Hip rehabilitation programme

This rehabilitation programme aims to help restore movement, strength and control around the pelvis and hip area.

The programme will give you the best possible chance of improving and restoring your hip joint, to full function, following an injury, episode of pain or hip replacement. Although there is no guarantee that your pain will completely disappear, the programme will help you re-gain confidence in your hip and find self-management solutions.

The programme can be tailored to your individual needs and stage of rehabilitation. Please do not hesitate to ask your physiotherapist for support if you are unsure about your readiness to start any exercises.

Hip rehabilitation - early stage

After an operation (or flare up of age-related changes, e.g. osteoarthritis) you may develop pain and stiffness around your hip.

We understand this may be unpleasant and distressing. Painkillers can help, please ask your pharmacist or GP for advice. You may need to change your activities, learn to recognise and respond to what hurts and pace yourself. It's important to keep moving to maintain strength and to help your recover. This may help to ease your symptoms and over time your pain and stiffness may settle down.

If you are experiencing consistent pain which is difficult to manage, pain that is impacting your sleep or ability to weight bear fully through your hip, please contact your GP or physiotherapist for advice.

Recognising triggers

Recognising certain repeated movements, tasks or postural positions that may influence your symptoms is important. Here are some examples of common triggers for hip pain.

  • Movements: walking, going up and down the stairs, bending and squatting.
  • Positions: sitting on a low chair/surface, staying in the same position for a long time, sitting cross legged or with legs wide apart, lying on your affected side.
  • Tasks: putting shoes/socks on, in/out of car or bath, significant change in normal activity levels.
  • Individual factors: poor sleep, stress, low activity levels, poor diet, overweight, anxiety, low mood, frustration, smoking and excess alcohol consumption.


Activity changes

Once you know which activities really hurt or worsen your symptoms you'll know what to avoid or limit to help your symptoms settle down.

For example, if walking is painful, rather than stopping completely or putting up with the pain, you could change the duration, frequency or intensity of the activity, and then gradually increase to your previous activity level.

The same goes for climbing stairs. It may be helpful to temporarily take breaks when climbing the stairs or lead with your "good leg", to give your affected side some relief.

If you are in pain, it is important to remain as active as possible, to prevent further or long-term issues.

Early movement and strengthening exercises

It is normal to lose strength in the muscles around your hip following a flare up of pain. Below are some exercises to help you gain more muscle strength, which you should start as soon as you are able to. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort during the exercises, please discuss this with your physiotherapist.

Watch early stage hip exercises (opens in new window) >

Hip rehabilitation - intermediate stage

It is important to continue building on the early-stage exercises until your hip can cope with everyday activities.

During the intermediate stage of the hip rehabilitation programme, aim to maintain the movement you developed in the early stages of your rehabilitation, whilst starting to build strength and improving the function of the hip joint.

How to build strength of your hip

You can build strength in your legs by starting to increase the resistance or the weight. Usually this will reduce the repetitions needed.

To get your body used to strength training: 3 to 4 sets using a low/moderate weight (repeated 8 to 12 times) is recommended for the first 3 to 4 weeks.

Once your body starts to adapt to the exercises, you can progress towards a more advanced programme: this usually involves around 5 sets using heavier weights (repeated 3 to 5 times).

When you lift heavier weights, you are likely to experience more muscle pain and soreness afterwards. This is known as 'DOMS' which stands for ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’.

Therefore, more recovery time is needed between exercise sessions. Usually, when strength training with heavier weights - twice a week is enough.

Pain whilst exercising

As you start to return to more challenging exercises and activities, you may experience some pain. Making small adjustments to your daily routine and activities in response to how your hip feels can support your hip rehabilitation, which may prevent future flare ups and setbacks.

You may experience some mild to moderate discomfort whilst you are exercising, this is usually expected and nothing to worry about. Overtime you will learn your limits and ways to cope with the pain. How much and how long the pain lasts for is something you will discuss with your physiotherapist. The pain you may experience after the exercise does not mean you are damaging the affected area further.

Intermediate strengthening and control exercises

Below are some strengthening and control exercises for the legs.

You may be able to progress these exercises by adding a weight, slowing the movement down or adding a pause halfway through the movement. For guidance with making your exercises more challenging, please discuss further with your physiotherapist.

Watch intermediate stage hip exercises (opens in new window) >