If you are 3 – 6 months post-op from your sleeve or by-pass and you are starting to feel more pain around your hips it could be due to your weight loss. This may sound strange since usually most joint and low back pain start to disappear as you lose weight, so what’s going on here? 

One of the reasons that you feel more hip pain after surgery is due to a change in your walking pattern as you lose body fat.

How your obesity changed your walking pattern

Research into the differences in how obese and normal weight people show that there are some very specific patterns that obese people display when they walk. The pattern that the research saw that was unique to people with obesity is “[a] slower gait speed, wider stride width, and longer stance duration while walking compared to normal weight persons.” [1]

Or to put it a different way, people with obesity walk slower with their feet further apart from each other and have more side to side motion. This walking pattern is directly related to the amount of body fat that was stored around your hip, thighs and stomach. A larger amount of body fat in this region effectively locks your hips in place, not allowing the pelvis and surrounding muscles to move through their natural range of motion.  

One of the reasons that you feel more hip pain after bypass surgery is due to a change in your walking pattern.

What happens after you start to lose weight ?

Well in simple terms as you start to lose weight around your hips, thighs and stomach your pelvis becomes less locked in, which improves your walking pattern. Surprisingly it doesn’t take much weight loss to start to see this change. Research shows that  “Small weight loss of 7% over 3 months produced small increases in gait velocity, stride length, stride rate, and swing duration and shortened cycle time, stance, and double support phases…”

In other words, you start to walk faster with your feet moving more forward to back than side to side.

So what does this change in gait have to do with more pain in the hips?

As mentioned above the body fat around your hips, thighs and stomach reduced the movement of your hips as you walked.  This in turn affects the strength of the muscles that move the hips while you walk. Once the body weight drops away your hips will start to move more freely. This in turn challenges your once weak and underused hip muscles. This hip pain you feel after your gastric by-pass is quite possibly muscle soreness. Depending on how much weight you need to lose and how long you’ve had a more restricted walking pattern this soreness may last a few weeks until you’ve completely freed up the hips.

So how do you reduce or get rid of this hip pain?

In the short term, mild pain medication will help but it won’t give you the long term relief you are looking for (and nobody wants a lifetime of medication if you don’t have to – right?). The only way to get rid of this hip pain, or any muscular pain associated with your weight, is to adopt a simple exercise program that assists with weight loss and provides muscular correction. 

Please be aware that not all workout plans are equal when it comes to supporting your weight loss and staying injury free! You can find 100’s of free videos and downloadable workouts online, but these have been designed for an average person without complications. Which is why, if you’ve tried any in the past, they probably didn’t work for you. 

When you’re obese, it’s important to choose the right types of exercise and even better if your program is custom-designed for your particular needs by an experienced coach! 

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