People recovering from hip replacement surgery are advised to do hip-strengthening exercises each day. Exercise:

  • Increases muscle flexibility and strength, which helps protect joints
  • Promotes healing by increasing blood flow

About 6 weeks after surgery, most patients are able to scale back and do exercises 3 or 4 times a week.

See Total Hip Replacement Surgery Recovery

Below are hip-strengthening exercises that doctors and physical therapists commonly recommended to hip replacement patients. Patients may be advised to do 10 or 15 repetitions of each exercise a few times a day.

Quad squeezes
The quadriceps muscles are located at the front of the thigh and help support and control hip joints. To do this exercise, a patient will:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Contract the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh
  • During the contraction, the leg should be kept straight, so that it may seem the back of the knee is pressing down
  • Hold for 5 seconds and release

Quad squeezes can strengthen the quadriceps muscles without moving or putting strain on the hips.

See Total Hip Replacement for Hip Arthritis

Glut squeezes
The gluteus muscles are located at back of the hip and help support and control hip joints. To do this exercise, a patient will:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Squeeze the buttocks, contracting the gluteus muscles
  • Hold for 5 seconds and release

Like quad squeezes, glut squeezes can strengthen the gluteus muscles without stressing the new joint.

See Advantages and Disadvantages of Anterior Hip Replacement

Ankle pumps
Exercising the muscles of the lower leg will help maintain their strength and improve blood circulation.

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended and ankle propped up on a towel or blanket
  • Flex foot, pushing the heel away from the body and toes pointing up and towards the body
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Point the toes, moving the heel towards the calf and toes pointing away from the body
  • Hold for 5 seconds

Ankle pumps stimulate blood flow in the leg and strengthen the lower leg, which can help support the hip.


Heel slides
These exercise engage both the quadriceps muscles and the gluteal muscles. To do heel slides, a patient will:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Flex the new hip and its knee, bringing the knee off the bed and sliding the foot along the bed
  • Keep the other leg straight
  • Hold for 10 seconds

Heel slides work both the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, and will help improve the patient’s range of motion.

Hip abductions
Abduction exercises require moving a limb away from the body. A reclined hip abduction requires a patient to:

  • Lie on his or her back with legs extended
  • Keep the affected leg straight and toes pointed upward, slide the leg to the side, moving away from the centerline of the body
  • Move the leg back to centerline (not past centerline—angling the leg inward can put the hip at risk for dislocation)
  • Keep the other leg extended and straight

Eventually, hip abduction exercises can be done standing up, with the hands braced on the back of a chair. When and if the patient is ready, a physical therapist may demonstrate how to add resistance using an elastic band, making the exercise more challenging.

Hip abduction exercises help stabilize the pelvis and encourage a normal walking gait.

Knee Extensions
These exercises can be done sitting upright in a firm chair.

  • Raise the foot and extend the knee until the leg is straight
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Slowly lower the foot until it rests on the floor again

Knee extensions help strengthen the quadriceps and improve knee and hip flexibility.


Straight leg raises
These exercises are typically introduced a few weeks after surgery.

  • The patient should lie on his or her back
  • Bend the unoperated leg so that the knee is up and the bottom of the foot is resting on the floor
  • Straighten the operated leg so that it is flat against the bed
  • Lift the straightened leg up, raising the toes toward the ceiling. The heel should be 3 to 6 inches off the bed
  • Gently lower the leg to the bed

This list of exercises is not exhaustive. In fact, there are dozens hip- and leg-strengthening exercises that may be appropriate for hip replacement patients. An orthopedist or physical therapist can develop an exercise program tailored to an individual patient’s needs.

Dr. William Winternitz is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He has more than 20 years of experience practicing orthopedics and sports medicine at hospitals and clinics, and he served as a physician for collegiate and professional athletics teams.