Let's be honest, you probably don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about your butt unless there's a specific reason to. But (no pun intended), there are some surprising and helpful facts about your butt you should know, even if you don't go out of your way to think about your butt every day.
Your butt (or glutes, especially for the fitness-conscious among you) is made up of three distinct muscles that come together to form your backside: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. Easy enough, right? The three major gluteal muscles are layered and overlapping, allowing your butt to power your lower body and making it easier to move in any direction in which you need to go.
Your butt muscles should be exercised just like basically every other skeletal muscle (that's what kind of muscle they are) in your body. And in an interview with Women's Health, Dr. Jordan Metzl, an exercise physician and the author of The Exercise Cure, said that incorporating a workout that targets your butt muscles a couple of times a week is A-OK. Since it's one of the largest muscle groups in your body, the muscles can withstand regular workouts.
Taking care of your butt is important and these nine facts will help reinforce why.
1. If Your Butt's Weak, You Can Hurt Yourself
A strong butt is good for more than just fitting into your pants and taking the stairs. In that same interview for Women's Health, Metzl said that if your butt muscles can't support your movements, your hamstrings, knees, calves, and all the associated ligaments and tendons can be left susceptible to injury. Strong butt means strong body, so make sure you get your squats in.
2. Carrying Fat In Your Butt Could Protect Against Certain Conditions
Fat distribution really does matter when it comes to your risk for certain illnesses and chronic conditions. According to ABC News, a study from researchers at the University of Oxford and Churchill Hospital (U.K.) found that people who carry fat in their butts might be less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity-related conditions. Though you can't really control where your body stores your fat deposits, if you have some fat stored in your lower body, it may not be as concerning as you may have previously thought.
3. Women With Bigger Butts Might Be Smarter
Just skip this one if you have a tiny butt. According to a 2008 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California Santa Barbara, women with bigger butts and hips performed better on cognitive tests than women with smaller butts and hips. Not only that, but their children also had a higher cognitive ability, partially because their mamas' hip and butt fat is high in essential fatty acids like omega-3s, which help with healthy neurodevelopment.
4. Your Butt Helps Keep Your Torso Upright
If you didn't have the butt muscles that you do, you wouldn't be able to stand up straight, run, jump, or kick powerfully. Your gluteus maximus keeps your torso upright as well as helps you run faster and jump higher, as noted by Live Science. Additionally, according to the Library of Congress, it's also the "chief antigravity muscle," which helps you walk up stairs. Your butt does more than you probably even realized.
5. Women Have Bigger Butts Than Men Because Of Estrogen
As most women likely know, hormones can have a significant impact on an awful lot of things, but did you know that hormones dictate fat deposition and distribution as well? According to a 2010 study, women have more fat deposited around their thighs, hips, and butts than men do because estrogen stimulates fat deposition in those areas, while testosterone stimulates fat deposition in other areas of the body. Ultimately, you probably don't have a lot of control over how your hormones tell your fat where it should be stored, but now maybe you have more of an explanation as to why your body shape is the way it is.
6. You Can Get Melanoma On Your Butt Even If It's Not Exposed To Sun
Wait, what? That's right. While you might think that you're doing all that's necessary to try to protect your skin from UV exposure, sun damage, and skin cancer, you can actually get moles on parts of your body that aren't often exposed to the sun. According to the American Cancer Society, atypical moles can appear on regularly-covered places like your butt or scalp in addition to the places that see regular sun exposure like your arms and legs. Atypical moles look somewhat like regular moles, but also have some of the features of melanoma. If you spot what you think might be an atypical mole, make an appointment with your doctor just to be safe.
7. You Can Make Your Butt Bigger With Exercise
While you may not be able to make other parts of your body bigger with exercise, your butt muscles do have the ability to grow, meaning if you exercise them regularly and correctly, you can work to make your butt bigger, if that's something you want to do, according to the aforementioned article from Women's Health. Exercises that focus on the butt will, over time, help make those muscles appear bigger.
8. You Use Your Butt Constantly
In an interview for the previously-mentioned Women's Health article, Metzl said that standing, balancing, and pushing yourself off the ground are all reliant on strong butt muscles. Pretty much any activity that uses your lower body is affected by the strength — or weakness — of those muscles, so take care of them.
9. 'Alcohol Enemas' Are A Thing — And They're Dangerous
This is gross, but it's important: anything that enters your body in enema form immediately enters your bloodstream through your colon. In 2012, news broke of college students using "alcohol enemas" to get drunker quicker. According to CNN, this is extremely dangerous because it can cause your blood alcohol content to shoot up quickly, before you even realize how much alcohol is in your system. Gastroenterologist Dr. Preston Stewart told CNN that the lower GI tract doesn't contain alcohol dehydrogenase, which exists in our upper GI tract to assist in the breakdown of alcohol, which is why things like these "alcohol enemas" are so dangerous — your body can't reject the alcohol, increasing the likelihood that it will cause you harm. Just don't do it, it's not worth it.