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Awaking the Dormant Butt

Mike Wright PT, DPT, OCS, ATC

I don’t think I like anything labeled as dormant. Dormant volcano? Doesn’t mean no volcano. Dormant relationship? Never a good description. Dormant Butt? That can’t be good.

Dormant Butt Syndrome basically comes down the inactivity, weakness, and sometimes pain associated with the three muscles that make up the gluteal muscle group. These three muscles – gluteus maximus (think back of hip), gluteus minimus (side of hip), and gluteus medius (side/posterior) all work to perform hip movement and stabilization throughout activities of the day. From standing to walking to squatting, these muscles should play a vital role in our ability to move in an efficient manner. When these muscle fall into a dormant state, muscle weakness, fatigue, and tightness can occur within the region which can lead to altered mechanics, myofascial trigger points, referred pain, overuse and inflammation, tyrannosaurus rex attacks, and more (ok, maybe not that last one – but you never know, have you seen Jurassic Park 2? The T-rex hijacks at boat! How does that happen?). These imbalances in one area of the body can lead to imbalances and pain in other areas and this is why it is important to awake the dormant butt. Our bodies work in a linked system – ankle, foot, knee, hip, back pain could all be related to a sleeping butt. Back to the dino for a second. You would think there was one guy on the boat that would be told to stay at the controls no matter what happened. A t-rex has short arms, they can’t operate ship controls. Anyway, back to sleeping butts

In my interaction with runners, I like to use the phrase “run with your butt” to get the point across about the importance of gluteal muscles in running. The glut musculature plays a key role in alignment and stability throughout the running gait cycle to provide proper mechanics. This also applies to those that walk as well, not just runners.

Think about at car for a minute. If your front alignment is off, tires wear differently and quicker and handling suffers, among other things. When your glute muscle function is off, your body can have changed points of stress and wear and often pain occurs. So, if you just change the tires and don’t address alignment, the problem is bound to reoccur right? If you just try to treat a pain area and don’t address problems in the gluts, the problem is bound to reoccur right?

How do you awake a dormant butt? The first step is to identify which muscles have impairments and to help identify what type of impairment is there. Is it weakness, trigger points, tightness, endurance problems? Good news. Physical therapists are great at figuring out what the impairments are and then developing a treatment approach to help resolve the problem.

Dormant Butt is real. Run (and walk) with your butt. T-rexs don’t make responsible ship captains.