Get off Your Butt! DBS Syndrome Is No Joke!

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You’re training for a marathon, and you feel twinges in your knee. You’re picking up your children and, ouch, your lower back aches. All of a sudden, your hips are sore. All these complaints may have one central source, according to new medical studies: DBS or Dormant Butt Syndrome.

I hadn’t actually previously heard of Dormant Butt Syndrome, a term coined by an Ohio physical therapist. The phrasing, then, made me smile—until I learned more about the big problems that come with this issue. Turns out, DBS really is no joke!

Physiologically, DBS is weakness of the gluteal muscles that forces other muscles and joints to compensate to give us the stability that the glutes cannot, culminating in back, knee, and hip pain. “Dormant” doesn’t mean that only couch potatoes experience this kind of pain—even very active people can suffer from DBS. This muscular condition is the result of sitting too long, sleeping in a fetal position, and our generally inactive lifestyles.

Of course, we’ve been hearing for years now that for our wellness, a sedentary lifestyle is like a ticking time bomb. Heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, a decrease in bone density, and cancer are all among the serious issues linked to sitting too much. DBS is just one more example of what happens when we keep our bodies too still.

So are you ready to cut DBS off at the pass? I know you are!

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Fire DBS. (It’s an under-performing colleague.)

For many of us, the workplace is a perfect setting for DBS to take hold. Think about how many hours you spend on the job each week. Do your tasks keep you tethered to one small area for many, if not most, of those hours?

Think outside the cubicle! A little creativity is all it takes to achieve some extra movement even within the confines of an office space. Here are three steps to get you started:

  • Stand up for phone calls. When the phone rings, get up to answer. Take a few steps and do a few calf stretches or slow, controlled squats and toe-touches while you finish the conversation.

Get off Your Butt! DBS Syndrome Is No Joke!

  • Invest in wellness. If your job requires a truly great amount of computer use or paperwork, it may be time to look into a new standing, walking, or sit/stand convertible desk. I’ve heard so many wonderful reports from patients and clients whose wellness took a drastic upward turn after making this one, simple change. For a desk-bound professional, the possibility is well worth considering.
  • Use a timer for computer work, and stand for a stretch break every time it rings. Better yet, when you hear the signal, walk away from the computer area. Grab a glass of water or walk down the hall to “freshen up” before reclaiming your seat in front of the screen. Bonus, times three: Frequent breaks from the computer ward off DBS, but they can also relieve eyestrain and prevent headaches. And those arm, shoulder, and hand problems that can stem from using a mouse? Regularly getting up and using other muscles may keep them at bay as well!

…and evict DBS, too. (It’s an unreasonable roommate.)

End of the workday? Don’t let down your guard against DBS once you’ve reached the haven of home. Rest is critical, but too much of the wrong kind of leisure—anything that keeps your body in a relatively fixed position for long stretches of waking time—is a trap.

Here are some ways to keep DBS from haunting you at home without trading in your well-earned time off:

Get off Your Butt! DBS Syndrome Is No Joke!

  1. Remember that exercise is a perfect way to spend down-timeDon’t skip the workout on your day off in the name of “taking it easy.” Instead, recognize your physical fitness routine as the mind-freeing, body-strengthening, emotion-balancing, spirit-renewing gift it is. Caution: Exercising for long periods will not erase the effects of too much sitting at other times. That includes settling in and watching your favorite shows at night. With that in mind…
  2. Let commercials be your literal lifesavers. Sitting on your couch with a remote control invites DBS just as sitting at a desk does. The answer: Love commercials! Use commercials for perfectly timed short movement breaks. Get up, stretch, do gluteal strengthening exercises (think squats, slow and controlled stair steps, or lunges), and get circulation going. Much better idea than heading into the kitchen for more snack food!
  3. …and speaking of the kitchen. Rethink the habit of calling for take-out for your evening meal. Instead, rack up another few dozen steps on your personal pedometer (wink—you have one, right?) by prepping your own meals. Fixing even the simplest foods can require standing, stepping, bending, reaching, lifting, chopping, stirring—all sorts of movements using many different muscle groups. Bonus here, too: Your at-home cuisine is far less likely to be loaded with excess salt, sugar, or saturated fats than those restaurant options.

Once you adopt the determination to sit less, you’ll see results quickly: greater endurance, better posture, fewer everyday aches and pains, and often, a looser waistband, too. Need some help removing the DBS traps from your routine? Please call me at 212-686-0939. I’d love to help you move more throughout your day so you can reclaim the confident, luxurious life you deserve!


  • Roberta Mittman

    A dedicated alternative health care practitioner, health and wellness coach, speaker, author, and licensed acupuncturist, Roberta Mittman is the founder of the Park Avenue Center for Wellbeing. She serves the New York City area as well as those from around the world who connect with her for guidance to reach healthy, happy, and richly rewarding lives. Roberta specializes in guiding women over 40 to quickly and elegantly feel and look trim and vital so they have more time and energy to spend finding happiness, love, and abundance. Her magic: the perfect, holistic blend of East and West. A self-proclaimed chocolate enthusiast, she’s also the author of Ultimate Wellness: The 3 Mental Shifts You Can Use to Change the Course of Your Health Right Now. Visit her web site:

1 Response

  1. Joan pagano says:

    Great article – who knew DBS existed? and yet it makes perfect sense. Thanks for urging action to avoid it with practical tips. Love how you frame one’s “physical fitness routine as the mind-freeing, body-strengthening, emotion-balancing, spirit-renewing gift it is.” I’m a believer!

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