Knee issues? Looking higher might solve the problem

Knee issues? Looking higher might solve the problem
Physical therapist Chris Kolba says knee issues can be caused by weakness in the glutes. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - If you are having knee issues, you might want to consider your "behind" to blame.

A condition called "dormant butt syndrome" is getting a lot of attention. It's about lack of strength in that posterior part leading to serious knee injuries, even among the most fit people. In fact, the belief is if more people knew how to work those behinds a little harder, there'd be a lot fewer knee surgeries.

It looks like Columbus area runner Jennifer Ernst is learning the hard way. Pain developing in her right knee while training for a half marathon turned out to be a wake-up call.

"I continued to run, thinking that it would just go away," Ernst said. "But then eventually the pain got so severe that I couldn't run. It was a stabbing pain in my knee."

An MRI showed a tear in her meniscus, calling for surgery. Her physical therapist believes the problem actually started a bit higher on her body with dormant butt syndrome.

"It basically refers to the gluteus maximus or the glute muscles just not functioning as efficiently as they should," Chris Kolba, physical therapist with OSU's Wexner Medical Center said.

He came up with the term "dormant butt syndrome" and believes it's to blame for a lot of knee, hip and back pain. He explains when glute muscles aren't strong enough, the muscles and joints around them absorb more strain, causing damage.

It doesn't just come from exercise though. Kolba says sitting too much can cause dormant butt syndrome, and so can sleeping in the fetal position. There are ways, however, to prevent it.

"Stretching your front of your thigh, stretching your hip flexor, and then doing some exercises to specifically activate the glutes and the lateral hips as well," he said.

He added he knows changing the way you sleep isn't easy, but if your job requires you to sit most of the day, take frequent walk breaks -- or get a stand-up desk. You should also do exercises either at home or at the gym to strengthen your glutes.

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