Dead Butt Syndrome
If you sit at a desk all day, you may experience vague discomfort and pain where you sit. Doctors may call this lower cross syndrome, gluteal amnesia or gluteus medius tendinosis, but another term is more memorable: “dead butt” syndrome. In this syndrome, muscle tightness and weakness combine to create an imbalance. Constant sitting weakens the gluteus medius, one of the three primary muscles in the buttock. It also tightens the hip flexors.
The job of the gluteus medius is to stabilize your hips and pelvis. When it’s weak and can’t function properly, you may experience varying levels of hip and lower back pain when you sit and sometimes when you move. Muscle weakness can also compress, pull or pinch the nerves, leading to the numbness related to dead butt syndrome.
What causes ‘dead butt’ syndrome?
Not surprisingly, sitting for long periods in front of a desk or in a car is the most common cause of dead butt syndrome. The weakness is gradual, happening over time, and most patients have no idea what they did to cause the pain. But the problem also strikes those who are active. Athletes, especially avid runners who forgo cross-training and strength training, can also develop this syndrome
Simple exercises that help
1. Side-lying leg lifts
Repeat 15 to 20 times, in sets of three, every day:
- Lie down on your right side.
- Lift your left leg with your big toe pointing toward the floor, and lift.
- Repeat on your left side, lifting your right leg.
Once you are comfortable doing this exercise regularly, you can work with a band or an ankle weight for extra resistance.
Repeat 30 to 40 times, in sets of three, every day:
- Lie down on your right side with both knees bent.
- Keeping your feet touching, lift your bent left leg toward the ceiling.
- Repeat on your left side, lifting your bent right leg toward the ceiling.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Hold for 30 seconds for each side, repeat twice a day.
- Kneel down on your affected leg and stride the other one out in front. There should be a large space between both legs.
- Add a pelvic tuck ie. tuck your tail under
- Push your hips forward and raise one arm up above your head reaching up towards the ceiling while you push your hips forward. Make sure you keep your chest up. You should feel this stretch through the front of the hip.
Simple changes that head off pain
Making adjustments in how you work at your desk can also relieve dead butt syndrome — or prevent the problem before it develops. For example, try sitting for 40 minutes and then standing for 20 minutes. Use the standing time to talk on the phone or even better use a sit to stand desk. Variety is the take-home message.