replacement? ›

After a hip replacement, many patients can kneel down after completing the precautionary period of three months. The safe way to do this is to perform a single-legged kneel whereby the patient kneels on the knee of the operated side only. This means that the other hip has to bend whilst the operated hip stays extended.

How long do I have to sleep on my back after hip replacement? ›

It's best to avoid sleeping on your affected side for at least six weeks. After your doctor gives you the go-ahead, listen to your body, and only lie on your operative side when you feel comfortable.

How long after hip replacement is there a risk of dislocation? ›

The risk for dislocation is greatest in the first few months after surgery while the tissues are healing. If the ball does come out of the socket, your doctor can perform a procedure (called a closed reduction) that can usually put it back into place without the need for more surgery.

Why does my hip hurt 2 years after hip replacement? ›

It's possible that you've developed an infection around the artificial joint. Many infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But a major infection near your artificial hip joint may require surgery to remove and replace the joint. Another potential cause of your pain could be a loose implant.

Videos

1. After hip replacement surgery, cyclist gets back on the road | University of Iowa Health Care
(University of Iowa Health Care)
2. Terry Fleet; cycling post hip replacement surgery
(leonardmlee)
3. How To Start Cycling After A Hip Replacement
(Soreness Relief)
4. Top 3 Mistakes After Total Hip Replacement
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5. Stationary Bike after Hip Arthroscopic Surgery
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6. Total Hip replacement recovery progress and a cycling adventure!
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