ADAM FRIEDMAN, SPECIAL TO THE MIRROR
A “caboose” is a word that is occasionally used for the butt. Unfortunately this has become an all-too-true analogy for much of today’s population. In the same way a caboose is pulled along for the ride the butt has literally taken a back seat to the rest of the body.
Our butt muscles are supposed to be a major contributor to the control of movement in our lower body, and support for our upper body. The decline of this function has been a silent cultural epidemic that is called “dysfunctional butt syndrome” (DBS). It results in the loss of valuable lean muscles in the butt, and excessive compensation in the low back and thighs, and subsequent poor flexibility, muscular and joint discomfort, chronic low back pain, and higher risk for injury.
If you look at yourself in the mirror and see a seamless transition between your lower back down to the back of your thighs, without a half moon shape of a butt, then you may have DBS. Some individuals have ample gluteal muscles, but they are not functioning as they should. This is still considered DBS.
Past injuries, faulty movement patterns, and excessive sitting can create what’s called “sensory motor amnesia” of the butt musculature, where the brain forgets how to properly activate the butt. This gives the unconscious brain the impression that the butt is unavailable to do its job, so it allocates the workload to other muscles, making them work twice as hard and twice as long. The brain and body are indifferent to proper muscle recruitment, and are willing to work with less than optimum conditions to get by for a while. Unconsciously our brains just care about survival, getting from point A to point B using whatever is available and willing to get the job done.
Most people don’t even notice the breakdown because the changes can be subtle. Before the realize it, they are compensating when they walk, stand, sit down, and bend over to tie their shoes.
Another culprit is poor footwear, such as heels. The higher the angle of the heel, the higher the risk of DBS. Heels place the ankles and pelvis in a position that can decrease the stimulus of the glutes (describing the muscles in the butt). Heel or no heel, without the right stimulus, the butt tends to fade into indefinite oblivion.
Awareness of this condition has been low because for some, the dimensions around their hips are commonly offset by gains in body fat around the butt, thighs, and mid-section. For others, the butt has not been on their “radar” to even take notice, or they just think it’s a positive to have no butt because it helps them look thinner.
It’s time to raise awareness and put a stop to this unnecessary epidemic through education and exercise. If you have DBS, and do not work to correct it, this could ultimately affect the quality and quantity of your movement, virtually taking the freedom and enjoyment out of some your favorite activities. On the other hand, if you take action with a corrective exercise program, there can be dramatic improvement in function and muscle tone. Listed below is a progression of exercises that you can follow to regain function in the glutes. It will be the most beneficial to perform these exercises with your full concentration to maintain a deliberate tension in the butt, so that it is fully engaged in being the dominant muscle working to move and control your body through the entire range of motion.
At first you may feel other areas working predominantly, and you may not feel the butt at all. This is because the muscles that you feel are over-activated, super-sensitized, and have been taking on too much of the load because the butt has been in hibernation. It will take a high level of focus and correct technique to provide the environment for the butt to wake up. With time and many repetitions, the butt will become fully connected with the brain.
Remember the mind-body connection doesn’t always happen on the first set, but on the second set there should be some noticeable difference. Use each set as a stepping-stone to build on, and to solidify that connection. Give yourself some time, and before you know it, the control over the butt will become second nature.
Find the ignition
• Standing Butt Squeezes 10-20 reps of contract
and relax for 2 seconds each
Put the key in the ignition
• Supine floor bridge holding for 30 seconds,
and up to 2 minutes
Turn on the engine
• Supine floor bridge hip raises 10-20 reps.
with two second holds at top (keep toes up in
the air so that your are pressing only from the
• Single leg balance exercises
Rev the engine
• Side lying clam shells 10-20 reps
• Side lying straight leg abduction 10-20 reps
Learn how to use the engine to
decelerate and brake
• Wall squats 10 reps
Learn how to use the engine to drive straight
• Dead lifts 5-10 reps
• Front squats 8-10 reps
• Lunges 10-20 reps
• Box step ups 10-20 reps
Learn how to use the engine to change lanes
• Side lunges 10-20 reps
• Transverse lunges 10-20 reps
Learn how to use the engine to
accelerate the car
• Plyometric jumps and lunges 5-10 reps
Following this simple progression of exercises and movements can get you and your brain’s motor control reacquainted with your butt. Relearn how to turn it on, and engage it functionally to become the superstar it was born to be.
Adam Friedman, CSCS, CN, CMT is a Kinesiologist, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Nutritionist, and Certified Massage Technician. He is the founder of Advanced Athletics, Inc. located right next door to the world famous Gold’s Gym in Venice, on the corner of Sunset Ave, and Hampton Drive, one block east of Main Street. To schedule a complimentary assessment please call 310.396.2100 or email Adam at [email protected] Otherwise, to learn more, visit www.advancedathletics.com.