By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
July 5, 2017
- Yes, dead butt syndrome is a real disorder
- Discover how to reanimate your lifeless buns
- Build a livelier (and stronger!) tush
Dead butt syndrome. It sounds like the punch line of a bad joke. In fact, you’re probably already rolling your eyes and thinking “Come on Doc, give me a break! There’s no such thing.”
Actually, there is such a thing.
Some experts are calling it gluteal amnesia, which pretty much explains the problem in a nutshell. It’s simply something that happens when your butt muscles have been inactive for so long that they become weak and “forget” how to work.
Now, here’s the thing. When your gluteal muscles become weak and fail to activate, it can lead to serious injuries and chronic pain.
People with low muscle strength in the butt are more likely to experience knee pain, lower back problems and hip instability. Walking up and down stairs can become painful or difficult.
Weak butt muscles can make it hard to maintain balance while lifting and carrying. They can also affect your gait by causing instability while walking, jogging or running.
These shortcomings can easily result in falls, sprains and strains. It could even lead to an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury. This is the rubber band-like ligament behind the kneecap and connects your shinbone and thighbone.
Reanimate your Lifeless Buns
One way we doctors test for dead butt syndrome is with the Trendelenburg test. It’s pretty simple to do. Just stand straight, bend one leg at the knee and raise it in front of you.
If your hip drops down or backwards when you raise your knee, you likely have weak gluteal muscles on that side. They simply can’t hold the pelvis up when the leg is in the air.
In this case, it’s time to revive your glutes. And believe me, there are plenty of ways to get them firing properly again. All it takes is a little exercise.
Here are some of the best ways to reanimate your lifeless butt. I’ve listed them in order from easiest to hardest.
Gluteal squeezes are one of the easiest things you can do to get your butt muscles firing on all cylinders again.
Start off in a standing position with your feet flared outward and slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. Next, squeeze your butt muscles as hard as you can and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three or four times, and perform this little exercise often throughout the day.
Doing step ups two or three times a week can also help revive your derriere. They not only activate your gluteus muscles, they also engage other hip extensor muscles.
But you’ll need something to step onto. You can use the bottom step of a staircase, a small step stool or invest in a step platform. Simply step up with your right foot, followed by the left. Then, step back down with the right foot, once again followed by the left.
Repeat 10-15 times starting with your right foot. Then do 10-15 more leading with your left. Do three sets.
Build a Livelier (and Stronger!) Tush
Squats can be a little difficult if you have poor balance. However, there are ways to modify them. For a standard squat, place your feet hip-width apart with your hands behind your head. Squat at the knees, using your upper thighs and abdomen for strength…and remember to keep your back straight. Rise back up into standing position.
If squats are a problem for you, you can try performing them with your back against the wall or with your hands placed on the back of a stable chair, table or counter. Only squat as far as is comfortable. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 squats per set and a two to three minute interval between the sets.
Bird dog exercises aren’t the easiest exercise in the world. But they’re also not the hardest. Get down on your hands and knees, and tighten your abdomen. Then extend one arm straight in front of you while extending the opposite leg to the rear. Keep your spine straight. Hold for a count of ten, then release your abdomen and return to starting position. Alternate sides for a total of 10 (five on each side). Rest, then do two more sets.
If you find it difficult to maintain balance while doing the bird dog, place a sturdy chair in front of you. You can use it rest your hand on while extending the opposite leg.
Side planks with leg lifts are another top recommendation when it comes to strengthening your booty. They can be more difficult than regular plank exercises. But if you’re relatively fit, they’re very “do-able”.
Lie on your side so that your weight is resting on your bottom elbow and the side of your foot. Then, raise your hips so that you form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. While in this position, lift your top leg toward the ceiling without bending the knee. Hold for a count of five. Perform five of these on each side, rest, then do two more sets.
I recommend starting with the easiest (with the approval of your doctor) and proceeding to the harder exercises as your glutes gain strength. Then, swap them up from week to week for a livelier tush and greater balance.
Rowe J, et al. Hip Strength and Knee Pain in Females. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2007 Aug; 2(3): 164–169.
Reiman MP, et al. A literature review of studies evaluating gluteus maximus and gluteus medius activation during rehabilitation exercises.
Jeong U-C, et al. The effects of gluteus muscle strengthening exercise and lumbar stabilization exercise on lumbar muscle strength and balance in chronic low back pain patients. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Dec; 27(12): 3813–3816.
Stastny P, et al. Strengthening the Gluteus Medius Using Various Bodyweight and Resistance Exercises. Strength Cond J. 2016 Jun; 38(3): 91–101.