Dead Butt Syndrome: How to Wake Up Your Butt and Get it Moving Again

by Suzanne Hiscock

Yup, dead butt syndrome is a thing.  Also known as gluteal amnesia, it happens when your gluteus medius -- one of your three butt muscles -- stops working properly.  It “forgets” what it’s supposed to do
 
You can get dead butt syndrome from sitting down too much. When you sit, your hip flexors are contracted.  When your hip flexors are contracted, your glutes are “told” to relax.
 
But even active people can get dead butt syndrome.  Runners, in particular, are susceptible.
 
The problem is twofold:  your hip flexors are too tight and you don’t engage your glutes enough.  You get a weak, dead butt and the rest of your muscles are called in to compensate. That touches off a whole slew of problems.
 
In extreme cases, even your walking gait will be affected.  

One Sign of Dead Butt Syndrome

 Losing your balance when standing on one leg can be one early sign that you have a "dead" butt.
 
If the glutes in your supporting leg -- the leg you’re standing on -- are weak or “dead”, it can’t hold your pelvis level and in place.  You end up tipping over to one side.
 
Can you stand on one leg for longer than 30 seconds without tipping over?  If not, you might need to work on strengthening your glutes and stretching your hip flexors.
 
Either way, if you sit for long periods during the day or don’t cross train, you still need to work your butt in order to prevent a dead butt.
 
Here’s how to get your rear in gear:
 

Find Ways to Sit Less and Move More

 
If you sit a lot, you need to get up off the chair and walk around / stretch, at least every hour.  More often if you can.

Check out these tips for sitting less and moving more:  8 Tips for Getting Up Off Your Butt
 
I bought myself a Garmin Vivosmart HR+ because it has a Move bar that reminds me to move if I’ve been sitting for too long.

Stretch Your Hip Flexors

 Your hip flexors  -- which are the iliacus and psoas major (aka, the iliopsoas ) -- start at your lower spine and connect to your femur.  
 
Anterior Hip Muscles 2
 
 
I found a great video animation that explains exactly where they are and what they do.  It also shows the cascading effect when your hip flexors don’t function properly.  Other muscles have to join in and do more work.

Hip Flexor Animation

Three different ways to stretch your hip flexors are:

  • Standing 3 Plane Active Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Kneeling  Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Active Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch

You can download instructions for these stretches -- and see a video for each one -- here:  Stretches for the Hip Flexors

Strengthen Your Glutes

Consider adding strengthening exercises that focus solely on the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (the two smaller glutes).
 
Basic exercises you can do every day  to target these two muscles include:
 

  • Clamshells
  • Side-lying Leg Lifts
  • Bridges (moving up to one-legged bridges when ready)
  • Donkey Kicks (aka hip extensions)

 
Click here to see video instructions for each of these four exercises.  
 
Shape.com has a more intense dead butt workout that you can do three to five times a week (or every day if you run regularly).
 

 

More Butt Blasting Workouts


Butt Blaster Workout

Download and print out this 8-exercise booty blast workout from Paige Waehner at getfitwithpaige.com
 
Exercises Scientifically Proven to Work Your Butt

Strengthen  your glutes  with these 5 exercises, scientifcally proven to be the most effective to work the booty.  It’s a great overall lower body workout, too.
 
Barre-Inspired Booty Workout Video
 
These barre-inspired leg exercises from ACE fitness guru Linda Larue will help you sculpt a better butt. With assisted squats, hip extensions and figure 8's, Linda shows you easy yet effective exercises you can do in the comfort of your home.

Bottom line -- pun intended -- variety is key to waking up a dead butt.  If you already exercise, cross training is key to preventing dead butt syndrome.  If you’re not into formal exercise workouts, get walking and start doing basic glute strengthening. And don't forget to stretch those hip flexors!

Read More
Are You Sitting Too Much?  Tips for Getting Up Off Your Butt
10 Ways to Exercise While Watching TV
12 Week Walking Program

 

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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN1 Nutrition Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 16 years, she has been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website, FitWatch.com. Whether it's with one-on-one nutrition coaching, nutrition programs or courses, and tools or calculators, she can help you to eat better, move more and believe in yourself.