10 Ways to Combat “Dead Butt Syndrome”

Do you have Dead Butt Syndrome?

Do you have “Dead Butt Syndrome”? I do. No, it doesn’t mean my butt’s been given the Last Rites; It’s when your glutes don’t fire because your hips are too tight, which can lead to lower back and hip pain, tight IT bands and injury… and a fanny as flat as a pancake. It’s especially common in runners, but it can also hit cyclists and yogis. The good news is you can avoid it and even reverse it with a few simple tweaks. Here, Kevin Olson, a Master Trainer at Kinesis Konnection, tackles Dead Butt Syndrome and gives us some simple strategies to revive our rears (and prevent those pesky injuries)…

What the heck is Dead Butt Syndrome and how to prevent it…

Your glutes are arguably the most important muscles the human body has. They are the most powerful hip muscles and are extremely important when it comes to human kinetic movement. That said, when they’re not working correctly, other muscles must work harder to accomplish whatever movement is being done. Over time, chronic injury such as IT band syndrome or low back pain are likely to occur. This issue is referred to as Dead Butt Syndrome.

Dead Butt syndrome can be caused by too much sitting
Think about how many hours a day we are sitting. Most of us commute to a desk job and then we come home and watch TV. All that sitting adds up – and causes your hips and knees to flex while putting the glutes in an elongated and relaxed position. Over time, the hip flexors become tight and weak… and before you know it the brain has forgotten how to contract the glutes, and they become “dead,” so to speak.

Dead Butt syndrome can be prevented or reversed…
The solution: Lengthen the hip flexors and strengthen the glutes. When a muscle is stretched, it allows the brain to cut off stimulation to that muscle and stimulates the opposite muscle to contract. A great way to accomplish this is to foam roll the hip flexors and quads, and then stretch them out. Then end with glute strengtheners like hip extensions or simply squeeze the glutes together and hold for a few seconds. Repeat these exercise until the muscles feel fatigued, rest, then repeat. In no time, the glutes will “rise from the dead” and allow for natural hip motion and a more efficient gait pattern.

Stretch out those hip flexors first to better engage the glutes during exercise
Stretch out those hip flexors first to better engage the glutes during exercise

Here are a few more things you can do to get your glutes back in the game…
Before exercise
-Foam roll your hip flexor and quads
-Stretch your hip flexor and quads
-Fire up your glutes with simple exercises like hip extensions, reverse lunges and bodyweight squats

During exercise
-Pay attention to what muscles are being used
-Always move from the hips first when doing multi-joint movements (lunges or squats)
-Think about rotating your pelvis backwards to better engage gluts and abdominal muscles

After exercise
-Stretch your hip flexor and quads again

Helpful everyday tips
-Stand on a regular basis (too much sitting weakens glutes)
-Walk more (think about walking with the hips, not the knees)
-Practice squeezing the butt muscles regularly (the more they contract, the more “awake they stay)

Kevin Olson, Master Trainer at Kinesis Konnection
Kevin Olson, Master Trainer at Kinesis Konnection


  1. I started taking classes at Kinesis Konnection, or “KK” as it is often called, a few weeks ago. I can only go once per week, because I race bicycles and my other training days are on the bike. Yet already my core is tighter and, yes, my glutes are kicking in. They are ‘lifting’ and rounding out, as they should. This really benefits my cycling, as glutes are (a) hard to work on the bike, but (b) make a big difference when the race is on the line. I found KK through fittbd.com, and just love the place.

    And no, I’m not affiliated, nor was I prompted to post this in any way. I’m just your basic health and fitness freak, who loves to read about Allison’s latest discoveries. I was a couch potato until a few years ago but now, at 59, am in the best shape and health of my life.

  2. My PT said I didn’t have dead-butt syndrome, but I can prevent it. She described it simply: Runners (and other athletes) focus hard on building their quads, to the detriment of supporting and/or connecting muscles. The result was that gluteus maximus and minimus don’t have to work as hard and eventually atrophy. She had two simple suggestions:
    1. Integrate balance exercises during core work and drills. Good balance starts at the ankles and goes all the way up to your head.
    2. Yoga.

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