water exercise hip replacement

5 water exercises for hip replacement recovery

Hip pain and joint stiffness can be challenging to manage. You might struggle with soreness and inflammation. It hurts to move, and it hurts when you don’t move. Day-to-day activities, such as walking and going to the grocery, become more than errands but dreaded tasks.

And when you’ve lived with hip pain and found no relief, it might be time for hip replacement surgery.

Hip replacement surgery is a common procedure. Each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 450,000 people receive a total hip replacement. 

However, it can be a grueling recovery process that can leave you feeling discouraged. Fortunately, there’s a way to help take the stress out of the healing process: water exercises. 

Water exercises are an excellent way to help you recover from your surgery. They’re safe and easy to do, and they don’t require a lot of equipment or even very much space. A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa combines the benefits of a pool with the therapy of a hot tub, allowing you to exercise year-round. 

water exercises hip replacement
About one in 10 Americans visit the doctor for hip pain each year.

Hip pain and Americans

Hip pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal issues, second only to back pain when it comes to the number of patients seeking treatment.

According to statistics from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), nearly 500,000 people visit a doctor for hip problems each year in the United States — that’s one in 10 people!

The hip joint is particularly susceptible to injuries, overload, and osteoarthritis. It is a ball-and-socket joint, with the head of the femur fitting into the socket. Cartilage between the bones allows the joint to move well. However, the cartilage can be worn away, strained, or damaged.

The wear-and-tear of the joint can lead to osteoarthritis. But hip pain can be caused by other conditions, including bursitis, iliotibial band syndrome, muscle strains, infection, and fractures. 

For those with arthritis, the condition will progressively reduce the quality of life. Research shows that people with arthritis in the hip are less physically active than the general population.

While there are a variety of ways to manage and treat hip pain, the most frequent treatments are prescription medicines and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory.

However, aquatic exercise and therapy can be particularly beneficial for those who are living with hip pain or recovering from hip replacement surgery. The water is a therapeutic environment, ideal for structured exercise, general movement, and pain relief. In addition, it can be a safe space that helps protect against falls and further injury.

aquatic therapy hip replacement
Warm water is a therapeutic environment for exercise. A Michael Phelps swim spa can help you incorporate post-surgery aquatic therapy into your daily routine.

Aquatic therapy in a swim spa

Water exercise can help you gain strength and range of motion, which will make it easier for you to get around after your surgery.

But what if you want to avoid driving to the gym or exercising in a pool when the water is cold? Are water exercise classes inconvenient? The lap lanes always full?

A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa is a convenient way to get in your exercise routine, even when you’re recovering from hip replacement therapy. The warm water helps relieve swelling and pain, making it easier for you to move around and regain range of motion. The hydrostatic pressure can also help reduce swelling in joints, which also means less pain.

The swim spa’s propulsion system creates an endless water current, which provides resistance for water walking, aqua jogging, rowing, and strength training. The swim area is also free of obstacles, so you can move around with ease and safety during your aquatic therapy routine.

Fully insulated and designed to be used year-round, the swim spas have a built-in heater to keep the water at your perfect temperature. For aquatic therapy, especially after hip replacement surgery, the water should be between 92 and 95 degrees. 

water exercises hip replacement
A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa is a convenient way to get in your exercise routine, even when you’re recovering from hip replacement therapy.

Water exercises after hip replacement

These exercises are easy to do and don’t require any special equipment. Water’s natural resistance can help you get stronger, while improving mobility, flexibility, and balance. However, you can incorporate resistance bands and other aquatic fitness equipment into your routine. 

Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any exercise program, especially after a total hip replacement. Confirm with your surgeon or doctor, too, that it’s safe to go in the water.


A foundational exercise on land, you can also do squats in the swim spa to help strengthen your quads. Stand in the swim spa with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Sit your hips back and down, as if you were going to sit in a chair. Lower down as low as is comfortable. Stand back up to finish one squat. For greater stability, you can hold onto the side of the swim spa.

Leg lifts

Stand in the swim spa with your feet hip width apart. Lift one leg out to the side, pausing at the top. Slowly lower down. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on the same leg before repeating onto the other side. Be sure to hold onto the side of the swim spa if you struggle with balance.

Ankle mobility exercise

Start this exercise by standing in a strong position, feet hip width apart and your core engaged. Lift one leg out in front, holding it near the surface of the water but still submerged. Pump your ankle up and down 10 times before repeating on the other side. To make this exercise more challenging, you can wear ankle fins.

Hamstring curl

Stand tall, keeping your hips and shoulders in line. Engage your core as you lift your heel toward your backside. Bring your foot back down to the bottom of the swim spa. Pause and repeat for a total of 10 to repetitions. Switch legs. Perform the movement with the opposite leg.

To make this exercise more of a challenge: Wear ankle fins, increase the number of repetitions, or slow down the movement.

Flutter kicks

Use your hands to hold on to the stainless steel bar of the swim spa. Float your legs out behind you so that your heels are at the surface of the water. Just as if you were swimming, kick your legs in a rhythmic motion. Kick for about a minute, resting as needed.  

The water is a great place to start if you’re recovering from hip replacement surgery and looking for ways to get back on your feet. Water exercises are gentle on the joints and muscles, and they provide a supportive environment that makes it easier for you to move without pain.

swim spa investment
A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa offers space to swim, exercise, and relax without ever leaving home.

How to buy an at-home aquatic therapy pool

Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of water exercise, recreation, and relaxation year-round — even in the winter? Having a Master Spas swim spa at home allows you to enjoy the benefits of a pool without the maintenance. You can click here to get more backyard ideas and picture what a stationary swimming pool would look like in your space. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about swim spa ownership. Wondering how much a swim spa costs? You can request a quote here