I am 62 and had a hip replacement last December, after fracturing my pelvis. I was always active, but am now very wary . I want my new hip to last for as long as possible. I am visually impaired which makes going to a gym or swimming nigh-on impossible.
The quality of hip replacement surgery these days is so good that, barring complications, you can expect many years of excellent service from your new hip. The key is thorough rehabilitation. The post-op physiotherapy is just the start. You will have been given information about what movements to avoid in order not to strain your new joint, especially in the first few months. And the physios should also have given you daily strengthening exercises.
It is essential to do the strengthening programme, so that the many muscles all around the hip joint can start to provide proper support and protection, taking undue strain off the joint. As your muscles will undoubtedly have become weakened on that side in the lead-up to your operation, it will take a good few months of daily work to get them back into reasonable condition. But be reassured, if your muscles are strong and balanced, you will not damage your hip.
At first, you should be doing your strengthening work mainly lying or sitting – using gravity and then a resistance band or leg weight to build the muscles. But your hip must also get used to weight-bearing again. Start by repeatedly shifting weight from one leg to the other, standing with good posture and holding a chair-back lightly for support. Progress to indoor, then outdoor walking and lots of stair climbing. Let pain be your guide for when to stop. I strongly suggest you keep a record of your daily walks, so you can check you are making gradual increases (eg 5 minutes each week), and not overdoing things.
Of special importance, but often neglected, is your “gluteus medius” walking muscle, high up on the side of your bum. To strengthen it, lie on the right side, legs bent and feet and knees together, then open the top knee like a clam shell, keeping feet together. Hold for 5 seconds, squeezing the upper buttock. Release and repeat 10 times daily. For the full exericse, click here. After two months, add in standing on one leg, increasing over the weeks from 5 to 60 seconds.