Dead Butt Syndrome, I’ve got it, do you?

My butt died. No really, it did. My butt may be dead but there is hope. I can bring it back!

Dead Butt Syndrome

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.

Dead Butt

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?

Hip Pain

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.

weak gluteus medius

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.

If you’d like to know more about strengthening your butt or improving your gait you can read additional articles here, here and here.

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?

26 thoughts on “Dead Butt Syndrome, I’ve got it, do you?

  1. I was also diagnosed with mild scoliosis, causing me lower back pain. But it has now worsened due to my pregnancy and I’m having difficulties in moving, especially when standing up and laying in bed. Do you know some exercises I could do to alleviate the pain? I’m nearing my due date now though.

    • Sorry for my delayed response. There are some exercises that I have done from youtube but I don’t know that you could do them so late in pregnancy. Mild yoga is very helpful and there are yoga programs on youtube for people with scoliosis, I like this one. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. If you find something that works besides the yoga let me know.

  2. DBS sounds like it’s painful!

    I don’t have DBS but I do have hip issues (I blame the kids) and started adding strength training to my workouts about a month ago. Within a week I noticed a difference after my runs. When I signed up at my new gym I got 3 sessions with a trainer as part of the package. She recommended CXWORX 1 or 2 times a week for core and weights 3-4 times a week. If I can’t get to the gym I’ve been doing lunges and squats while holding 25lb dumbbells.

  3. Hi! I just found your blog through hrg.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with that! I have scoliosis too but it doesn’t really effect my long distance running, mine is more up high. I go to chiropractor every now and then just to adjust my hips! Works wonders!

    • Hi Candice. I love your blog by the way. I have heard that chiropractors are awesome at dealing with scoliosis but I haven’t tried one yet, I think I just might make an appointment after the New Year. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

  4. Flower when I tore my Achilles’ tendon the PT said I had a weak core ( especially the hips) thus I started weight training and cycle classes ….. It improved my running ….. A lot …..but ( or should I say butt) I have become lazy with the weight training the past 6 months , but increased my mileage….. Dumb move, now my pirfomis/ it band is acting up …and my pace is awful…I love running too, but injuries STINK. My New Years resolution is get a stronger core and to try and not be so obsessive about weekly mileage

    • Mine too! We can help each other! We could do the buddy system and hold each other accountable. Because lord knows, I need help. I have a tendancy to push my mileage to the max…and I should know better. I may even take a spin class or two.

    • Thanks Nathan. And you’re right, it is a serious issue so I hope other runners will learn from my mistake and get in that strength training!

    • It is hard! I have the same problem. I have never found anything I love as much as running. What works for me is telling myself over and over this will make me run faster and that helps get me through weight sessions and cross training.

  5. I’ve never heard of DBS but I have a related issue (well, I think it’s related LOL). My IT band and pirformis muscles on my right leg tighten up causing sciatic pain up and down my right side. It’s pretty much gone from foam rolling but I do have a flare up every couple of months but it’s not as intense anymore.

    • It does sound a lot like DBS. I would definitely try some cross training and weights and see if that alleviates it all together. I get that sciatic pain and dear Lord, it sucks, I hope you dont have it too often.

    • LOL, me too! I’m increasing my cross training and also adding back in the weights. I’ll be posting the results. Be sure to let me know your progress too.

  6. Wow..this is the first I’ve ever heard of DBS. I may have had it before..I’ve been trying to cross train with either Jillian Michael’s killer buns n thighs or insanity. I like doing jump squats too. It burns the quads and bum.
    A runner reviewed Jillian’s killer buns n thighs and said it helped improve her overall running and time by so much. Plus the dvd is only 9 bucks. 🙂

    • I’ve actually heard that Jillian Michaels insanity is awesome for runners. I’m going back to my weights and some cross training but I may add a few Tracy Anderson Method workouts too just to see what happens. I’m not sure if I’m ready for Jillian yet, she kind of scares me 😉

  7. Wow..this is the first I’ve ever heard of DBS. I may have had it before..I’ve been trying to cross train with either Jillian Michael’s killer buns n thighs or insanity. I like doing jump squats too. It burns the quads and bum.
    A runner reviewed Jillian’s killer buns n thighs and said it helped improve her overall running and time by so much. I

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