Don’t sit still for ‘dead butt syndrome’

November 1, 2018

Use it or lose it: Those of us with desk jobs have been warned that sitting too long can raise our chances of developing some dread diseases, from heart disease to cancer to diabetes—and can even take years off our lives. But there’s one side effect that you may not have realized is linked to parking your tush in a desk chair all day long, according to an October 29 report by the Huffington Post.

Compressing those gluteals for too long can literally lead to a butt that doesn’t want to “get up and go.” And there’s even a name for it: “Dead butt syndrome,” or “gluteal amnesia” is a condition that occurs when your gluteus medius gets inflamed and forgets to function normally.

“Sitting too long can restrict the blood flow, causing gluteal amnesia, which can lead to hip pain, lower backache and problems with your ankles. The glutes will fail to fire properly even when performing exercises targeting the glutes,” celebrity fitness trainer Donovan Green told the news outlet.

 What’s more, Kelly Starrett, a physical therapist and founder of Stand Up Kids, told the HuffPost that our glutes are not built to bear weight for long periods. “If you imagine making a panini sandwich where you take high pressure and high temperature and make a grilled cheese, sitting on your glutes all day is a little like this,” he said.

“The sustained flexed position of the hip and the compression of the tissues sets us up for the perfect storm of shut[ting] down glute function, or in the vernacular of the people, ‘dead butt,’” he added.

People experiencing dead butt syndrome may feel the familiar sensation of a body part “falling asleep.” The sensation can range from mild to severe—and can be brief or long-lasting.

“Sitting for extended periods of time has been shown in multiple studies to have a major impact on how well we can contract and use our glutes effectively,” Green said.

He noted that when your glutes shut down due to lack of activity and stimulus, it causes strain on other muscles and joints and produces an effect where weaker muscles have to do the job of the stronger gluteus maximus.

Left untreated, this can lead to something called “synergistic dominance,” where the smaller helper muscles of the hip and leg are now taking over movement and controlling the forces loaded on the hips, spine, and low back. Muscle tightness in the hips is also a major culprit of dead butt syndrome

So what’s to be done? Jeff Bell, co-founder and master trainer at Belleon Body NYC, told the Huffington Post, “The gluteus maximus was built for power and speed and needs to be fed a regular diet of climbing, squatting, running, lunging, and walking, if it is to be kept in peak condition, or at least appear in top shape.”

“A good rule to remember is, for every hour of sitting, you need to take ten minutes of standing and moving around to reactivate and keep those butt muscles from falling asleep,” he said. Also, clenching your butt muscles occasionally throughout the day might help. “This will fire up those glutes and get them back to moving again,” he said.

Research contact: @NicolePajer

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