Water-based Activities

Many of us take part in water-based activities - we can really feel the physical and emotional benefits.

Exercising in the water is popular with us hippies. For some of us, this is hydrotherapy. For others, aqua walking and swimming.

It can feel great being in water as, depending on the activity, there's often no downward pressure on your hips. You can feel really light, supported and powerful. Being in water can also help relieve pain for some of us.

Water features in many of our sports and hobbies too, such as surfing and kayaking.



Tina loves hitting the waves, and even teaches surfing! As you will have read in her story, she needed to adapt her surfing techniques.

Listen to Tina talk about her surfing and paddle boarding experiences and how she has adapted these activities.

hips icon

Top tip

Keep your core and hips strong. Have a good warm-up before you surf and keep your hips warm when you come out of the water. Get a decent wetsuit and a good dryrobe.

Canoeing and kayaking

To go canoeing or kayaking, you sit in a small boat and propel yourself using a paddle. It's a form of no-impact exercise, and can help with cardio fitness and working your muscles - particularly your arm muscles.

In a seated canoe you sit on a seat within the boat, so the higher sitting position can be more comfortable for some hippies.

You sit lower in a kayak, but as hippy Jen explains, open kayaks can be more comfortable as your legs aren't restricted within a boat.

Watch Jen and her husband Chris share their experiences and offer their top tips for kayaking with hip dysplasia.

Paddle boarding

Paddle boarding is an activity where a person stands, kneels or lies on a surfboard or paddle board, and propels themselves along using either their arms or a paddle. Paddle boarding can be a great option for hippies who struggle with sitting for long periods, or need 'no impact' activities.

Paddle boarding is considered relatively easy to get the hang of and many find it calming and stress relieving. Unlike surfing, you don’t need waves!

There are lots of different types of paddle boards and paddles. If you want to have a go, find a local centre to learn the basics, get advice on equipment and most importantly, how to stay safe on and in the water.

Our hippy Annick loves it! Take a look at Annick out on her paddle board, demonstrating how paddle boarding works your core, leg and arm muscles. Paddle boarding can also help your cardio fitness, balance and flexibility.

Aqua walking and jogging

Running in deep water is a brilliant way of exercising without impact. It's a really effective way to build cardio fitness, as well as stamina. You'll need a type of aqua belt that acts as a flotation aid. You can purchase an aqua belt for around £12. Then, just head down to your local pool or lido to try it out.

Swimming pool

Hippy Annick says: 

I would recommend taking it gently to begin with - find out what is comfortable for you, both pre- and post-op. As you acclimatise to exercising in the water, try pushing yourself harder. Whatever you can do on land, you can do in water: intervals, fartlek sessions and tempo work. Mix things up a bit. I've included some 'on land' examples below to give you an idea of the different sessions you can plan in the water.

An example of a fartlek session on land looks like this:

  • Warm-up: 15–20 min jog
  • Fartlek: 20 min. Keep running, repeating sections of 2 minutes of slow running followed by 30 seconds of fast running. Repeat until 20 mins are up. Another option is to take some natural landmarks, such as lamp posts, and use them as your guiding light. Run past two lamp posts fast, then recover for the next 3.
  • Cool down: 10–15 min jog

An example of an interval session on land looks like this:

  • Warm-up: 10–15 min jog + pre-run stretching and running drills
  • Intervals
  • Set 1: 5x2min at medium effort with 2 minutes of active rest between reps
  • Rest: 4 min
  • Set 2: 5x2min at maximum effort with 2 minutes of active rest between reps
  • Cool down: 10–15 min jog
  • Adjust times accordingly to suit your ability.


Alongside physical activities in water – enjoyed just for fun or for exercise, water has played a huge role in getting many of us moving after our surgeries. For some of us, it's a way of exercising free from pain.

Hydrotherapy is physiotherapy in a pool. You undertake a series of exercises and movements. Many of us hippies have found hydrotherapy played a large part in assisting us after surgery.

After surgery for hip dysplasia, you're often not supposed to put your full weight through your operated leg. For a period of time after surgery, you often use crutches, which can make moving feel very awkward and restricted. As a result, exercising in water without the need for crutches can feel incredibly freeing and therapeutic.

Hydrotherapy played a huge role in assisting Kate after her surgery.


After surgery, Bea and Aoife also received hydrotherapy.

Discover how water-based therapy has been helpful for them:

The therapeutic value of water is not just physical – but offers much for our mental and spiritual health. Access to the water – both for outdoor sports and activities and for specific rehabilitative purposes should be available for everyone.

Karen recognised the physical and wellbeing benefits of hydrotherapy for rehabilitation and maintenance of hip dysplasia and other health conditions too. She was determined that hydrotherapy should be made available for all those in need in her community. Her story is below.

Swimming pool
hips icon

Top tip

Look for a hydrotherapy pool near you and book in well in advance of your surgery.