Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are leading to what experts are calling “Gluteal Amnesia.” While new technologies, automation and robotics result in productivity gains, they often create jobs that are less active and more sedentary. Sitting has become the new smoking.
Gluteal Amnesia is when the gluteal muscles (primarily your butt muscles) no longer function as intended. It’s as if they have fallen asleep. And the reason is prolonged sitting. Sitting causes these muscles to become weak from non-use and overstretched. You can also overwork them and cause them to be too tight by running or hiking too hard. Both conditions can create a loss of range of motion in the hips and sacrum leading to pain not just in the gluteal area but also pain in the hips, legs and low back.
My guess is that if you are reading this post you are doing so while sitting. If that is so, go ahead and give those gluts a big squeeze and then release them. You should feel them tighten and then relax. While a slack muscle is not necessarily bad, it does distort the slight natural tension that should exist in the gluts. When you sit, you actually flatten these muscles causing them and the surrounding fascia to stretch and lengthen. As with all muscles when one set is weak, others need to do double duty and take over. These would be the quadriceps and hip flexors. And because these muscles are overworked, they will continue to cause the gluts to be overstretched. This creates a never ending, self-reinforcing cycle of pain. For healing to occur, you have to break the cycle. But how? What can you do?
- Stop sitting so long. Get up frequently during the day. At least once every 20 minutes for a minute or so even it is to just stand.
- Squeeze and release those butt muscles at least three times in a row each hour.
- Walk more. Gentle walking is a great way to strengthen the gluts.
- Get a massage.
Massage Therapy can help restore balance by relaxing tight muscles, increasing blood flow to heal overstretched areas and most of all restore balance. Massage can also address other areas of the body that may be affected by prolonged sitting like shoulder and neck pain. Pain in one area is often caused by an imbalance in another. Your Massage Therapist is a valuable ally in helping you figure this out and bringing your body back into harmony with itself.