How to kick dormant butt syndrome
The name may sound silly, but back pain will probably keep you from laughing. That’s right — having inactive gluteal muscles, also known as dormant butt syndrome (DBS), can increase your risk for developing lower back pain as well as other health conditions throughout your body.
“Challenges with gluteal muscles can affect your feet, knees, low back and even create compensation into your mid-back and neck,” said Jeffrey Langmaid, D.C., a Consult Physician at Laser Spine Institute. “Since gluteal muscles are the foundation of our hips and pelvis, they can truly affect the entire musculoskeletal chain within our bodies.”
Could I develop dormant butt syndrome?
Keep in mind, no matter how comfortable your workstation is — while a good chair does support spine health — the act of extensive sitting makes you more prone to DBS signs and symptoms.
When seated, you are loading the lumbar spine without engaging the trunk and leg muscles; when you are standing or active, those muscles are engaged, which is good for strength and conditioning. That’s why those muscles being in a dormant state all day long can decrease their activation and strength, which can result in dysfunction.
To determine if your muscles may need strengthening, Dr. Langmaid suggests:
- Monitoring how much you sit during your workday
- Visiting a chiropractor, physical therapist or certified fitness professional for evaluation
- Listening to your body during daily activities (fatigue may indicate deconditioning)
“Whether it’s a deconditioned gluteal muscle or a consistent spasm due to nerve compression, changes in how those muscles function can potentially affect or cause back pain,” said Dr. Langmaid. “Tight hamstrings and hip flexors can also contribute to gluteal fatigue.”
How can I avoid or reverse dormant butt syndrome?
“The sweet spot is the right combination of strength training and flexibility — the foundation of all efficient muscle use,” said Dr. Langmaid. “But the best thing you can do is start where you’re at and improve each day.”
The simple act of standing activates your gluteal muscles, so if you’re in a fixed desk position most of the day, make sure you get up every 20 to 30 minutes to stretch and decompress your lower back. And just think, if you do that once an hour, that’s at least eight times more per day than you were doing in the past. Strengthening exercises like squats and lunges can also be performed throughout the day or during commercial breaks as you watch television.
“A short walk during your lunch break or a before- and after-workday stretching routine can help offset that time spent sitting at work,” said Dr. Langmaid.
If you’ve been missing work because of chronic neck or back pain, dormant butt syndrome may not be the only culprit. Reach out to the Care Team at Laser Spine Institute to learn about spine conditions that can affect your neck or back.