Exercises in Water for After a Hip Replacement

Hip replacement is major surgery designed to ease pain and make movement easier for people who previously had pain with every step they took. Once a patient has the surgery, the rehab process begins. In almost all cases, the first steps of that therapy take place in a pool.

Walking in a Pool

Get in the pool as soon as you can after your surgery. Just being in the water and moving around will help facilitate your recovery. However, when you can start walking in the pool, your recovery will begin in earnest. Start off by walking 4 to 5 minutes in the shallow end of the pool and work your way up to 7 to 8 minutes before starting to run in the pool. Always do this exercise in water that is below neck level. You should feel pressure as you pick up your legs in the walking motion. The water provides resistance and exercises your hips and legs in the process.

Running in a Pool

You can start running in the pool about a week or two after surgery. The water provides excellent resistance training, and it does it without the pressure of running on a track or pavement. To facilitate the process, a patient running in the water can wear shin fins. Start off by running in the water for 3 minutes at a time and gradually work your way up to 10 minutes. Always do this exercise in the shallow end of the pool, and don't try running in water that is higher than shoulder height. Doing this exercise in the water provides the resistance needed to exercise the hip properly.


Swimming is a fantastic exercise overall and is particularly effective when you are recovering from hip surgery. If you are not a strong swimmer, used a kick board (it floats) and work on your freestyle kick. If you can swim well, swim two laps of a 50-yard pool. Remember, you have started off by walking and running in the pool, so once you start swimming, you have overcome your original post-surgical pain. Work your way up to six laps in the pool.

Hip Strengthening Through Kicking

Hold onto the edge of the pool and push your feet out toward the center of the pool. Move both of your legs in a flutter kick as if your were swimming. Kick your feet only about 18 to 24 inches. Kick for at least 90 seconds, take a 30-second break and then repeat. Then turn over and do the same kicking exercise while laying on your back, as if you were doing the backstroke.

Curl and Stretch

Stand in the shallow end of the pool and hold onto the edge with both hands. As you support your body with your hands, curl your knees up toward your chest and hold them there for 5 seconds. Uncurl your knees and then straighten your legs and point your toes. Repeat the stretch 10 times. This curl and stretch will promote flexibility in your hips.