Running After a Hip Replacement

One of the questions we get most often from patients is this: “Can you ever run after a hip replacement?” While we’d like to be able to provide a single definitive “Yes” or “No” answer it turns out it’s not as simple as all that. You might be able to, or you might not. That’s because the wear and tear tests the prosthesis is subjected to by the manufacturer cannot hope to perfectly match the stresses that will be brought to bear on the new joint by different individuals of different ages and different weights with radically different walks. As a result a definitive answer remains elusive.

Can I Run After Hip Replacement Surgery: The Science

Before we get deeper into the question “Can you run after a hip replacement surgery” let’s take a quick look at what the science has to say. The fact is there have been precious few studies on the subject and the ones that have been conducted have, unfortunately, produced contradictory results. For example a 2014 survey of adults 5 years after their hip replacement surgery suggested that running after hip replacement was not likely to produce negative results.

However, around the same time researchers at the University of Delaware who had reviewed a larger sampling of information from hip replacement recipients concluded that many of them did indeed suffer from dislocations, fractures, loosening of the prosthetic and actual damage to the components of the new joint. Since then however, there has been precious little additional study of the subject and so all we have to go on from a scientific standpoint are contradictory results that don’t help much.

What if you Get the Green Light From Your Surgeon?

Since studies are inconclusive surgeons must take things on a case by case basis leaning on their experience and professional judgment. In some cases they will give the patient the green light to begin running after hip replacement surgery once an appropriate recovery period has transpired. Typically this official approval is granted to experienced runners rather than those who want to take up running with a total hip replacement.

Recommended Steps to Start Running After Hip Replacement

Even if the surgeon signs off on the notion of you running with a hip replacement be advised that there are certain recommendations you will be expected to follow as you transition from walking to running. In most cases the steps involved are as follows:

  1. Before you start asking “can you run after a hip replacement” you’ll need to start walking. Once you have the okay get a pair of trekking poles and use them to assist you while you get used to your new hip joint. The walking poles will help take pressure off the joint while you work to re-establish a normal stride and rebuild the muscles in the hip.
  2. Hip replacement and running don’t naturally go together so you’ll need to proceed cautiously. Once you have gained a modicum of strength in the joint you can start building more strength by swimming. Using fins will help you ramp up the intensity of your kicks which will further assist in rebuilding the hip and leg muscles you’ll need for running.
  3. When you are cleared by the physical therapist to begin running you’ll want to do so slowly and only on nice flat surfaces. You’ll also want to pay close attention to your stride. In particular you’re going to want to avoid twisting your new hip joint at all cost since doing so may cause the ball portion of the joint to become dislocated from its socket. You’ll also want to talk with your physical therapist about the best shoes to wear after hip replacement surgery.
  4. Your physical therapist may also recommend using the stationary bike. This will help you strengthen the muscles of the hip and leg and serve to maintain flexibility in the hip. The stationary bike typically carries little risk of damaging the new joint as long as you don’t push things too far too fast.
  5. You will likely feel some pain after each running session when you are starting out. This can be mitigated by icing the joint after each run. Make sure to rest and keep the surgically repaired hip elevated as you apply the ice to it.

Activities to Avoid

Most surgeons and physical therapists will advise that you avoid high impact sports after hip replacement surgery, even if you were given the okay to being running again. Activities like weight lifting, downhill skiing, rollerblading, crossfit, snowboarding and even football where you would be required to make quick changes in direction and run the risk of contact should be avoided. In fact any sport and exercise after hip replacement that carries with it the very real danger of a fall, slip or physical contact or which requires you to jump or make sudden stops and starts (like tennis) should be avoided.

Signs That Something May Have Gone Wrong

If you’ve pushed things too far you may experience a number of symptoms that are your body’s way of answering the question “Can you ever run after a hip replacement”. Those symptoms include:

●        Significant pain between running sessions bad enough to require pain killers.

●        Swelling in the hip and/or down through the groin area.

●        A sense that the joint mechanism has lost integrity.

●        Popping noises or squeaking noises while walking.

●        Lumps in and around the hip joint.


Running after total hip replacement will take time. Perhaps significant time. You’ll need to be patient and persistent, but also realistic. No good can come from pushing yourself if your body is sending you signals to stop. That said, keep in mind that it’s normal to experience some pain when you start running again and you’ll likely experience a degree of inflammation as well. If you adhere to the above steps however and keep in close contact with your physical therapist and doctor chances are fair to good that you’ll be able to resume some amount of running after hip replacement.