When the gluteus medius is weakened - whether through prolonged sitting, or through repetitive motion (e.g. running) in the absence of strengthening exercises - what often results is a condition known as dead butt syndrome. Dead-butt syndrome is inflammation of the gluteus medius muscle due to irritation. A weak muscle is unable to properly perform its function, which in this case is to keep the hip level. The result is pelvic instability, identifiable with the hallmark "sagged" gait, called the Trendelenburg sign in the medical community.
Dead butt syndrome and resulting pelvic tilt can cause a cascade of inflammation and irritation of adjacent muscles, which can lead to other injuries such as iliotibial band strain, plantar fasciitis, lower back pain and shin splints, as well as postural problems, head and neck pain, even discomfort in the seated position. Which is ironic, because prolonged sitting is often part of the problem.
What is the remedy? If you're a runner, cross-training, especially time on the bike, can help to strengthen the butt muscles and maintain postural stability. Hiking or climbing hills also works well. If you're not an endurance athlete and have no wish to become one but feel your glutes could use some strengthening, resistance exercises are great.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out. Sink into your calves until your thighs are about level with the floor, then return to the standing position, tightening the glutes throughout. Do three sets of ten repetitions. Stronger individuals may wish to hold dumbbells or use resistance bands to increase tension.
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the ground, about 12 inches from your buttocks. Thrust the hips into the air, flexing your glutes. Hold for a count of three, and do three sets of ten repetitions.
Begin from a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot about 2 feet in front of you. Bend your right knee, making sure to keep your knee directly over your foot. Sink into the lunge until your left knee touches the floor, then return to standing position. Work up to three sets of ten repetitions.
For runners and non-runners alike, taking the stairs instead of the elevator is an easy way to improve cardiovascular fitness as well as strengthen the glutes.