Health Benefits of Yoga After Hip Replacement

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on April 07, 2023
3 min read

Total hip replacement (THR) is a procedure where a surgeon replaces the hip joint’s bone and connective tissue with artificial materials. This surgical option helps treat hip pain and allows easier movement for people having the following problems:

  • An injury that doesn’t heal properly
  • A chronic illness that affects your joints
  • Normal wear and tear that comes with aging
  • Osteoarthritis symptoms
  • Trauma-related damage, such as a hip fracture or dislocation 

Hip replacement is one of the most successful types of procedures in modern medicine, but your ability to return to normal daily activities after surgery relies on an effective recovery plan.

Thanks to its low-impact poses that boost strength and flexibility, yoga has become a popular strategy for improving movement after surgery.  

But whether you’re a lifelong yogi (a person who practices yoga) or just starting a routine, practicing yoga after hip replacement requires some modifications. Your new joint has a limited range of motion that eases over time with proper care. By ensuring that your yoga practice is safe, you can limit the risk of injuries that can complicate your recovery and you can streamline a smoother path to normal movement. 

Yoga offers both physical and mental health benefits. Studies show that practicing mindful movements helps speed healing times and reduce postoperative hospital stays. 

Yoga helps restore normal physical movement by

  • strengthening muscles around the new joint,
  • improving joint flexibility,
  • relieving stiffness and pain, and
  • allowing good posture.

Yoga can also help patients overcome the mental stressors that often accompany surgery. After surgery, depression and anxiety are common, and research links it with longer recovery timelines and a greater chance of rehospitalization.  

Studies have consistently pointed to yoga’s positive impact on the body’s stress responses, including lowering heart rate, reducing blood pressure, and regulating pain.

By relieving physical stress signals, yoga encourages a healthier mental outlook that can contribute to better post-surgery outcomes. This effect can also reduce inflammation in the body caused by your stress response, lowering the risks of issues that can complicate recovery; these issues include the following: 

As with any physical routine, make sure that you have your doctor’s clearance before practicing yoga after hip replacement surgery. There may be specific precautions you’ll need to consider based on factors like your personal medical history, the surgical method used, and the type of implant. 

For example, if you have a posterior hip replacement, avoid poses that stress hip flexion, like downward dog, seated twist, or any motions that involve crossing your legs. 

But if your doctor uses an anterior surgical approach, it’s important to limit movements that put your hip in extension, such as lunges or pigeon pose. 

A new hip also needs time and patience to reach full mobility, and this timeline differs for everyone. Many people can achieve regular daily movement anywhere from a few weeks to three months after the operation, but returning to more intensive activities can take longer.  

To successfully use yoga to help your healing process, practice under your doctor’s guidance and listen to your body’s cues. Avoid risks like delayed healing and hip dislocation by using the following precautions:

  • Start and advance the intensity of yoga slowly
  • Don’t force your body into a pose, stretch, or rotation
  • Move only until you feel resistance
  • Avoid any movements that cause pain

As you build your hip joint’s stability and strength after surgery, you should be able to extend your yoga practice gradually. But be mindful in every movement, and avoid extreme movements that may cause dislocation or damage.