I want to take a moment of your time to talk about a condition that is rampant in our society of sitting. It’s a condition that causes a multitude of issues relating to proper biomechanics of the human body. Because of the dawn of the tech industry and the onset of the global pandemic, I have seen many people take to sitting on their butts for most of the day. This yields some abnormal patterns in the strength of the body that I like to call muscular imbalances. Muscular imbalances are simply having tight muscles on one side of the body and weak muscles on the opposite side of that tightness. When it comes to prolonged sitting, I tend to see the tightness arise in the psoas or hip flexor muscles and the correlated weakness in the glutes or the butt muscles. The glutes, along with the abdominals, are the major stabilizers of the lower back and pelvis and therefore, if you suffer from a weakness in your glutes (along with hip flexor tightness) you are likely to suffer from some type of lower back pain and/or dysfunction.
Whenever anyone with lower back discomfort/pain comes into my office there are 3 things I look at:
1) Are your hip flexors tight?
2) Are your glutes weak?
3) Do you have a strong core?
When I look for glute weakness, I have the patient lie face down and actively lift one leg to the ceiling. Your glutes should be the first muscle to fire, followed by the opposite side erector muscle, then the same side erector muscle, and the hamstrings last. Often times, the pattern is reversed. Sadly, many people cannot even get their glutes to fire. I like to call this “dead butt syndrome.” Friends, when your glutes don’t fire you are missing one entire half of the muscular strength to support your spine and pelvis. When you are missing this piece of the puzzle, you are destined for lower back pain at some point in your life.
So how do I fix my dead butt?
Well I wouldn’t recommend just hitting the gym unsupervised and busting out 100 squats because if your butt isn’t firing then you probably have other imbalances that will lead to improper biomechanics. Remember the hip flexors and the abdominals? But what I do recommend is working with someone who can recognize these imbalances on you and que you into a more optimal positions for strengthening your glutes. But a key component to this is drilling some stability exercises BEFORE you and your trainer attempt 100 supervised squats. For example, glute bridging, abduction exercises with a band, and of course core.
Try this! And if it doesn’t help your dead butt or if you have pain, see a licensed professional.
I’m here to help!
Dr. Michelle Clark, D.C.