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Is Your Butt Running?

Apr 16, 2022

Your buttocks, and the strength of the multiple muscles that form it, are significant to improving run capacity and preventing injury. If you experience low back pain, hip pain, hamstring tension, or even shin splints, during or after a run you may want to look at the strength and function of your buttocks muscles.

Gluteal Amnesia /ˈɡlo͞odēəl/ /amˈnēZHə/ or "dead butt syndrome," happens when your glutes "forget" how to activate correctly. Inactive glutes can be a factor in several issues, including:

Krista Dennett, LivBTR Wellness Specialist, has been a pelvic floor exercise rehabilitation specialist for more than eight years and explains how gluteal amnesia impacts both women and men, contributing to what is known as pelvic floor dysfunction.

Pelvic floor issues are typically linked to women, specifically postpartum women. Still, you might be surprised to learn pelvic floor-related weakness manifests because of a lack of gluteal function and impacts both women and men.

Dominant quads, posture and sitting for long periods of time contribute to a reduction in glute function.

When performing squats and lunges, if we ignore our muscles and don't check in with our glute function, it will cause the quads and hamstrings to dominate.

In the case of posture, two common positions that impact glute function is a posterior tilt of the pelvis and hips pushing forward or, more often in the case of men, we see a rigid military stance.

The sitting posture creates short tight hip flexors and lengthening of the glutes, leading to their lack of ability to fire. In turn, hamstrings begin to overcompensate.

Glutes can either be atrophied (having lost effectiveness or vigour due to underuse) and weak or hold tension. Having worked with countless individuals in pelvic floor exercise rehabilitation, Krista indicates the most common issue is butt gripping. The glutes hold tension to keep the body stable, but underneath that tension lies the weakness in the muscles.

The body moves in a homeostasis fashion, meaning if left to its own devices, it chooses the path of least resistance in movement. Therefore, other muscles start to overcompensate when glute amnesia exists. However, they can't handle the load, pulling you out of alignment and leading to imbalances, pain, and other dysfunction-related symptoms. When the glutes lack functional strength, they need to be reminded how to work.

Krista refers to a release-retrain process. First, release the overworking muscles and tension, then retrain the entire system's function.

Release exercises aim to relax overworked muscles to allow for a mind-body connection when rebuilding function. Stretching alone won't alleviate these issues without a strategy to engage the glutes in exercise and daily movement. Plus, let's face it, many of us aren't the most dedicated stretchers as it is slow and tedious.

Retraining exercises focus on progressively activating the glutes. Starting by isolating just the glute muscle, to retraining its different positions and movements ...  from floor to standing multi-joint exercises.

A misconception is focusing on the location only of the source of pain. For example, if you're experiencing low back pain, consider release exercises for the obliques and hip flexors. Targeting these areas for stretches before retraining the glutes helps alleviate the muscles pulling the pelvic joints (SI and pubic joint) out of alignment, which in turn causes the pain.

Don't wait until the pain begins. Check-in with those glutes and incorporate targeted exercises to help you run faster, longer and injury-free!



The LivBTR Wellness 6-week Run Training Program provides you with a run assessment, including specific techniques to determine your glute function, and a training schedule with a balance of running and strength training for individuals looking to learn to run, return to run or increase distance or time. If you're looking for more personalized support, work directly with Krista or Brenley in their specialized training program! The Run Training program begins on April 24th.

Move Forward, Give Back virtual charity run is returning this year on the weekend of June 4/5. This year we are raising funds for Project 11, an important charitable organization bringing mental health initiatives into schools across Canada to support children in grades K-12.

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