What is ‘Dead Butt Syndrome’ and how do you prevent it?

Cropped shot of a young businessman experiencing back pain while working at his desk
Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to all sorts of pain and aches. (Getty Images) (PeopleImages via Getty Images)

Sitting down for hours at a time is a normal part of our everyday lives, but people are becoming more aware of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle.

Health experts warn that sitting down for too long without getting up and moving around can be detrimental to our physical health, resulting in stiff muscles and pain. It can also increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, among other illnesses.

However, it might be a lesser known fact that sitting down for long periods of time can also make the muscles in your buttocks 'forget' their essential functions. According to fitness experts, this is known medically as 'gluteal amnesia', or 'dead butt syndrome'.

Despite the light-hearted name, dead butt syndrome can have serious effects on the body. The muscles in our glutes are important for stabilising the pelvis and maintaining proper body alignment - if they 'forget' their roles, it can lead to pain and loss of strength.

What is dead butt syndrome?

Woman hand holding her bottom because hemorrhoids
Sometimes, sitting for too long can lead to numbness and pain in your glute muscles. (Getty Images) (bymuratdeniz via Getty Images)

Fitness experts at Mirafit.co.uk, a fitness equipment brand, say the condition occurs when the glute muscles become inactive because of extended periods of sitting, lack of physical activity, or improper muscle engagement.

However, dead butt syndrome is entirely preventable - and as with most issues that are linked to sitting down for too long, the answer lies in getting up and making sure you move.

"Preventative techniques and treatments usually include specific exercises to strengthen and reactivate the glutes and adjustments to daily habits to prevent further muscle inactivity."

What are the symptoms?

Main symptoms of ‘dead butt syndrome’ include:

  • Numbness in the glutes

  • Pain that starts in the lower back or bottom and runs down the back of the leg

  • Pain in the calves

  • Loss of strength in the glutes and hip flexors

  • Lower back pain

  • Knee pain

How do you prevent ‘dead butt syndrome’?

Mirafit’s fitness experts say: "It’s not always easy changing your lifestyle and habits if you are busy at work in front of a computer all day. However, prevention is always better than cure."

Make sure you get up and stretch or move around, instead of sitting at your desk all day. (Getty Images)
Make sure you get up and stretch or move around, instead of sitting at your desk all day. (Getty Images) (Westend61 via Getty Images)

Some tips to help combat the condition include:

  • Set a timer for every hour to remind yourself to get up and move aorund for a few minutes

  • Sit upright rather than slouching, as this will help open the hip flexors and ease stress on the glutes

  • Add exercises to your daily routine that will strengthen and condition the glutes and relieve tightness in the hips

Top exercises to prevent ‘dead butt syndrome’

Banded squats

Incorporating a resistance band around your knees when you do squats can help strengthen the glutes, quads and hamstrings, as well as target the gluteus medius muscle for a more extensive workout.

Monster walk

Place a resistance band around your ankles and position your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Take small steps forward at a slow pace. You will experience activation in the outer muscles of your glutes during this exercise.

Frog glute bridges

A standard glute bridge involves laying on the floor with your knees bent and raising your hips towards the ceiling. In a frog glute bridge, you position your feet closer to your bum and push your knees outwards, before raising your hips to the ceiling. This increases the engagement of the outer glute muscles.

Side plank with leg raise

In a side plank position, with your elbow placed beneath your shoulder, lift and lower your upper leg. This activates the gluteus medius, as well as stabilising the hips on the opposite side.

Drop lunge

In order to perform a drop lunge, start with feet together and take a step back with one foot, crossing it behind the standing leg. Drop the knee towards the floor, then push off the front food to return to the starting position. This increases hip mobility and strengthens the outer glutes and thighs.


Start with laying on your back with arms extended in front of your shoulders and knees bent above the hips. Extend one arm and the opposite leg away from you, then return to the starting position and switch sides. This workout stregnthens abdominal muscles and promotes proper hip alignment.

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