With a major joint replacement surgery, like a hip or knee, a patient can expect to regain most physical activities fairly quickly. As always, be sure to consult your doctor and therapist to ensure that your post-surgical plan is consistent with the joint replacement surgery you had and the physical activities you are interested in doing. In most cases, you can regain full physical activities within 12 weeks. Obviously, the more committed you stay with your physical therapy, the more likely your mobility will return.
As AOA Jim Burnet, MD says “Joint replacement patients can expect to return to most activities without any limitations. These include golf, tennis, bicycling, gardening just to name a few. Regular high impact exercise (like running) is not recommended due to the potential of shortening the life span of the new joint. Joint replacement patients can resume physically demanding forms of jobs as well, without difficulty.”
Just like a natural knee or hip, a replacement joint relies on exercise to maximize it’s flexibility and mobility. Most doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of physical exercise 3 times per week. This is a list of physical activities that will likely be consistent with your recovery plan.
Start out with a partner and track your progress daily. Use your neighborhood or closest public park and start with small steps. As you work out to longer distances, the strength of your new joint should continually improve. Running, unfortunately, is high impact and most likely should be avoided until full clearance is given.
Since pools help minimize weight-bearing, swimming is a highly recommended physical activity for your joint replacement without adding stress to your joint. Most doctors recommend swimming within 3-5 weeks following your procedure.
Activities that result in twisting or jumping should definitely be avoided until doctor’s approval is given. However, gentle stretching is excellent in strengthening the flexibility surrounding your new joints.
Crunches, lunges, pushups are great for strengthening the core and full body. Most gyms have classes for movement exercises, as long as they are low impact.
Double’s tennis, golf, rowing, biking, and bowling are excellent activities if done at mild levels. Reduce the weight and resistance on machines and avoid heavy lifting, twisting, jumping and running.