Dormant butt syndrome (yes there such a thing) is defined as weak buttocks (gluteal) muscles and tight hip flexors. The gluteal muscles are weak and lengthened from lack of use and the hip flexors are short and tight from overcompensating. This occurs from prolonged inactivity and also from poor form when doing functional moves such as running, walking, squatting, or stair climbing.Experts at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center worked with patients suffering from knee, hip, or back injuries and now believe that many of these issues are linked to the glutes. The muscles are still there, but they have amnesia. An easy way to assess if you have weak glutes is to check your posture. When standing upright your “beltline” or pelvis should be level. If your beltline dips down in front, you may not be contracting your gluteal muscles.
The main function of the gluteal muscles is to move the hip through extension, abduction, and rotation. When walking, we should actively engage the glutes to push the body forward. If they are dormant we rely more on the hip flexors, back, and knees.
To reverse dormant butt syndrome, start with stretching the hip flexors and the quadriceps on the front of the thighs. Then move to strengthening. A simple exercise is the glute squeeze. Squeeze the buttocks together, hold 10 seconds, then relax. You can do this sitting, standing, or lying down. Once you are aware of the feeling of activating the glutes, try a hip bridge. Lie on your back with the feet flat on the floor about hip width apart and the knees bent. Engage the gluteal muscles and lift the body in a straight line from the shoulders, hips, and knees. Lower. Repeat 10 times. If the hamstrings cramp, reduce your range of motion.
Always balance your workouts by focusing on the back side as well as the front.