Dead Butt Syndrome (Gluteal Amnesia)

We all know that sitting for long periods of time is not great for your body. In fact, research has linked sitting too much to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. 

However, did you know that sitting can cause Dead Butt Syndrome, or gluteal amnesia? The condition might make you laugh, but it’s a very real problem to have!

If you’ve been experiencing pain in your hips, knees, or lower back, you work a job that requires you to sit often, or you suffer from a pain condition that makes it hard for you to get up and move around, contact Fitness Matters today. We can properly assess your condition, find out if it’s DBS, and treat it accordingly.

What is Dead Butt Syndrome?

Dead Butt Syndrome (DBS) develops when the gluteus medius (one of the three main muscles of the butt) stops working the way it should. This can happen if you spend too much time sitting in a chair, on the couch, or in your car.  

Even if you’re relatively active, you may develop DBS simply from not exercising your glutes enough. The same type of muscle imbalance can happen in highly active individuals who have very strong quads or hamstrings. 

The gluteus medius is supposed to help stabilize the pelvis. If it fails to work correctly, this can result in lower back pain and hip pain, or even knee and ankle pain, as your body attempts to make up for the imbalance.

When one muscle on either side of a joint contracts, a nerve signal is sent to its opposing muscle to relax. So, when you spend hours sitting on your butt, your hip flexors are contracting while your glutes rest. Over time, your glutes will lose strength. 

Symptoms of Dead Butt Syndrome

If you’re dealing with DBS, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Numbness in your buttocks
  • Pain and stiffness, especially in the hips, lower back, and knees
  • Shooting pain down your legs 
  • Inflammation of the hip bursa, resulting in swelling
  • Pain in your calf muscles

How is Dead Butt Syndrome Diagnosed?

There are a few ways Fitness Matters can diagnose gluteal amnesia. First, they may perform  the Trendelenburg test.  This is an exam where you will lift one leg in front of your body while standing up. If your pelvis tilts down on the side of the lifted leg, this reveals weakness in the gluteus medius on the opposing side.

A Grandview, Worthington, or Pickerington physical therapist may also study the curve of your spine, as it can also suggest DBS. Your lumbar spine (or lower back) should naturally form an S shape, so if it exhibits more extreme curvature, this may be a sign that your hip flexors are so tight they’re pulling the spine forward.

How can I prevent Dead Butt Syndrome?

You can prevent developing Dead Butt Syndrome by getting up more often, moving around, and keeping those glutes strong!  Make sure you’re taking frequent breaks from your chair throughout the day by walking around or doing stretches at your desk. 

Most importantly, when you exercise or work out, don’t forget to target your behind! You can do bridges, planks, squats, and leg lifts while lying down to make sure you’re keeping your glutes in the best shape possible.  Sometimes, even adding a band or ankle weight for extra resistance can be beneficial.

If you absolutely have to sit for a good portion of your day, at least switch things up a bit. Use an exercise ball instead of a flat chair, or switch to a standing desk if you can.

Contact Fitness Matters for more information

A physical therapist in Pickerington, Grandview, or Worthington can work with you on targeted exercises and stretches to make sure you’re staying fit and in the best shape possible. This is especially true if you’re in pain — it’s best not to ignore your symptoms! 

Contact our clinic today to find out if your pain could be due to DBS, or another condition. Our physical therapists will be happy to help in any way they can.