Dead butt syndrome is 'very common'

Even runners and cyclists can suffer from weak glute muscles, which can lead to lower back pain.

Even runners and cyclists can suffer from weak glute muscles, which can lead to lower back pain.

Dead butt syndrome is a real thing and most of us have it, but don't realise it.

It is also known as gluteus amnesia and occurs when the buttock muscles are neglected and become extremely weak.

Dr Cassandra Fairest says the condition is "very, very common". As a practising chiropractor she "rarely" sees a patient that doesn't have weak glutes.

Fairest, spokesperson for the New Zealand Chiropractors Association, says most people are surprised to learn that athletic people are almost as likely to suffer from a dead butt as those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. 

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Among those likely to develop weak glute muscles are people who spend a lot of time sitting on their bum in desk-bound jobs as well as those who are overweight and pregnant women.

But, "even people who do a lot of running or cycling" can suffer from gluteus amnesia. That's because these exercises don't "switch on the glutes" while over using the more dominate hip flexor and quad muscles at the front of the pelvis.

"When you sit all day, or if you don't do exercises that activate them, then over time your glutes become really lazy because you're not firing them up enough."

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This can lead to a number of health problems including: lower back pain, knee pain, hip pain, hamstring strain, poor posture, problems with balance and being prone to injury. 

"Often people can have weak glutes and don't know it."

Fairest often sees patients who believe they have a knee or lower back injury when it is their weak glute muscles triggering the pain.

It's fairly easy to spot dead buttock muscles, she says. "Flat, saggy" behinds are likely suffering from a case of gluteus amnesia. While "perky butts are healthy", although occasionally these people are just "genetically blessed".

If people suspect they are suffering from weak glutes she recommends the get assessed by a professional.


It's a case of "use it or lose it" Fairest says. To avoid a dead butt she recommends these five exercises:

Do pilates, it is a great glute activation exercise.

Do barre classes, also great for glute activation.

Use a standing desk at work if that's an option.

Bridges, squats and lunges are also helpful glute exercises, but it's important to stretch the opposing muscles with these.

Do 10 reps of squeezing your glutes and holding for a count of five while standing. Repeat this exercise several times daily. It's an easy and simple way to engage the buttocks.

 - Stuff


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