Can I still run after a hip replacement?

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Q. I was an active runner before my hip replacement. Is it okay to return to jogging several times a week?

A. Hip replacements help relieve pain and improve function for people with worn-out hip joints. However, replacement joints also can wear out over time and require what's called a revision surgery. Therefore, activities that may increase stress or wear on the joint are often discouraged.

Yet, the medical evidence on this topic is surprisingly sparse. For example, one study followed more than 600 people with hip replacements for an average of five years, but only 23 ran after the surgery. Although none of the runners had bad outcomes, the sample size was much too small to green-light running as a safe post-surgery exercise.

Other studies have shown an increased rate of wear of the prosthetic joints and a higher rate of revision surgeries among people who performed high-impact activities, including running.

The right level of activity after a hip replacement depends on the person and is best discussed with your doctor. You also might want to consider another type of exercise rather than running, like cycling or swimming, which place less weight and stress on the hips.

— by William Kormos, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men's Health Watch