Fighting Dead Butt Syndrome
Chi Whitley is a Content Marketer who writes both short and long-form blog posts for clients. Chi also freelances and writes well-researched articles for a plethora of different businesses. Chi depends on his English degree with a specialization in creative writing from Rhodes College (2016 graduate) and from his time as a middle school English and Writing teacher.
When you imagine a career in government, you’re probably thinking of staffers running around delivering papers and suit-toating people going from meeting to meeting. However, the reality can be quite the opposite — especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re working from home due to government mandates or sitting in long meetings all day reviewing legislation, there are health side effects from sitting most of the day and not standing.
Despite the humorous name, dead butt syndrome (DBS) is an issue that affects many people today. The truth is, if you’re sitting down anywhere for a majority of your day you could be at risk.
What Exactly is Dead Butt Syndrome?
DBS, also known as gluteal amnesia, is when your glute muscles grow tight and weak from prolonged periods of sitting. As a result, the muscles stop working as they should and symptoms can occur.
Symptoms of Dead Butt Syndrome:
- Numbness or soreness in the glutes
- Pain in one or both hips, lower back, legs, or knees
- Shooting pain that travels down the leg
- Loss of glute strength
How Do You Diagnose Dead Butt Syndrome?
DBS is often diagnosed using the Trendelenburg test, which is a physical exam where you lift one leg while standing up. If your pelvis stays even, your glute muscles likely haven’t been weakened and you don’t have DBS.
If your pelvis dips on the side where your leg is lifted, your glutes are probably weak on the opposite side. This is an indication of gluteal amnesia. If you have any concerns about the strength of your glute muscles or anything else regarding your muscles or posture, visit a medical professional to diagnose and treat your issue.
What Causes Dead Butt Syndrome?
The root cause of DBS is a lack of activity. The human body is designed to keep moving, circulating blood throughout the body, and keeping muscles engaged. Living a sedentary lifestyle, one with too little movement, can limit blood circulation to your glutes and eventually weaken them.
This inactivity could come from working a desk job all day, or working from home and sitting on a computer.
Even if you’re actively exercising, you could still be at risk for dead butt syndrome. Your hip flexors are muscles that are responsible for moving your legs when you walk and run. If those muscles aren’t stretched before and after a workout (even if it is just a brisk walk), you may experience muscle stiffness and dead butt syndrome from the muscle tightness.
If you go for frequent runs and also work a desk job, you may be at a much higher risk for dead butt syndrome. Distance or strenuous running can also increase your risk for muscle tightness and DBS.
Despite the humorous name, dead butt syndrome (DBS) is an issue that affects many people today.
How to Fight Dead Butt Syndrome
Get Up and Move
One of the easiest ways to combat DBS is to get up and walk around periodically during long periods of sitting. If you’re at work, get up from your desk and walk around your office every hour or so. Set an alarm or timer on your phone to remind yourself. The blood flow and stimulation from walking around will help relieve your tight muscles.
Better Sitting Posture
Do you find yourself hunched over your computer while you’re working? That posture is only making your DBS worse. The best sitting posture for working at a desk is with both feet on the floor, relaxed shoulders, and elbows at your sides. Your chair should also be cushioned for extra back and hip support.
Even if you already have a chair that promotes a healthy sitting posture, your glutes will still acclimate to the curve and design of your chair. Your glutes and the muscles in your lower back need to stay engaged, so swapping your chair every so often for something else will keep your glutes working as they should.
A kneeling chair or a medicine ball are both good options to keep in rotation for when you’ve become too used to your chair.
Stretches & Exercises
Leg stretches and exercises done periodically at your desk can help with gluteal amnesia. If you’re looking for something extra to help, consider a sitting/standing desk as well. With a doctor’s order, some employers may even foot the cost for a sitting/standing desk — since it’s usually cheaper than any related medical bills.
Here are some stretches you can do to help prevent DBS:
- Hamstring stretches:
- Bend your right leg slightly, keeping the left straight.
- Bend at the waist until you feel a stretch on your left hamstring.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Repeat for the opposite leg.
- Squats *:
- Stand up, keeping feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your knees until your thighs are nearly parallel to the ground (90 degree knee bend)
- Return to the starting position.
- Leg Lifts:
- Lie on your back on a firm, supportive surface.
- Lift your legs as high as you can while keeping them straight and your muscles flexing.
- Slowly lower your legs until the heels of your feet are hovering off of the floor.
*Keep your core muscles tight while squatting.
How to Treat Dead Butt Syndrome
If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort from gluteal amnesia, there are several things you can do to treat the issues. Following the RICE method like in the case of a sports injury can lead to relief:
- Rest: Stay off your feet, avoid any physical activity you can.
- Ice: Apply an ice pack or other cold compress to treat inflammation and swelling.
- Compression: Wrapping a sore muscle can help, consult a doctor before wrapping.
- Elevation: Keep your leg(s) elevated and supported.