Dead butt syndrome sounds more dramatic than it actually is. The condition is caused by inflammation in the gluteus medius muscles, which play a crucial role in hip and pelvis stability. If you've been diagnosed with dead butt syndrome, rest assured that you can revitalize your gluteal muscles with consistent exercise. Work with a physical therapist if possible to strengthen your muscles safely and effectively.
Signs and Symptoms
Dead butt syndrome is characterized by several common symptoms. Runners who have the condition often experience severe hip pain during and after running for short or long distances. Because the gluteus medius muscle controls the pelvis as well as the hips, people who have dead butt syndrome also may walk with a wobbling or lurching gait. When standing still, patients tend to shift the majority of their weight over one hip. If the problem is left untreated, it may affect other areas, such as the knees, Achilles tendon, calves and feet.
Always consult with a doctor or physical therapist before you start doing stretches and exercises to improve dead butt syndrome. Once you have the green light, take it easy with gentle stretches such as side lying hip abductions, which are recommended for gluteus medius tears in "Pathology and Intervention in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation." To perform side lying abductions, lie on your right side, supporting your head and neck with your arm. Stretch out your legs completely and make sure that your spine is aligned properly. Inhale and, as you exhale, raise your left leg slightly, keeping your knees facing forward and your leg straight. Raise the leg about 1 foot or until you feel your hips begin to tilt, then slowly lower it back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other side.
Once your symptoms have abated a bit and you have the OK from your doctor, go on to more advanced exercises that strengthen the gluteus medius muscles. Mini squats are a good strengthening exercise for the glutes as well as the lower abdominal muscles. Stand against a wall with your feet about 2 feet in front of you. Inhale, and as you exhale, slowly lower into a squatting position, with your thighs parallel to the floor. Make sure that your knees do not bend beyond your feet to avoid damage to the knees. Hold the squat for two counts, then return to standing. Repeat 10 times. "Pathology and Intervention in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation" also recommends adding stretches for the hip flexors, quadriceps, lateral hips and hamstrings every day.
Diversifying Your Workout
One of the most important factors in dead butt syndrome rehabilitation is diversifying your workout. As noted by Jen A. Miller of "The New York Times," many serious runners experience dead butt syndrome because they don't do other forms of exercise. Triathletes are much less likely to experience gluteus medius problems than athletes who do only one form of exercise, such as running or biking. Diversify your workout by adding other forms of exercise to your routine, such as elliptical training, aerobic workouts or swimming.
- The New York Times: When the Diagnosis Is "Dead Butt Syndrome"
- Pathology and Intervention in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation; David J. Magee, et al.
- Beginner Triathlete: Member Case Study: Gluteus Medius and ITB Syndrome
- Dartmouth Medical School: The Gluteal Region
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lying Hip Abductions