OPMD* 3: Functional Strength
Try this icebreaker on your next group run: “Anyone suffering from Dormant Butt Syndrome?”
You might get little more than perplexed looks. But according to Chris Kolba, a longtime physical therapist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, you ought to command people’s attention.
Kolba, who has worked with aging athletes for much of his 20-year career, says an underconditioned derriere often pushes middle-age fitness buffs to the sidelines. Surprisingly, it can be the hale types, including runners, cyclists, walkers, and hikers, who suffer most from the problem. Kolba coined the name, and says the syndrome loosely resembles a car with failing suspension.
“The glutes are your big shock absorbers,” says Kolba. “If they’re weak or undertrained, your ability to diffuse shock is diminished.”
Runners, who upon each stride hit the ground with up to eight times their body weight, sometimes search—and search—for a cure to shin splints. They often have no idea that they’re suffering from Dormant Butt Syndrome.
Your rear also stabilizes almost every move you make. Kolba says that solid glutes help a body stay aligned and reduce foot pronation. Because the glutes extend around your body, they also provide straight-ahead power.
“Rotation and side-to-side muscles activate to help us move forward,” he says.
How are we failing to give our butts enough love? Sitting at our desks all day, as you might guess, doesn’t help. Sleeping eight hours per night in a fetal position can accentuate rear-related problems, too. Striking such a pose, night after night, can shorten your hip flexors, which, along with a weak butt, could trigger low back pain. An active life spent without performing rotational or lateral movements or exercises may also be to blame.
To get your rear in gear, pledge to perform a couple of strength-building exercises up to three times weekly. Check out the following video from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center for reference. Your entire body will appreciate the effort.
Seated Bridge at a Glance
Seated bridges unquestionably call upon your glutes.
- With a barbell of very modest weight set across your lap, sit against a bench-press-style bench with your feet and butt on the floor, and your knees parallel and bent.
- Keeping the barbell centered and across your hips, rest your shoulders and (extended) arms across the bench and lift from the waist until your hips and knees are roughly in line with one another.
- Slowly lower until your butt lightly contacts the floor, and repeat.
- In order to master the movement and technique, start with light weight and perform two to three sets of 12 repetitions.
- Over time, build to more weight and fewer reps. Kolba says women might want to average a 50-pound barbell; men, 80 pounds.
Lateral Lunge at a Glance
Lateral lunges work the glutes in a way that improves your body’s stability and alignment.
- Stand with your knees slightly bent, and your feet parallel and positioned a bit wider than your hips.
- With your arms at your side and holding a modestly weighted kettlebell in your left hand, step your right foot to your right and then perform a lunge with your right leg. As you stride to the right, your right hand slides behind your back and out of the way, while the left hand—holding the kettlebell and drifting right—comes to rest near the front of your right shoe at the deepest part of the lunge. The move is slightly reminiscent of a speed skater’s motion.
- The knee of your lunging leg should never extend farther from your body than than the toes planted underneath it.
- Perform six to 10 lunges on one side and then switch to the other. Complete two to three sets, and always maintain good upper-body posture.
*Old Person Move of the Day