Gluteal amnesia is a common condition where your glutes are unable to activate reliably.
While gluteal amnesia can be caused by nerve damage or disease, by far the most common cause is a simple case of “use it or lose it” from sitting for too long.
Sitting lengthens your glute muscles, while prolonged sitting will see your glutes weaken. Over time, they’ll lose mass and go into “amnesia”, where your nervous system has simply forgotten how to “turn on” your glute muscles.
Exercise isn’t just about building muscle mass, it’s also about developing the connections from your brain through your nervous system to your muscles. The same way studying helps you memorise facts, exercise helps your body memorise movement.
How can I tell if I have gluteal amnesia?
The easiest way to spot potential gluteal amnesia is to look at yourself side on in the mirror while standing in a relaxed position. If your belt line is tilted forward, it may be a sign of gluteal amnesia.
Your glutes are supposed to activate while you’re standing, keeping your trunk upright and your pelvis horizontal. If your pelvis is tilting forward, it means that your glutes aren’t doing their job.
You should also be able to activate your glutes at will, clenching them together or flexing them individually. In severe cases of gluteal amnesia, neither is possible.
What are the dangers of gluteal amnesia?
Your glutes are some of the most important muscles in your body. They provide power when you’re walking or running, and keep your spine and pelvis in the correct position.
The pelvic tilt mentioned above puts excess strain on your lower back, which ends up with a pronounced curve due to the position of the pelvis. Your hips, knees and even ankles are also at increased risk of injury.
In later years, when regular walking is vital for preventing loss of muscle and bone density, the loss of mobility caused by gluteal amnesia can have a severe impact on the health of your entire body.
How can I cure gluteal amnesia?
Gluteal Amnesia can usually be fixed with a simple combination of lifestyle changes and do-at-home exercises.
Firstly: sit less. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re at your desk or binge-watching television, but remembering to regularly stand up, stretch and activate your glutes will go a long way to preventing gluteal amnesia.
Next are the exercises. Your instinct may be to start doing squats, but if your glutes have forgotten how to turn on, all squatting is going to do is tire out your legs or – worse – give you an injury.
What you want are exercises that focus on activating your glutes and little else, rather than compound exercises like squats that activate many muscles at once.
For a complete workout of both your gluteal medius and your gluteal maximus, you should do a routine of glute bridges and leg lifts.
Both these exercises can be performed at home with no equipment, and are easily supplemented with the addition of weights or bands.
For details on how to perform these exercises, click here for my blog on glute training.
Concerned about gluteal amnesia? Get in touch with us
While gluteal amnesia can be fixed at home, diagnosis often isn’t as simple and you may have developed many other injuries, weaknesses and imbalances.
At West London Physiotherapy, we provide a full assessment of your physical health, lifestyle advice to make fitness easy and exercise programmes precisely prescribed to your condition.
To book your appointment, get in touch with us now at firstname.lastname@example.org