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How to fix dormant bottom syndrome

Published: 16 July 2019 - Injury Treatment and Prevention

Image of a woman stretching

When we talk about your butt, we are talking about your gluteal muscles. Your buttocks are more than just gluteus maximus. They include two more muscles - the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These muscles can become weak and hard to activate properly, thus becoming dormant.

What happens if you have weak glute muscles?

These glute muscles are essential in controlling your hip and lower leg positions. If they become weak, the loads they manage are put on other areas of your body. This is when your lower back, hips, knees, even your feet can take more load than they are used to, leading to soreness, injuries, and depending on the level of weakenss, considerable pain and even loss of normal movement.

What causes dormant bottom syndrome?

Our workplaces are getting more and more reliant on computers. Having a 9-5 job where you’re sitting the whole time causes tightness in the front of your hips and stretches out the gluteal muscles. Over time your body will become accustomed to the position and the glutes will no longer fire off like they are supposed to. Having a long daily commute to work will also contribute to this.

It’s not just office workers though. Even athletes and people who exercise regularly can have dormant butt syndrome. Running typically works the hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves more than anything else. Most runners don’t do enough strength training let alone work on strenghtening the glutes. Gym-goers are great at exercising the back, legs and upper body, but not great at targeting the glutes specifically.

How do you fix a dormant bottom?

It comes down to correcting the muscle imbalance, reducing tightness in the hip flexors and above all, strengthening the glute muscles so they are able to once-again support other muscle groups in the body.

Loosen up those hip flexors

A foam roller is great for loosening up your quadriceps and hip flexors. Lay on a foam roller with the front of your thighs. Try to focus around the hip joint but also around the front, inside and outside of the thigh. Look for tender spots that need a bit of extra attention.

A great stretch for the hip flexors and quads is a kneeling hip flexor stretch. Lunge forward with your other knee on a mat or folded towel. Bring the hips forward till you feel a stretch in the front of the hip. Hold the back foot up so that the knee is bent. You will feel a stretch in the hip flexors and quads.

Strengthen those glutes

Side lying abductions are a great activation exercise. Lie on one side with your bottom leg bent forwards and the top leg in line with your trunk. Keep the leg straight as you slowly raise it up towards the ceiling and slowly back down. You don’t need to go up too high or down too low. You should feel the burn right in the glutes. Aim to do three sets of 15 for each side each day.

Another great exercise is a side lying glute plank. Lie on your side with your forearm directly under your shoulder, the bottom leg bent at the knee 90 degrees and the top leg straight - contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line (make sure your hips are forward enough). Hold for 30-60 seconds and do this on each side. Do this every two days.

A classic compound exercise to get the glutes firing off in a functional way is the good old deadlift. Everyone thinks of this as a back exercise, but it’s actually a full-body exercise! It helps to work the entire posterior chain which includes your glutes. Think about activating your glutes and bring the hips forward on the way up with your deadlifts.

If you sit from 9-5 try to get an adjustable standing desk or take frequent breaks where you stand up and do some hip stretches. A short break every hour is recommended but I know this is easier said than done. The next time you think about skipping a couple glute exercises that will only take a few minutes, think about how long you spend sitting on that butt that is becoming more dormant!

Need more advice, contact your local Motion Health practice to book your Free Initial Assessment.