You may not have heard of it before but there is a real, diagnosable condition out there called “dormant bum syndrome” and it could be responsible for the chronic pain in your back, knees and even in your feet.

The truth is our derriere is an essential piece of equipment that is rendered dormant through inactivity. Anyone working a full-time desk job is not using their bum muscles: the gluteous maximus, medias and minimus, nearly enough to maintain strength, posture and flexibility, and it is causing all sorts of painful problems.

These three muscles in the bum have an important job to do. The gluteous medias and minimus are internal and take responsibility for manoeuvring our legs in the direction we choose while the gluteous maximus looks after our gait; it’s the part that we feel squeezing with each uphill step.

The bum muscles are part of the wider musculoskeletal system, interconnecting each part of the body in a web so they can work together as a single unit to do things we love like running, jumping, dancing and so on. If one part of the musculoskeletal system is weak, such as the bum, there is a flow on effect. If the gluteous maximus is too weak to support your body weight then the lower back must step up. The lower back will become tight as it takes on extra weight loading. Or, if the smaller muscles in the bum are weak then the legs cannot form the safest position for walking adding unnecessary stress to leg muscles.

Other body parts are good at stepping in to help, but they can’t sustain the extra work for very long without issues occurring. This is where athletes get into trouble too. If they have a weak posterior and continue repeated, heavy exercises the hip flexor will fall under stress too.

On ABC radio, physiotherapist Anna-Louise Bouvier pointed out a few ways to identify if you could issues stemming from dormant bum syndrome.

  1. A dormant bum results in the muscles sliding down and becoming “saggy”.
  2. Rise up from a lunge position. You are likely to have dormant bum syndrome if your calf or thigh muscles tighten to help you balance.
  3. Do you feel pain in the legs or feet when you walk? The joint pain you feel in your knees and ankles might actually be due to a weak posterior.

It these indicators are ringing some alarm bells the best thing you can do is get moving. Or, if you recognise your lifestyle is sedentary, you should also get moving because prevention is the most effective way of taking care of dormant bum syndrome.

Our top tips for keeping the glutes in peak condition follow:

  1. If there is a choice between a lift and stairs – choose the stairs!
  2. Go for a challenging walk uphill to increase the work the gluteous maximus has to do.
  3. Incorporate squats and lunges into your day, e.g. when waiting for the kettle to boil.
  4. Get up frequently during the day: fetch glasses of water, talk to coworkers instead of emailing, send documents to the printer on the opposite side of the office. It simply gets the glutes moving.
  5. Walk on the spot bringing your knees up to your chest for 30 second sets.
  6. Standing straight and tall, balance on one leg and lift your leg straight up behind you. The stationary leg is supporting you while the moving leg is working on the gluteous maximus. Try lifting your legs to the front or side to give gluteous medias and minimus a workout too.