Dead Butt Syndrome=What’s Happening Down There?

Apr 23, 2019


Have you ever sat so long at work, engrossed in your latest project, that your butt literally falls asleep? Goes numb? Known as Dead Butt Syndrome or “gluteal amnesia,” the condition indicates that the muscles of your rear end are forgetting how to do their job because –--of inactivity.

[Dead Butt Syndrome=What’s Happening Down There?]

When we sit too long, blood flow is restricted, nerves get irritated and, over time, our hip flexors tighten and our gluteal muscles lengthen. This doesn’t mean our butts are “dead;” it means they’re weak and not activating efficiently. It also means that other muscles have to work harder to compensate. Translation: in addition to a numb or possibly inflamed gluteal medius, you may also experience back, knee, ankle and foot pain. Symptoms can be mild and occasional or severe and long-lasting.

Several studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time has a major impact on how well we use our glutes—even when we exercise. For example, after an 8-hour day of working at your desk, you hit the gym for your daily workout. When your glute muscles aren’t activated properly during your run or your deadlifts, your smaller muscles end up taking over and instead of sore and stronger glutes, the next day you have a sore lower back, quads and tight hamstrings. For glute-strengthening exercises to incorporate into your workouts, see the exercise sections below.

[Reviving “Dead Butt”]

The primary source of Dead Butt Syndrome is a sedentary lifestyle—this includes a sedentary work-lifestyle. If you’re sitting at your desk for hours most days, you are increasing your risk. Keeping yourself active and healthy is key for prevention. So, how do you do this during your otherwise sedentary work day?


FIT Tip 1: As soon as you feel that “tingle,” GET UP AND MOVE. Those big muscles down there were designed for big movement—take a flight of stairs to deliver a message, do 20 squats in front of your desk, or take a brisk walk out to your car and back.

FIT Tip 2: For every hour of sitting, GET UP AND MOVE for 10 minutes to get the blood flowing. Set a timer on your phone and create the movement habit.

FIT Tip 3: Whether standing or sitting, do frequent “butt squeezes” throughout your day. Clinching and releasing your glutes can help fire up those glutes, especially when you are helplessly bound to that chair and cannot GET UP AND MOVE!

[Dead Butt Work Break Exercises]

Not afraid to perform micro-workouts at your desk? Circuit through these office-friendly moves to revive your back side! 

  1. Glute Activation Squats. Stand with hands on sits bones and perform 15 butt squeezes. Next place hands on hips and squat, pressing glutes to the back wall. Pause 2 seconds, press the heels of both feet into the ground and squeeze glutes as you return to standing. Do 10-20 reps.
  2. Lateral Leg Lifts. Stand tall with hands on back of chair or desk for balance. Lift left leg off the ground and flex your left foot. Slowly extend your leg to the left. Pause for 2 seconds and return. Complete 10-20 reps each leg.
  3. Letter 4 Leg Lifts. Stand tall with hands on back of chair or desk for balance. Place the ankle bone of your left leg on the heel of your foot. Your knee will be bent. Keeping this letter 4 leg formation, press left heel to back wall. Complete 10-20 reps each leg.

[Dead Butt Exercises for Your Workout]

Add these 4 exercises to your workout routine to help rebuild and retrain those gluteal muscles. Remember, these are functional moves not intended for heavy weight.

  1. Hip Bridge Walks with Glute Activation. Lying on your back, bend your knees so that your heels are directly under them. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Keeping your hips in this position, press your left heel into the ground as you lift your right knee to your chest, then lower your right heel to the ground. Repeat with your left leg, starting the move by pressing your right heel into the ground as your left leg lifts towards your chest. Perform 20 reps.
  2. Glute Activation Single Leg Squats. Place your hands on the back side of a chair or table. Lift your right leg off the ground and push your glutes to the back wall keeping your hips squared and your body in a squat position, pause. Press your left heel into the ground and return to standing. Perform 10 reps on each side.
  3. Modified Clam Shells. Lying on your right side, bend your left leg so your toe is touching or close to touching your knee. Keeping your right leg straight and your body still, lift your left knee off the ground and towards the ceiling. Perform 10-20 repetitions. And Switch sides.
  4. Side Steps. Wrap or tie a resistance band around both legs just above your knees. Tighten your core and band your knees so you are in a demi-squat (slight squat) position. Take 4 large steps to the right and 4 to the left. Repeat 3-5 times. 


Page, N. “Dead Butt Syndrome is a real thing. Here’s how to tell if you have it. Huffington Post((2018)

Graham, K. “6 Exercises to target the gluteal medius.” ACE Fitness Journal(2018)

Joh, K. “Dead Butt Syndrome: 5 things to know.” Michigan Health(2017)


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