Hallow's Eve is tomorrow so lets talk about one of the freakiest things to have ever happened to mankind:
Ok, so it's technically not "dead", and there are plenty of other freaky things to happen to humans, but! Dead Butt Syndrome is a real thing! (Also known as gluteal amnesia)
With the majority of us sitting on our keisters a lot these days, our booties don't stand a chance. Whether it be sitting at your desk, transiting, or sedentary life choices. It is a prime example of "you don't use it, you lose it".
The good news??
We can resurrect our zombie booties and bring them back from the dead!
Butt first! Let's find out WHY this happens to us and what turns our brioche buns into flapjacks:
Our joints are controlled by opposing muscle groups. One to flex (think curling your arm in a bicep curl) and the other to extend (straightening said arm after showing off the guns). They work together in an agonist, working, and antagonist, not working, relationship. When we are in a seated position for extended periods of time our gluteal muscle (Gluteus Medius) "shuts off" and our hip flexors (front of your hips opposite of your glutes) are flexed and tight.
Like most things in nature, our body will take the path of least resistance to perform a move or function. In the case of Dead Butt the hip flexors are already activated by being short and tight. Basically, the glutes peace out and deactivate while the hip flexors do all the hard work. It's referred to as reciprocal inhibition.
Is my butt dead?!
Now that we know what it is, how do we know if our tush has tapped out?
There are a few tests you can easily do at home to give you a good indication that your glutes have stopped firing.
How to test at home
Single leg standing test: standing with feet about shoulder width apart. With or without holding onto something for support bend one knee and lift that leg up slightly. Try to hold for 30 seconds. If the hip of the raised leg falls or you find yourself "dumping" into your supporting leg, you may have weakened hip abductors (glute medius and minimus). You can place your hands on your hips during the test to feel if one of your hips shifts. This test is also known as the Trendelenburg Test.
Single leg bridge: setting up for a proper glute bridge, learn the proper technique here, this time with one leg off the floor. If you notice a drop or rotation of the hip on the supporting leg, that might be your indication that some strengthening of the glutes is necessary.
Don't dread the derriere!
Luckily mostly anyone can do these exercises and their modifications with little to no equipment and in small spaces! Even during busy work (and/or parenting) days, aim to set an alarm for every 20-30 mins to get up and do one (or all) of these exercises.
For extra bonus points: improving gluteal performance and conditioning can help reduce/prevent back pain and improve your posture!
Exercises (start off between 8-10 reps)
The tried and true bodyweight exercise. Laying on your back on a flat surface. Feet flat on the surface and knees pointing up. Ensure that your hips, knees, and feet are all in line (think like train tracks).
Two legged Bridge: Start by tilting your pelvis up towards your face. Imagine you have a fish bowl on your lower belly and you want to tilt it to splash your face. Next squeeze your buns to the best of your ability, exhale, and then begin to lift your hips up. Keeping that slight pelvic tilt and the squeeze in the buns, lift your hips up pressing down through your heels. Lift only until hips are in line and making a straight line from your knees down through your shoulders. Any higher and you're placing unnecessary stress on your lower back. Inhaling slowly lower your hips back down allowing your back to come in contact with the floor one vertebrae at a time.
Resistance band: Following all the cues from the two legged bridge, this time with a resistance band wrapped around your thighs above your knees. With your hips extended up add a slight leg abduction by gently pushing your knees out to the sides against the band. Returning the knees to center and slowly lower the hips down on the inhale.
Single Legged Bridge: All the same rules as the two legged bridge but this time with one leg extended up towards the sky. Make sure to do both sides!
Laying on your side, ensure that your hips are stacked on top of one another and your feet at glued together.
Back up against the wall: pressing your bum and back up flat against a wall. Your knees are bent. While keeping the feet together lift the top knee by externally rotating the top hip. Ensure that your back stays stuck to the wall the entire time.
Unassisted: all the same times apply as above but this time away from the wall. This means taking extra thought into keeping your hips stacked and body still during the exercise (don't forget to engage those abs!)
Resistance Band: Again, all the same rules apply but this time we've added a resistance band wrapped around both our legs just above the knee.
Side leg raise
Laying: Laying on your side with the hips stacked, straightening the top leg. Slightly internally rotate your leg down so that your toes are pointing to the ground. Gently lift the leg up a few inches and with control return down.
Standing: Standing with weight in one leg (gently bend the knee to protect the joint!) Lift the other leg up to the side keeping the toes and knees facing forward. This exercise is not about how high you can get you leg and more about conscious control.
Lateral Monster walks: standing with feet a little bit wider than hip distance about. Toes and knees pointed forward. Engage the abs to support a long neutral spine. Bending the knees (over the toes) and send the booty back. Take a generous step to the side while maintaining the form. Keep down low the entire time and knees and toes printing forward.
Banded monster walks: same rules as above but with time with a resistance band around both legs just above the knee.
Toe taps: maintaining the starting form. Keeping low and tapping one foot out to the side while still maintaining the knee and toes pointing forward. Repeat on other side.
Don't let your rump kick the bucket. Kick it into proper working order by bringing it back from the dead!
Wishing everyone a safe and fun Halloween!