Physical therapist Chris Kolba recently coined the term dormant butt syndrome, and made the news with his catchy phrase. News of the newly named issue even made it onto "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," the NPR news quiz, where I first heard the term. But this phenomenon has long been acknowledged, even without a cute name, by trainers and Pilates instructors alike. I often referred to this problem as glute amnesia — the muscles have simply forgotten what to do, which is to turn on and help absorb the impact of each step as you walk and run. When your butt isn't firing the shock of the impact moves up and down the kinetic chain causing pain in the low back, hips, knees, and even as far as the ankles.
The problem stems from sitting for prolonged periods of time, which tightens the hip flexors — the muscles that pull the knee toward the belly — and eventually turns off of the glutes. These two muscle groups are referred to as "antagonists" and are at odds with each other like the hero and villain in a Shakespearean play. But the muscles that pull the body into the fetal position, like the hip flexors, tend to dominate their antagonist. So to give your glutes a fighting chance, you need to loosen up the front of your hips and then fire up your booty. Here's how: