Dead Butt Syndrome: It’s a Real Thing! What You Should Know
01 Nov, 2021
For you, working from home has been great! No morning traffic jams, pajama day is every day (below the waist during virtual meetings), and no more fears of pooping at work. We love the convenience of working from home as much as the next person, but your tushy may have a problem with it.
Aside from grabbing a snack from the fridge, how many times have you stood up today? After all, you’re in the comfort of your home (so no finding an excuse to leave your cubicle). Sitting prolonged hours every day, especially for a desk job, unfortunately comes with health side effects. One in particular? Dead butt syndrome.
Despite the silly name, it’s legit. If you’re sitting at your desk all day, you could be at risk. Let’s dive into what the health condition is and what you can do about it.
What is Dead Butt Syndrome?
Before you start to panic, this condition does not mean your butt will actually die. Dead butt syndrome is when your gluteal muscles grow weak from prolonged sitting and don’t function normally. You may hear some doctors refer to it as “gluteal amnesia,” which is the clinical term.
If you began working from home this past year, this can happen to you.
Inactivity is the root cause. Simply put, our bodies aren’t designed to lounge around all day. Movement engages our muscles and keeps the blood flowing! If you have a sedentary lifestyle, whether you work a desk job or simply don’t get out much, you’re at risk for dead butt syndrome.
Active individuals aren’t out of the clear just yet. Even if you exercise often, failure to stretch before and after leads to muscle stiffness, including in the glutes. Performing the exercise incorrectly can also contribute, especially if you’re not using the right muscle groups. In other words, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Symptoms of Gluteal Amnesia
If you’ve ever brought your phone in the bathroom for a long “poop” session, you’re probably familiar with that tingling feeling when your legs and butt going to sleep. Similarly, dead butt syndrome feels like that numbness or soreness in the butt and hip areas. You may also feel pain in other areas, including your lower back and legs.
How to Combat Dead Butt Syndrome
Fortunately, there are ways you can treat a “dead” butt without any type of medication or surgery. The solution begins with making the following adjustments in your daily routine.
Proper Sitting Posture
Just like there is a proper position to poop, there’s a proper position to work. To start, take a look at how you’re sitting. If you’re hunched over your laptop on a bed or couch, it’s time to get an office desk and chair.
Improper posture, such as slumping or slouching, can misalign your spine and cause several other problems with your joints. The ideal sitting position is with both feet on the floor, shoulders relaxed, and elbows at your sides between a 90 and 120 degree angle. Additionally your chair should be well-cushioned to support your hips, thighs, and back.
Anyone who plans to sit for several hours throughout the day for work needs the best back and butt support system.
Incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Get up for about 5 minutes or so per hour to do some leg stretches at your desk. A helpful alternative: get a standing desk. Not only can it help prevent gluteal amnesia, but a study shows it can also boost productivity.
Since muscle stiffness and limited blood circulation are results of prolonged sitting, the key is to get active. (This means you’ll need to take an actual lunch break to get those buns moving!)
Consider walking to a lunch spot that is walking distance from your office. If you work from home, go up and down the stairs a few times, or outside for a stroll around your neighborhood. The more you move, the happier your glutes!
Exercises to Activate Your Glutes
Although there are ways to treat gluteal amnesia, taking preventative measures is the best way to go. The glutes play a major role in balancing the pelvis and stabilizing the hips and spine. In other words, build a butt of steel.
Here are a few easy yet effective workouts you can do at home to target and strengthen the glutes.
Start by standing with your feet together and hands on your hips. Take a large step, one foot in front of the other, dropping your body straight down so that your front knee stays behind the toe. Lowering and raising your body in this position is one lunge. You can do about 10 reps to get the glutes warmed up, then switch legs and repeat.
Take a wide stance and sit back as if you were lowering into a chair. Make sure your knees stay behind the toes and your chest is up (you can keep your hands out in front for balance). Doing about one or two sets of 10 reps to fire up those butt muscles. (Squats can also help relieve constipation!)
Start down on all fours, hands directly in line with your shoulders and knees in line with the hips. Make sure your back is flat and your abs are pulled in tight. Lift one leg, keeping your knee bent in a 90 degree angle and foot parallel to the ceiling. To maintain balance, you’ll naturally have to squeeze your gluteal muscles. Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower and repeat with the other leg.
Lay down flat on your back, hips bent, knees bent, and feet on the floor. Keeping your hands by your sides, lift your butt off the ground and hold it up for a few seconds. Lower it back down as 10–12 reps.
Lateral Leg Lifts
Lastly, you’ll want to work those hip flexor muscles! Lay down on your side, propped up on your elbow. Take the top leg and lift it straight up and down without touching the other. Repeat this movement for 10–12 reps and switch sides.
Keep in mind, you should feel the glutes working in each exercise (if not, you may be doing it incorrectly).
All in all, staying active throughout the day is the best way to prevent dead butt syndrome. A sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk. If you’ve incorporated daily stretching and physical activity into your day, yet still feel pain in your hips and butt, talk to your doctor.
In the meantime, padded toilet seats and a warm water bidet can add some relief to a sore bum.