Which I had flying home from Istanbul, having started the day in Rome:
If you sit at a desk all day, you may experience vague discomfort and pain where you sit. Doctors may call this lower cross syndrome, gluteal amnesia or gluteus medius tendinosis.
But another term is more memorable: “dead butt” syndrome.
“When I call it ‘dead butt’ syndrome, patients grasp the concept right away,” says chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC. “I didn’t coin the phrase, but I like to use it.”
In this syndrome, muscle tightness and weakness combine to create an imbalance. Constant sitting weakens the gluteus medius, one of the three primary muscles in the buttock. It also tightens the hip flexors.
The job of the gluteus medius is to stabilize your hips and pelvis. When it’s weak and can’t function properly, you may experience varying levels of hip and lower back pain when you sit and sometimes when you move.
“Muscle weakness can also compress, pull or pinch the nerves, leading to the numbness related to dead butt syndrome,” says Dr. Bang.
Following the example of Pope Francis, who opened a shower room and laundry facility for the homeless in Rome three years ago, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago unveiled similar services inside its downtown headquarters Monday.
Services also include access to a clothing donation closet and a variety of social services. The agency also will continue to serve meals to the homeless five days a week out of a renovated and upgraded kitchen.
“Our guests will have comfort of a warm shower, toiletries, bedding, clothing,” said Monsignor Michael Boland, president of Catholic Charities. “These small mercies which most of us take for granted can help preserve health and restore hope to those who live at the margins of society. They can be a first step toward a life of self-sufficiency.”
For more than 17 years, Catholic Charities’ headquarters has been home to an evening supper program that serves sit-down dinners and to-go meals to more than 250 individuals and families five days a week.
Guests who come for a meal on Tuesday night have a chance to sign up for a 30-minute shower slot between 10 a.m. and noon the following day. Each shower client receives a towel, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a razor, shaving cream, deodorant and a change of clothes. They also will be able to use the laundry services to wash and dry their clothes and bedding.
Up and running for the past two weeks, showers have been booked solid with a waiting list each Wednesday. The agency hopes to expand the program to more hours and days, but that capacity depends on volunteers.
The program at Catholic Charities is modeled after a similar ministry on Tuesday afternoons at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue. Unlike shelters, both ministries offer bathing opportunities to clients who don’t live there.