My butt died. No really, it did. My butt may be dead but there is hope. I can bring it back!
Okay, I know what you’re thinking but there really is such a thing as ‘dead butt syndrome’ and I have it, and you might have it too, because it’s actually more common than you think; and it has nothing to do with what your butt actually looks like.
First, let me tell you what ‘dead butt syndrome’ is. In medical terms it is called gluteus medius tendinosis, but I prefer dead butt syndrome because, well, let’s face it, it just sounds cool (and it also helps that I can pronounce and spell it.)
DBS (Dead Butt Syndrome) is how it will be known moving forward and will be the term I use throughout the article in order to prevent carpel tunnel syndrome or CTS, not to be confused with CRS (can’t remember shit).
So, back to DBS, which is an inflammation of the tendons that are attached to the gluteus medius, which is one of the three muscles in your butt. And basically when the muscle becomes inflamed it causes serious hip pain, and in my case also lower back pain and the occasional knee pain.
The gluteus medius is located on the outer surface of your pelvis and it helps power your thighs forward. If you neglect your strength training and continue to put in long miles week after week, this muscle can eventually become inflamed due to the repetitive stress and the result is hip pain that can be so severe it could totally put a halt to your training.
I had a bout of the DBS last year after the Iron Girl half. For a few weeks after that race, I would go for a run but after a few miles just moving my legs forward felt extremely hard no matter how slow or easy the pace was. I felt like I had no strength to move forward even though I wasn’t even breaking a sweat, and finally after what should have been an easy 10 mile run, I had such intense back pain I knew it was time to find out what was wrong.
After speaking with my doctor, I was surprised to learn that the issue was my butt. But it’s in my hip, I said. It can’t be my butt, I said. My butt! Really?
When you’re a distance runner, your range of motion in your glutes is smaller than that of a sprinter. Because the motions are much more compact, the repetitive motion can cause imbalances. Some parts of your body will be more conditioned and more muscular than others, and this is why the gluteus medius is affected.
I also suffer from something that I’ve never mentioned on the blog before. I have scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. Mine is in the lower spine and isn’t severe enough for surgery, but does occasional cause back pain and definitely contributes to an imbalance in my posture. But you don’t have to have scoliosis to suffer from DBS, in fact, it’s fairly common in distance runners.
So, my hip pain, back pain, knee pain and quite possibly my Achilles pain probably all stem from this gait imbalance. I just needed to fix it.
What I did was to scale back on my miles a bit, and I added 3 days of weight training to my routine every week. By the summer, I was running 8 to 8 ½ minute miles regularly and that pace felt very comfortable. I also added a few minutes of planks every single day and that seemed to help too. I felt stronger and I knew it was working and as an added bonus, I also got rid of about 99% of my back pain.
So what happened?
Well, let’s be honest, I got lazy. I stopped working out with weights in October, and I didn’t do any planks for several months. It was bound to happen. I neglected my body. I didn’t take care of it and even though I had a migraine headache during the half marathon this past Sunday, I knew in my heart that once again, my butt had died.
I think I can honestly say that as a runner, strength training is a necessity. I’ve definitely learned my lesson and I’ll be adding strength training and weight sessions back into my routine immediately. I’m also looking into some cross training. I know it’s something I need to do, I just have to find something I like and that I’ll stick with. Hopefully, I can not only revive my dead butt but rebuild it so that it comes back stronger than it ever was.
Have you ever had Dead Butt Syndrome? Do you strength train? How often do you cross train? Got any suggestions for cross training that would help me?