Can You Play Pickleball With An Artificial Hip?

Can You Play Pickleball With An Artificial Hip?

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Yes, you can play pickleball after having an artificial hip. According to several sources, including orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, playing pickleball is a relatively low-impact activity that is unlikely to cause further damage to your hip as long as you take the proper precautions. However, it is important to gradually build up your strength and endurance before returning to the sport.

When Can You Start Playing Pickleball Again After Hip Replacement Surgery?

Most surgeons recommend waiting at least 6 weeks after hip replacement surgery before returning to pickleball. This allows time for the soft tissues around the hip joint to heal. Jumping into activities too soon can disrupt the healing process.

After 6 weeks, you can begin doing light pickleball drills and practice swings. Start with just 5-10 minutes at first and gradually increase your practice time as you rebuild strength and stamina. Avoid sudden movements or quick stops and starts which can strain your new hip joint.

Expect that it will take 3-6 months to return to your full pre-surgery pickleball abilities. The key is to increase activity slowly over this period. Rushing back too quickly often leads to overuse injuries or wear on the hip components. Be patient and listen to your body.

What Precautions Should You Take When Playing Pickleball With a Hip Replacement?

Here are some important precautions to keep in mind when returning to pickleball after hip replacement surgery:

Invest in Proper Footwear and Orthotics

Sturdy athletic shoes with good arch support and shock absorption are essential. They reduce impact on the hip joint during quick movements and lunges. Custom orthotics may also help improve gait and alignment. Avoid playing pickleball in only socks or flimsy shoes.

Warm Up and Stretch Thoroughly

Take time to warm up muscles and increase your heart rate before playing. This reduces injury risk. Also stretch hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes on both legs. Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion in the hip.

Start Slowly and Listen to Your Body

When first returning to pickleball, begin with light drills and practice just 1-2 days per week. Slowly increase the intensity, duration, and frequency as your hip strengthens. Stop immediately if you feel pain. Pushing through discomfort can cause damage.

Maintain Proper Form and Technique

Be cognizant of your form, balance, and weight distribution when hitting shots. Keep your core engaged and knees slightly bent. Poor technique can place undue stress on your hip joint. Get coaching if needed.

Avoid Pivoting or Twisting Excessively

Pivoting hard on your leg or twisting can strain your hip. Try to square your shoulders and hips to the net before hitting shots to avoid excess rotation. If you must turn and twist, do so slowly and gently.

Use Anti-Inflammatory Medication if Needed

Activity can cause some postoperative inflammation around the hip. Using NSAIDs or ice can help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort after playing. Check with your doctor about proper medication use.

Consider Playing Doubles Pickleball

Playing doubles allows for more rest time between points so your hip isn’t under constant stress. It also reduces the amount of court you have to cover during a match. Singles may be too demanding on your hip initially.

What Exercises Help Prepare Your Hip for Returning to Pickleball?

Doing regular hip-strengthening and low-impact cardio exercises helps rebuild strength and endurance before playing pickleball. Try these activities after getting clearance from your surgeon:

  • Walking – Start with short, easy walks and work up to longer distances. Walking gets your hip joint moving and improves circulation.
  • Swimming or water aerobics – The buoyancy of water reduces impact on the hip joint while providing resistance.
  • Stationary cycling – Cycling strengthens the hip flexor and gluteal muscles. Start slow and increase resistance over time.
  • Leg lifts – Lift your leg out to the side, front, and back to target all hip muscle groups. Use ankle weights for added resistance.
  • Balance exercises – Stand on one leg, walk heel-to-toe, use a balance board, etc. Balance helps with pickleball lunges and weight shifts.
  • Wall sits – Lean back against a wall at a 45 degree angle to strengthen hip and thigh muscles.
  • Hip bridges – Lift your hips up to strengthen glutes and hamstrings. Keep your core engaged.
  • Calf and shin stretches – Tight calf muscles contribute to poor gait mechanics. Stretch them to improve ankle mobility.

Take it slow with exercises and stop immediately if you have hip pain. It’s ideal to work with a physical therapist to develop the perfect hip strengthening program for pickleball.

What Changes Should You Make to Your Pickleball Gear or Game Play?

Along with physical conditioning, some modifications to your gear and game strategy will take pressure off your new hip:

  • Use a lightweight pickleball paddle – Heavy paddles require more muscular effort and twist force. Lighter paddles around 7-8 oz reduce strain.
  • Get paddle grips or overgrips – Cushioned or textured grip tape absorbs some shock and torque on ball impact. It’s easier on your hands and joints.
  • Consider your paddle length – Longer paddles around 17-18 inches allow you to reach shots with less hip twisting.
  • Use softer indoor balls – Indoor balls don’t bounce as high as outdoor balls. Less force is needed to return them.
  • Position yourself wisely – Avoid covering the middle back position which requires the most movement. Play closer to the NVZ.
  • Communicate with partners – Tell partners about your hip replacement so they can cover shots that may strain you.
  • Take more recovery time – Rest and hydrate adequately between matches. Don’t overdo it.

Making smart adjustments enables you to enjoy pickleball safely as you recover from hip surgery. Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you need.

What Are the Long-Term Outlook and Risks of Playing Pickleball with an Artificial Hip?

With proper precautions, most people with hip replacements can play pickleball long-term without complications. However, there are still some risks to consider:

  • Wear and tear – The constant starting, stopping, and twisting in pickleball may accelerate wear on hip components over time. Annual checkups help monitor this.
  • Loosening – Hard impacts or falls while playing can cause the artificial hip to shift position or loosen from bone. Revision surgery may be required if loosening is severe.
  • Dislocation – Aggressive pivoting in pickleball risks partial or total dislocation of the hip prosthesis. Dislocation often necessitates revision surgery.
  • Changes in leg length – Leg length differences after hip replacement affect gait and can increase strain on the hip joint. Custom orthotics can help compensate.
  • Premature component failure – While rare, breakage or cracking of the artificial hip can result from high stress activities. This requires replacement surgery to repair.
  • Post-surgical pain – Some patients have chronic hip pain or stiffness after surgery. Pickleball may aggravate these symptoms.

To minimize risks, have your hip evaluated annually and immediately report any new hip pain or mechanical symptoms. While low-impact, pickleball does carry some risk for those with artificial hips. Weigh risks and benefits with your orthopedist. With sensible precautions, you can safely play pickleball for years after hip replacement. Don’t let an artificial hip stop you from enjoying this great sport!

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