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Putting On Shoes After Hip Replacement —
New hip patients often ask the shoe tying questions pretty early in their recovery at home. The real question to be answered is “When can i bend past 90 degrees after hip replacement?” since this is the limit from your surgeon.
Shoe tying is a daily tasks we take for granted however after a total hip replacement it turns into a task you will not be able to perform right away.
Posterior hip replacement (rear incision) patients will have an 8 week limit on tying your own shoes bending forward at the waist. Anterior hip replacement (front incision) patients should check with your surgeon’s office as they may allow forward bending right away. Most surgeons, even those doing anterior approaches, tend to be more cautious and limit bending to tie your shoes as well for at least 4 weeks but its worth double checking.
Clearly when you can tie your shoes after hip replacement will depend on your surgery type. So how can you get around this shoe tying dilemma? You do have options so no worries and its only a temporary restriction after hip replacement.
Can I Use The Golfer Lift Technique to Tie My Shoes?
Your physical therapist may have shown you a bending technique called the ‘golfer lift’ . This is named for the motion where a golfer lifts one leg off the ground picking up or teeing up his or her golf ball. Golfers often use this technique to lessen strain in the low back and hip regions in normal circumstances (not related to a total hip replacement).
While this golfers lift technique is safe for bending and does meet the hip precaution rules, this golfer lift is not a recommended technique for tying shoes after total hip replacement. Why? You will require balance and coordination for a multi step task like shoe tying. The golfer lift requires one hand to be supporting yourself thus only one hand is available for use.
You should use the golfer lift technique only in safe simple pick up tasks only. Picking up no more than 1-2 lbs off the floor or anything requiring 2 hands is not allowed.
For hip replacement patients, this lift is a useful technique to safely pick objects off the floor. This is done by lifting the surgery leg off the ground behind while reaching down to the floor. It is mandatory to have arm support from a solid surface such as a table or countertop while doing this motion to provide proper safety and prevent any falls.
Also anyone with balance issues or issues on the opposite leg should not perform this motion as it does require a strong opposite leg to perform safely.
Shoe Tying Alternatives After Hip Replacement
Wearing Heelless Shoes or Slippers With Your New Hip
Some new total hip patients like to wear shoes or slippers without an enclosed heel the first month or two after surgery. This removes this shoe tying task completely.
However, not having a snug fitting shoe surrounding your foot does bring in a slight decrease in overall foot support when compared to an athletic shoe.
I have my home care patients perform standing hip exercises in the home after surgery. Unfortunately heelless shoes don’t fare well during some of these activities including toe and heel raises. Make sure your shoes after hip replacement provide grip and cushioning for maximum safety and comfort.
Using Elastic Shoelaces After Total Hip Replacement
Wait, aren’t elastic lacers for toddlers who can’t tie their own shoes? Well yes but guess who else can’t tie their own shoes right now? You, along with millions of other mobility limited people around the world. Elastic shoelaces provide a snug fit using your own original shoes allowing them to stretch to make easy on and off of your shoes.
To help you get your heel your the shoe without bending too far forward you will also need a long handled shoehorn. I recommend you obtain a long handled shoehorn which comes as part of a standard hip kit after your hip replacement.
Wearing Slip On or Slide In Shoes with No Laces
Wearing slip on shoes are an easy answer for not being able to bend over and tie your shoes. Seeing there are no shoelaces period. Most athletic shoe companies have multiple non-lace options that will provide very good support to your new hip.
Again, you will likely need the long handled shoe horn to assist in getting your heel into the shoe safely. The shoe horn allows you safety without bending at the waist beyond 90 degrees. I recommended not wearing loafers or shoes with limited foot support after hip replacement due to poor cushioning.
Leaving Your Shoes Tied After Hip Replacement
Of course you can leave your shoes tied if there is enough stretch room to get your foot in. Many people do this in their everyday lives and get by just fine with normal everyday walking and mobility in and out of the home.
After hip replacement you will need to use a long handled shoehorn for this task.
Leaving your shoes tied would not be a recommended technique from a physical therapist safety perspective. Loose fitting shoes simply do not provide proper support to your foot. Not having this support from the ground up would be a fall risk concern and not recommend by your surgeon either. Using one of the alternative shoe wear options listed above would certainly be a safer option.
Having Someone Else Tie Your Shoes
Having someone else tie your shoes was the option left until the end since this would be the last choice. You will eventually want to gain independence from needing help for such simple tasks such as getting dressed and putting on your shoes.
For those with vertigo, balance and other issues please let your family member tie your shoes early on. Wait until you regain strength after your hip replacement to resume these tasks. Remember this is a temporary restriction and you will return normal shoe tying very soon. Take this time to heal up properly and allow someone else to help you out with these minor tasks for the time being.
How to Tie Shoes After Hip Replacement (Once Precautions Are Lifted)
You can return to normal shoe tying activities once your hip precautions are lifted and you are allowed to bend forward at the waist. If at any time you feel a pull and strain in the hip region once you restart your shoe tying, most PTs would recommend holding off another week or longer until you can return to this bending motion without any pulling or strain.
When bending at the waist after hip precautions are lifted you should be symptom free. You may not feel completely comfortable bending over at first after your precautions are clear however if you are symptom free you should have no issues in performing.
Shoe Tying Conclusions After Hip Replacement
- Posterior hip replacement (rear incision) patients will have an 8 week limit on tying your own shoes
- Anterior hip replacement (front incision) patients should check with your surgeon’s office. Most will limit bending to tie your shoes as well for at least 4 weeks.
For new hip patients, instead of asking the question “How long after total hip replacement can i tie my shoes?”, you should be more invested into finding alternative solutions to the restriction you likely knew about heading into the surgery. From shoe wear changes to adaptive tools such as long handled shoehorns and elastic shoelaces, your physical therapist or occupational therapist will show you options to get your through the early days.
You can return to normal bending and shoe tying activities within the first few months after surgery. Be a ‘patient patient’ and allow your new hip to integrate with your body without any issues.