Have your glutes forgotten how to do what they are supposed to do (extend your hip)? This question may be hard to answer, because you’re not sure how to tell whether or not your glutes are working. Here are some easier questions: Are your hamstrings or hip flexors tight? Do you have pain in your lower back? Do you spend a large portion of your day in a seated position? If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is a good chance that you are suffering from gluteal amnesia- your butt has forgotten how to work. Other common names for this problem are reciprocal inhibition or synergistic dominance. Basically, when you are sitting for long periods of time, the hip flexors (located on the front of your hip, they help you bend at the waist) tighten up. The antagonist muscle (the glutes) are inhibited and they shut off. Then when it comes time to straighten up and stand, the synergist muscle (the hamstrings and the erector spinae muscles in the back) have to do all the work. The glutes are supposed to be doing most of the work. They are rather large and super strong muscles, so when their weaker friends have to take over, those friends start complaining. And you know when friends start complaining there can be a chain reaction. The whole body will start having strange pains all over and it may start looking wierd. An atrophied butt muscle does not look pretty!
The good news is that dysfunctional glutes are not a lost cause. The easiest way to solve the problem is to stop sitting, but for most of us this is not an option (You could always become a personal trainer:) For those of you who must sit all day, there are tons of great warm-up exercises that will teach you how to get your butt in gear. Come on in to Fitness Together to learn more.