Sitting is Making Your Butt Disappear

Sitting is Making Your Butt Disappear

Sitting for extended periods of time, day after day, week after week, at work, in the car, on the couch and even in the gym is making your butt shrink. And not in a good way.

Next time you are in the gym, take a look around. How many machines do you use while sitting after you have spent your entire day on your behind? All of this habitual sitting is making your gluteal muscles atrophy. Atrophy is the loss of muscle tissue due to lack of use. Translation: your butt muscles are literally disappearing.

So the phrase “use it or lose it” is perfect for this situation.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “I have plenty of butt!” Well, how much is actual muscle? All that junk in your trunk may just be excess fatty tissue. And if you do still have butt muscle left after chronic sitting, do you even use that muscle?

Dr. Stuart McGill, a spine specialist, coined the term glute amnesia, but most people recognize it from fitness expert Mike Boyle. Basically, we do not know how to use our butt muscles anymore. There is more to our butts than just looks (but don’t tell that to any of the ladies who get insurance on their fannies).

Some of the primary functions of our glutes include hip extension, rotating or stabilizing your pelvis, and giving the hip stability.

Sitting does not require activation of the gluteal muscles, and therefore our chronic seated position and lack of use is making our ever-valuable butt muscles shrink to nothing. Ever try squeezing your butt while seated? Pretty difficult. It’s not even half of the muscle tissue you can recruit while standing.

Some tips to use those booty muscles more:

  • Get a Standing desk
  • Walk around for conference calls
  • Walk and talk for meetings
  • For every 1 minute down on the bum, spend 1 minute standing (ex. 30 min. sitting, 30 min. standing)
  • Get a desk conversion kit ( or build your own–IKEA items you can mix and match)
  • Take the stairs

Your goal should be to spend more time standing than you do sitting over the course of the day. Our bodies were meant to be standing and active the majority of the time.

Some more benefits to keeping your butt integrity might include:

  • Decreased lower back pain
  • Improved physical performance
  • Increased hip mobility
  • Decreased tight hamstrings
  • Increased balance
  • Increased leg strength
  • Increased energy levels.
  • Increased blood flow

You hate to stand. What? But why?

First, you are not use to it. Think about it. Your body has been adapting to the seated position and has been working very hard to make you efficient at it. That’s what happens when you spend the majority of your time, upwards of 9 hours a day, slouched over a desk. Your body will adjust to what you do most, and if you’re spending those 9+ hours a day sitting, then sitting will be what your body will adjust to.

When you finally are active, you hurt because you have been adjusting to being in a chair, not being active and mobile like we are meant to be. And if you think that 1, 2 or even a 3 hour workout will be enough to counter all that sitting, think again.

What if you try using an exercise ball or get an ergonomic chair? Have you tried them? Have they worked for you? Try sitting with proper technique and see how long you last. It’s uncomfortable and unnatural to maintain. That’s why we go back to our slumped technique.

Standing up actually requires less work by your muscles once your body adjusts back to standing. So get into the habit now. Captain Morgan has it right. If you are new to standing and still adjusting, you want to raise one leg up. A simple foot stool or wooden block will do. This will allow your tight hip flexors to stop pulling on your pelvis and lower back, which can cause back pain. It will take time for them to adjust to standing, but this is for the best. Think of how many hours of sitting you are trying to reverse. In a short time, though, you will notice a difference.

There is more to just standing to bring the butt back to life, but it is a good start. Get up and off that rear and take a stand against disappearing butts.

David Fennell


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