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What is glute amnesia?

Bum gone to sleep? Glute amnesia, also known as “dead bum syndrome”, is a condition in which the glute muscles stop activating properly – or “forget” how to activate during exercise.

gluteal amnesia

Whilst you may have never heard of glute amnesia until now, the condition is becoming increasingly common due to our typically sedentary lifestyles – a problem which has only exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic.

What causes glute amnesia?

Glute amnesia is typically caused by sitting down for too long in the same position, which leads to tight hip flexors and weak muscles, resulting in a process known as “reciprocal inhibition.” Reciprocal inhibition is a process in which a tight muscle ends up creating length in the opposite muscle, and if this endures for a long time, you mess up the process of muscle activation in your body – the neurons and signals used to fire your muscles become ineffective. Kind of confusing, right? Basically, if your hip flexors remain tight for long periods of time, (for example, during a 9-5 at the office) your bum muscles can become weak and lengthened, and as a result will stubbornly refuse to activate when you try to engage them.

Even certain types of exercise can cause glute amnesia – for example, if you’re a runner and you don’t tend to incorporate any other type of strength-training into your exercise regime, you can develop glute amnesia! This chance increases significantly if you have a desk job or spend a lot of your non-running time sitting down.

What does glute amnesia feel like?

So, how do you know if you have glute amnesia? The bad news is that this condition can happen to anybody – even if you exercise regularly. Put simply, glute amnesia can occur whenever your bum goes for long periods without being engaged – it can even be triggered by simply having bad posture! Not only that, but certain exercise moves create tension in the hips, meaning that even some workouts can increase your chances of developing dead bum syndrome. That’s why it’s always important to engage your glutes, even during leg workouts!

So, what does glute amnesia feel like? Typically, a number of symptoms might occur if you’re suffering from the dreaded dead bum syndrome:

Symptoms of gluteal amnesia:

  • Numbness or soreness in the bum area when getting up after sitting down for long periods of time
  • Loss of strength when lifting weights (having to lift lower weights than usual, for example)
  • Stiff hips, knees and back
  • Pain in lower legs

As you can see from the symptoms listed, having glute amnesia impacts not just your glutes and your fitness journey, but can cause problems in your entire body! Whilst the glute muscles are important in helping you create the perfect aesthetic for your derriere, they’re also one of the most important muscles in the body. Your glutes help with everything from lifting heavy objects to walking upstairs, so when they’re temporarily out-of-order, you’ll really feel it. And when your glutes are AFK, your back, legs and other muscles have to work twice as hard to compensate for their absent friend! So, if you start to have an achy back, legs (especially hamstrings) and hips, glute amnesia might be the culprit.

Is glute amnesia reversible?

Now, time for the good news! Yes, whilst it might be annoying and temporarily mess up your bum gains, glute amnesia is 100% reversible. So, if you think you’re suffering from gluteal amnesia, what’s the solution? The best way to treat glute amnesia is by forcing your bum muscles to engage, and this is achieved through a variety of lower-body and glute exercises.

Best exercises for fixing glute amnesia

TIP: When you’re performing the following exercises, always push from the heel of your foot and not the ball of your foot – this helps you to fully engage your gluteus maximus (the most important of your three glute muscles) and will help wake up your sleepy bum.

Glute Bridge

A glute bridge is a relatively easy, low-impact exercise move ideal for activating your sleepy glute muscles. Make sure to use an exercise mat and exercise socks/shoes so that your feet don’t slip during the movement.

1. Begin by laying on your back with your feet on the floor and your hands at your side, with your palms up or palms down depending on what is most comfortable for you.
2. To make sure that your legs are placed correctly, try to touch the back of your heels with your palms – you should be able to just reach them. Adjust your feet placement if you can’t touch your heels.
3. Without overarching your back, slowly lift your lower body towards the ceiling. When lifting your lower body, your knees should align perfectly with your ankles, and you should press your lower back into the mat to fire your core.
4. Lower your body and lightly graze the mat when you come down. Use a controlled movement to lower and raise your lower body and do as many repetitions as feels comfortable: begin with 20 and work your way up.

You can see glute bridge videos here. 

Lunge

Lunges are a great way to fire the glute muscles – make sure to squeeze your glutes as hard as you can during the movement (without compromising your balance) to get the muscles awake and engaged!

1. Begin with your feet parallel and extend one foot around 2 or 3 feet in front of the other.
2. Grab a pair of weights applicable to your fitness level. (You can leave the weights if you’re a beginner, or if you haven’t exercised in a long time)
3. Lower your body halfway to the ground, bending both knees and spreading your weight evenly between both feet. Keep your core straight and your head up.
4. Don’t try to go fast – try to control the movement to really feel your glutes, quads and hamstrings really fire up!
5. Try to complete 5-10 repetitions of the movement on each side.

For more exercises targeting the gluteus medius, check out our guide here.

How long does it take to fix glute amnesia?

With a couple of workouts per week targeting the glutes, your glutes should start to activate correctly again within a month. That being said, don’t rush and overextend yourself in a rush to fix your glutes. Glute amnesia is temporary, so just be patient, work your bum off and let your body do the rest!

Authors

I’m Chloe – a body confidence writer here at House of Peach! I help women to feel fabulous in the body they’re in and feel amazing in gym wear – regardless of their body shape and type. Unleash Your Peach.

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