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DEAD BUTT SYNDROME: From Sitting on Your Butt to Running Your Butt Off


Dead Butt Syndrome - (Image Credit: Shutterstock); Author picture - (Image Credit: Author)

Gluteus medius tendinopathy (GMT), also called Dead Butt Syndrome (DBS), is the inflammation of the tendons in the gluteus medius muscle. This is a smaller muscle of the buttock area, which serves as a stabilizer and supporter to the hip and pelvis when any weight bearing activity takes place.

This condition is actually quite painful and is most commonly found in distance runners, when a person intensely workouts, or when a person is just starting an exercise program.

DBS is becoming more and more common which is attributed to the long hours of sitting many people do and then those “sitters” use long distance runs as their form of exercise. However, even long distance running for anyone at all can bring this pain on.

Prevention Starts by Getting Off Your Butt

When a person runs or walks, the gluteus medius contracts as the weight of the body strikes upon the hip. As the gluteus medius activates (contracts), the hip flexor releases. Therefore, the hip and hip flexor and working in opposition.

However, if the tendon becomes inflamed, the gluteus medius might not activate and is therefore “dead” when you need it to work. Many runners have sedentary jobs, meaning the sit all day in a position that can cause the hip flexors to be tight. Stretching before running is advisable to loosen up the hip flexor.

Instead of just hitting the pavement, taking a moment to loosen up the hip flexor is advisable. Foam rolling is a great option (also called self-myofascial release). Dynamic warmups work too such as performing leg swings/kicks, walking high knees, or even walking before running can help.

Being proactive even if you don’t have this problem, is a preventable measure and an important component of self-care. Post workout stretching would then go hand in hand with this.

stretching workout

Practice Quality & Safe Training

Mis-training is also a culprit that causes Dead Butt Syndrome. Cross-training using weights is a popular running strategy for exercise programming for runners. The problem is that this weight training focuses on the major muscle groups, and tend to forget the smaller muscles that take on the pressure of the running impact motion.

When this problem happens, many runners just adjust their stride to make do with the pain and keep going. These can lead to other problems such as IT band syndrome, as well as DBS.
The quads, hamstrings, calfs, and hip flexors should be strength trained. For example, having short, tight hamstrings that are not strong, can cause the quads to overcompensate.

Now the hip flexor is confused and assisting more than normal. In the end, the kinetic chain of movement is faulty and injury is prone to occur. Using the hamstring and leg extension machines can help as well as performing dead lifts and the leg press machine. Calf raises in all three directions (in, out, and normal) will help balance these muscles.

Listen to Your Body Communicating Symptoms

The symptoms of DBS include stiffness and loss of strength to the hip area. Then of course during the walking or running, pain occurs. This pain can even shoot down the thigh, laying bed can be too uncomfortable, and if not addressed, this condition to worsen to hip bursa (extreme tenderness).

The trouble is that actual diagnosis by a doctor is not easy, rather, an MRI or X-ray will just rule out other problems.

Although most runners hate to hear it, but a doctor would likely recommend rest, ice, and cutting back running for treatment. Physical therapy and deep tissue massage are advisable.

deep tissue massage

Analysis of one’s running stride can also be performed to select corrective exercises to help address this problem. Sometimes proper shoes can help.

You literally need to “pace” exercise and take care of your body when it whispers so that you don’t wait until it screams. I call that a self-induced setback.

Less can be more an quality over quantity can be a good training plan. Not to mention this coming from the queen of exercise herself. Then a proper individualized training plan can be designed.

The key is to not sit, to stretch, and to make sure the distance you cover is within your body’s means to keep up with. In a world that has so many sedentary tendencies, DBS is another reason to stand up to your health.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content on our website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or therapy. You should NEVER disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to something you have read on our website and we will not be held responsible for any adverse health condition or injury that occurs as a result of doing so.
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Megan Johnson McCullough

Bodybuilder, Author, and Fitness Model

Megan Johnson McCullough is the owner of Every BODY’s Fit, fitness studio in Oceanside CA. She is an NASM Ma...

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