the the dangers of prolonged sitting have been well established. It can increase your chances of developing everything from heart disease to cancer and diabetes, and can even cost you years of life. But there’s one side effect you may not have realized has to do with parking your butt in an office chair all day.
Americans sit so long that their butts literally fall asleep. “Dead buttocks syndrome,” or buttock amnesia, is a condition that occurs when your gluteus medius becomes inflamed and forgets to function normally.
“Sitting too long can restrict blood flow, causing gluteal amnesia, which can lead to hip pain, back pain, and ankle problems. The glutes won’t fire properly even when performing exercises targeting the glutes,” said Donovan Greencelebrity fitness trainer and author of No Excuses Fitness: the 30-day plan to tone your body and boost your health.
Kelly Starrett, physiotherapist and founder of children standing, added that your glutes aren’t designed to hold weight for long periods of time. Spending so much time on your back diminishes your body’s ability to use your incredibly powerful glute muscles when needed.
“If you imagine making a panini sandwich where you take high pressure and high heat and make a grilled cheese, sitting on your buttocks all day, that’s kind of it,” Starrett said.
“The supported hip flex position and tissue compression prepare us for the perfect closing storm[ting] gluteal function down, or in the vernacular of the people, “dead buttocks,” he added.
People with dead butt syndrome may experience the familiar sensation of a body part “falling asleep.”
“The technical term for this is ‘paresthesia,’ an abnormal sensation felt in your body due to compression or irritation of nerves,” said Mark Benden, director of the Ergonomics Center at Texas A&M University and Porter. -word of Varidesk. He added that the symptoms of paresthesia can range from mild to severe and can be transient or long-lasting.
How to know if you are developing the condition
The main source of the condition is inactivity, so if you’re slumped in your office chair for hours every day, chances are you’re increasing your risk.
“Sitting for long periods of time has been shown in multiple studies to have a major impact on how well we can contract and effectively use our glutes,” Green said.
He noted that when your glutes close due to lack of activity and stimulation, it puts strain on other muscles and joints and produces an effect where the weaker muscles have to do the work of the gluteus maximus. The Strongest. Left untreated, this can lead to something called “synergic dominance”, where the small auxiliary muscles in the hip and leg now take control of the movement and control the forces loaded onto the hips, spine and lower back. .
“Sitting for long periods of time has been shown in several studies to have a major impact on how well we can contract and effectively use our glutes.”
– Donovan Green, celebrity fitness trainer and author
Muscle tightness in the hips is also a major culprit of dead butt syndrome. If you don’t have the proper flexibility, you’re literally squeezing the juice or the ‘power’ out of the gluteus maximus because the movement is so difficult that the [gluteus maximus] cannot access enough strength to fully engage,” Green said. “Remember that the gluteus maximus is the big guy and needs a lot of range of motion to activate and do its job as it was intended.”
Choosing the wrong exercises or not performing them correctly can also contribute to the condition.
“When trying to activate the glutes…we often see trainers and fitness enthusiasts repeating exercises that don’t make the gluteus maximus more responsive than it used to,” Green said.
He added that when an exercise fails to activate the targeted muscle, the smaller muscles mentioned earlier end up taking control of the movement. This makes those smaller muscles stronger, further depriving the gluteus maximus of the stimulus it now craves.
“For example, let’s say you’ve been sitting in your office for eight hours and now you want to hit the gym to do some serious deadlifts and squats,” Green said. “You load up the bar and hit set after set, trying to squeeze gluteus maximus for all it’s worth, but, instead of having sore glutes the next day, you have tight lower back, hamstrings. tight legs and sore quadriceps.”
Green found that injuries and arthritic conditions can also shut down muscle activation to “protect” a joint from further damage by immobilizing the damaged joint or bone.
How to ward off “dead buttocks”
According to Jeff Bell, co-founder and master trainer of Belleon Body NYC“the gluteus maximus was built for power and speed and should be fed a regular diet of climbing, squatting, running, lunging and walking if he is to be kept in peak condition, or at least appear in good shape.
The best way to prevent dead butt syndrome is to stay active and healthy. If you sit for long periods of time, Bell recommends taking frequent breaks from standing, stretching, and walking to keep posterior muscles active throughout the day.
“A good rule to remember is that for every hour of sitting, you need to take 10 minutes of standing and moving to reactivate and keep those glute muscles from falling asleep.”
– Jeff Bell, co-founder and master trainer of Belleon Body NYC
“A good rule to remember is that for every hour of sitting, you need to take 10 minutes of standing and moving to reactivate and keep those glute muscles from falling asleep,” he says.
Stretching before and after exercise is also key to avoiding gluteal amnesia, especially for distance runners and cyclists who need to pay special attention to stretching the hip flexors, says Lily Friedman, chiropractor with Comprehensive Wellness Institute.
“This will allow the gluteus medius, one of the three gluteal muscles, to strengthen properly and thus cancel out the reciprocal inhibition,” she said.
Specific exercises that get your glutes back in shape
According to Green, Performing regular exercises that target the three muscles related to the glute can reverse dead butt syndrome. Here are his five movements to activate the glutes:
- Jump squat in wide position: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Squat down at a 90 degree angle. Use your glutes and quads to jump as high as you can, landing gently in your squat position.
- Side steps with bands: Take an exercise band and strap it across the top of your ankles. Bend your knees and start walking sideways to the left for 10 steps and repeat in the other direction. This will strengthen your glutes medius and minimus while also activating most of your glutes, according to Green.
- Side slit: This is a great lower body exercise that strengthens the quads, glutes, and hamstrings while targeting both the inner and outer thighs. Stand with your feet together, then move as far to the left as possible while bending your left knee 90 degrees. Keep the right leg straight. Repeat on the other side.
- Kettlebell squat: Grab a kettlebell by the handles and bring it in front of your chest and keep your elbows tight against your body. Place your feet in a squat position so that the heels are hip-width or slightly wider. To squat, sit with your hips over your heels, bringing your body down to 90 degrees or more. As you descend, be sure to support the weight so that it stays above your chest line to protect your lower back from strain.
- Lateral climb: Find a stable surface strong enough to support your weight and at least as high as your knees. Stand with your body turned sideways toward the object. Place your right foot on the surface and use your glutes, quads, and core to straighten up. Repeat 10 times before moving to the other side.
For a bonus maneuver, Green said it might help to contract your glute muscles occasionally throughout the day. “It’s going to stimulate those glutes and get them moving again,” he added.
There are also products on the market that can help keep your butt from falling asleep and can work wonders if you sit too long. There are seat cushionsfor example, specially designed to relax under pressure while evenly supporting your weight.
The bottom line when it comes to battling dead butt syndrome, according to Starrett, is that if you start to feel tingling, you need to get up and move.
“A brisk climb of the stairs or a brisk walk [in general] will get your glutes back into working mode,” she said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misinterpreted Kelly Starrett.