As technology becomes a building block in our society, most of us are now bound to our seats, looking at screens longer than ever. Prolonged sitting has been considered by a Lancet study as the new smoking due to its health risks. One of which is the weakening and potential tear on one of the buttock muscles called gluteus medius muscle.
Here at Fort Myers Chiropractic Studio, we aim to educate patients about the importance of adequate muscle activity to avoid muscle pain in the gluteal muscles like gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.
What is the Gluteus Medius?
The Gluteus Medius Muscel is one of three gluteal muscles in our buttocks. It starts at the surface of the ilium or the uppermost and largest part of our hip bone and runs in a slant or oblique position to support the strongest bone of our body which is the femur or thigh bones.
Gluteus medius is sandwiched between two of the three gluteal lines or curved muscles that support the ilium and underneath the fascia lata. The inferior gluteal line is the less distinct muscle close to gluteus medius but is more directed towards the spine.
What is the Function of the Gluteus Medius?
Gluteus medius is responsible for stabilizing our pelvis when we walk, run, or stand. It helps keep the hip in a neutral and balanced position through hip abduction and medial rotation of the hip. If you try to lift your leg or raise your left foot, your glute med muscles receive the pressure of your stance and keep your hips in a level position.
If your gluteus medius gets weak, the other side of your hip will drop whenever you move your leg up or forward. While it may not cause any pain at the start, the pressure placed on the gluteus medius muscle will be distributed to the surrounding muscles and tendons which may affect your knees and your ankles. Over time, this repetitive pressure can lead to painful conditions like gluteus medius muscle tendinopathy.
Dead Butt Syndrome AKA Gluteus Medius Tendinopathy
Dead butt syndrome is a condition wherein the gluteus medius becomes weak and tight and extends the tightness to the hip flexors. It can also cause a pinched nerve connected to the L4 and L5 level of the spine, which can cause numbness and pain shooting down in the buttocks, thighs, or legs.
Causes of Dead Butt Syndrome
Gluteus medius weakness occurs over time. Usually, it is a product of both sedentary and overactive use of the glute muscles.
The common causes of dead butt syndrome or glute med pain are as follows:
- Prolonged sitting during work hour
- Neglecting muscle strengthening exercises for athletes like runners, soccer players, and basketball players
- General inactivity and sedentary lifestyle
Symptoms of Dead Butt Syndrome
Gluteus medius pain or dead butt syndrome, in its early stage, can be tolerable. However, the advanced stages may tend to be too painful and may need certain pain management strategies. Due to its pain patterns, it is often misunderstood as sciatica, so it’s best to visit your Chiropractor for the right diagnosis.
The increasing pain and discomfort of dead butt syndrome can affect your mobility at work, the movement strategies of athletes, and overall quality of life. Here are the mild and advanced symptoms of dead butt syndrome that you should look out for:
- Discomfort and soreness when sitting
- Numbness after sitting for several hours
- Lower back and hip pain
- Pain shooting down from your buttocks to your legs
- Pain when lying down on one side
- Changes in walking stride due to pain
- Unbalanced posture when one leg is raised
- Inability to stand on one leg, such as when putting on pants
- Lateral knee pain
How Do Lifestyle Habits Increase The Risk of Dead Butt Syndrome?
Dead butt syndrome can develop from our daily habits. In some cases, our jobs and lifestyle can contribute to musculoskeletal problems. Here are some of its risk factors:
- Desk jobs, work-from-home setups, & driving routines: Prolonged sitting can weaken the glute muscles and cause them to get stiff and painful. The pain involved with these kinds of jobs usually manifests through lower back hip pain.
- Activities that promote the excessive use of your hip muscles: Extensive use of hip muscles may also strain the gluteus medius. These include walking, running, or hiking.
- Weight-bearing exercises: The added weight on the upper body may contribute to the added pressure on the hip muscles and cause strain.
- Overweight and obesity One of the risk factors of being obese and overweight is the added strain on the hip joints and the muscles. If these conditions are paired with inactivity, the weak muscles may fail to support the bones and lead to degenerative problems.
- Runner’s weight training complications: Runners who are skipping muscle strengthening and gluteus medius exercises often experience weak glute muscles which can lead to injuries affecting their knees and ankles.
- High-impact sports: Aside from running, sports that involve continuous running and high-impact movements like soccer and basketball may increase your risk for glute med pain due to overuse or strain on the glute muscles. Also, sports that require you to be in a “ready position” or an “athletic stance” often, or require side-to-side movements, like pickleball, tennis or basketball can also set the stage for dead butt syndrome.
How Is Dead Butt Syndrome Treated?
The good thing about gluteus medius pain or dead butt syndrome is you can recover from it through therapy and exercises. Here are some of the treatments that can help you restore your pain-free life:
- Gluteus medius stretches: Strengthening the glute muscles after years of being glued to a chair is one of the best ways to maintain healthy glute muscles. Glute med stretches are easy to do and can be squeezed into your hectic schedule. The best stretches for this include, the figure 4 stretch, “star fish” stretch are great for this condition. OTher stretches that address the piriformis muscle are also helpful.
- Gluteus medius strengthening exercises: One of the easiest muscle strengthening exercises that you can start is the glute bridge. The starting position is lying down on the ground and keeping your knees bent as you lift your hips. You may use a resistance band to help strengthen specific muscle groups.
- The RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate): The first treatment that you can apply immediately to your sore or tight glute muscle is to take a rest, apply cold therapy through ice packs or ice massage, and elevate your feet or hips.
- Non-surgical therapies: For advanced dead butt syndrome, pain management therapies might be necessary to help you keep on with your daily life. Here are some of the possible treatments to help you recover from debilitating hip pain:
- Deep Tissue Massage & Myofascial Release Techniques
- Dry Needling
- Adjustments to the sacral iliac joints, which may have become dysfunctional as a result of dead butt syndrome.
- Adjustments to the lower lumbar spine to remove subluxations that alter nerve communication to the gluteus medius and other gluteal muscles.
- Electric Muscle stimulation
- Cold Laser Therapy
- Ice Massage
We can HELP!
Over and underuse of our muscles are the common causes of muscle tightness, pain, and even muscle tear or damage. If you are feeling any pain, numbness, or soreness in the hip area, Dr. Hoch at Fort Myers Chiropractic Studio can help you find the source of the pain and provide you with the best pain management solutions. Call today at (239) 243-8735…and regain your active and pain-free life.