With many Australians working more than the average 38-hour week, there is one muscle group that is often left at the bottom end of health considerations.
A lazy butt or dormant bottom syndrome is increasingly becoming an issue as we spend more time sitting down and it can lead to other injuries, physiotherapist Anna-Louise Bouvier told 702 ABC Sydney.
Ms Bouvier said 80 per cent of injuries were caused by the overuse of muscles, which often was the result of inactive bottom muscles.
“A lot of people will get Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis (heel pain) but it’s often not necessarily a problem down there — it’s because you actually have a buttock that doesn’t work.”
The bottom has three layers: gluteus maximus (the largest muscle), gluteus medias and gluteus minimus.
The medias and minimus are “the smart guys — they do all the controlling and positioning of the femur”, Ms Bouvier said.
“When they don’t work very well, your knees tend to turn in or out and you can get foot problems.”
How to test your dormant bottom
Ms Bouvier said pain in your calves when running or walking was an indication that your body was not using the bottom muscles.
One way to measure the strength of your bottom is to try and rise from a lunge position, she said.
If you are unable to do so without tensing your calves or thigh muscles, then the bottom muscles are not strong enough.
Another indicator is a saggy bottom.
“Sadly, through dormancy … they slide down,” Ms Bouvier said.
Good exercises for your bum
- Glute stretch — Sit on a chair, bring one leg up so you cross the leg and let the ankle sit around knee level. Lift up out of the chest and lean forward a bit more and relax into it.
- Walk up a hill — Keep your knees a bit bent and push up from your hips rather than through your toes. Walking poles are fantastic to help you use your buttocks.
While standing desks in the workplace are a growing trend and may lower health risks like heart disease and diabetes, Ms Bouvier said the way you stand has significant effects on your buttocks.
She said if you slump on one leg, as many do, “people then get all these problems from the muscles not working”.
“If you slump, your buttocks won’t work at all.”
To exercise your buttocks, Ms Bouvier suggested taking the stairs, doing lunges where possible as well as single-leg splits or squats.
For people who are required to sit all day, like 702 ABC Sydney caller Greg who spends up to 10 hours a day sitting in the car, he was advised to practise lunges during break times.
“When you sit on the butt, squeeze your bottom together and bring some circulation,” Ms Bouvier said.
“Another trick is when you go to the toilet, before you get up, hover over the toilet and do 10 little squats.”
Cycling was also “perfect” for strengthening bottoms but only if the body is correctly aligned.
“If people have poor technique and they slump a lot on the bike and the seat is too high, they will overuse their hamstrings or their quads,” Ms Bouvier said.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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