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butt clenching

Butt Clenching: Understanding the Causes and Solutions

In my interview at PopSugar, writer Gabrielle Kassel asked, "Are You a Butt Clencher?", and she contacted me about the topic's relation to pelvic health. Here is an overview of the subject along with solutions to improve the condition, with a link to the full article below.
- Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

As a physical therapist specializing in pelvic-floor physical therapy, it is crucial to address the issue of butt clenching, which can lead to various musculature issues and discomfort.

In this article, we will explore the different types of butt clenching, the reasons behind its occurrence, and effective strategies to overcome this habit.

Butt clenching refers to two distinct pelvic-floor positions known as "the true clench" and "butt tucking." The true clench involves an overly contracted state of the glute muscles, while butt tucking refers to a posterior pelvic tilt.

"Having a pelvic tilt can contribute to the weakness of deep core muscles, causing other muscle groups like the glutes to overly engage to do the job.” - Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

These positions often occur simultaneously and can lead to a range of physical symptoms. Butt clenching is commonly caused by prolonged standing or sitting positions, incorrect exercise techniques, and as a protective response to trauma. It can result in back pain, urinary urgency, constipation, and painful penetration. However, butt clenching can be addressed through increased awareness, posture correction, warm-up exercises, yoga, and targeted attention to the glute muscles.

Causes of Butt Clenching

Prolonged standing or sitting positions: Individuals who spend long hours in static positions may develop a posterior pelvic tilt or a slumped-over posture. An example I mention in the article is when one’s core muscles are fatigued, they can begin to sit with their back rolled back toward their tailbone. Repetition of these positions leads to butt clenching.

Incorrect exercise techniques: Athletes who engage their core excessively during workouts may inadvertently clench their glute muscles, resulting in butt clenching.

Trauma response: In the article, I mention:

People can also begin butt clenching as a protective response to physical or emotional trauma.” Survivors of abuse or individuals who recently gave birth may exhibit butt clenching as a protective response to physical or emotional trauma. 

Negative Effects of Butt Clenching

Muscular issues: Butt clenching can cause an overactive pelvic floor, leading to back pain, anterior hip or groin pain, and an increased risk of urinary urgency and frequency.

Altered movement patterns: Butt clenching can shorten the glute muscles and affect movement during activities such as sitting, walking, running, and hinging.

Identifying Butt Clenching

Self-assessment: Observing one's posture from the side, checking for lower back curvature, locked knees and hips, and squeezing in the glutes can indicate butt clenching.

Clothing fit: Wrinkles or creases below the buttocks in non-workout attire may suggest butt clenching.

Strategies to Overcome Butt Clenching

"The first step to stop butt clenching is to increase your awareness of tension in this area. Even though it's occurring subconsciously, once you are made aware, you can take steps to change it to reduce your pain and improve your daily and sexual function." - Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

Consult a pelvic floor physical therapist: Working with a professional can help assess individual movement patterns, musculature, and symptoms to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Correct posture: Seeking guidance from a physical therapist specializing in postural alignment can improve standing posture, increase body awareness, and enhance hamstring and glute flexibility.

Warm-up exercises: Prioritize dynamic warm-up routines that activate and stretch the glutes, hamstrings, and hips before engaging in physical activity.

Yoga practice: Under the guidance of an experienced instructor, yoga can help reverse the effects of butt clenching by focusing on proper alignment and avoiding compensatory movements.

Mindful attention: Regularly bringing attention to the glute muscles and consciously releasing tension through specific exercises can help unlearn the habit of butt clenching.

Conclusion

Butt clenching, whether due to prolonged standing or sitting, incorrect exercise techniques, or trauma response, can lead to various musculoskeletal issues and discomfort. However, with increased awareness, posture correction, warm-up exercises, yoga, and targeted attention to the glute muscles, individuals can overcome this habit and alleviate associated symptoms. By working with pelvic-floor therapists and implementing the suggested strategies, individuals can improve their daily and sexual function while reducing pain and discomfort caused by butt clenching.

Our highly trained and caring group of pelvic health physical therapists at Femina Physical Therapy can help you on your journey to improve and strengthen these muscles - tailoring an exercise routine specific to your needs. Our therapists also assess your body as a whole and take into account other injuries or pain you may have to integrate into your routine. Connect with us today and initiate this empowering conversation!

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Testimonial by M.N., age 28

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

I was diagnosed with vaginismus 4 years ago. I never heard of such medical condition until after I got married. At first my husband and I didn't know what to do, we didn't know what the issues were or how to overcome it. Being born and raised in Armenia and being Christian I wasn't that open about talking to sex with others and so it wasn't easy to seek help. But eventually I went to an Ob-Gyn and luckily she knew about the medical condition (not many doctors know). She referred me to a physical therapist and I couldn't believe it and thought it's something I can handle myself. I ordered a kit from vaginismus.com and started practicing with dilators. There was some small progress but wasn't much helpful.

Read more: Testimonial by M.N., age 28

Testimonial by Ann V.

I wish i could give this place 10 stars!! 
I have been suffering from vaginismus for 5 years and never found the cure to it. I had seen an ob/gyn and he diagnosed me with vaginismus and told me i needed a surgery to cure my condition, which i refused to do. He also referred me to a PT that he works with, i had given them multiple calls and they never responded back to me, so i started searching yelp for another PT. I am SO HAPPY I found Heather's office! I was working with Laureen, and with her guidance and techniques i was able to be cured from vaginismus in only 2 1/2 short months!!! I couldn't believe how quickly their program worked for me! I am forever grateful and thankful from Heather, and Laureen! They are the absolute best at what they do!

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Testimonial by S.P., Age 26

I would like to start off by thanking Heather Jeffcoat for educating me and curing me of Vaginismus. I had been married for almost three years before I was referred to Heather. I never knew about Vaginismus until almost three years into my marriage. I knew something was wrong when I went on my honeymoon and came back a Virgin. I had always imagined how magical my first night would be but boy was I wrong.

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Testimonial by Carolina J.

I had tried Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy before (with another PT) and I had a really bad (painful) experience. A friend of mine and fellow patient, told me about Heather, Laureen and Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) and I decided to try again. I am so happy I did! Femina PT have, literally, changed my life. I was able to do again things I couldn't do for over 10 years!! Their bedside manners are impeccable, their knowledge and understanding make me feel comfortable to recommend this place to anyone in pain. Specially if you have Endometriosis. 100% recommended!!

-- Carolina J., 12/28/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by T.H.

I started seeing Heather in October 2014. For more than two years, I had been suffering from painful urinary tract infection type symptoms after my bartholins gland surgery which included constant burning and urinary frequency sensation that led to more and more painful intercourse. I had made multiple visits to internist, obgyn and urologist's offices, went through a range of treatment with UTI and bladder frequency medication that included antibiotics, vesicare, estrogen cream, but nothing worked.

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Testimonial by P.M.

I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

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