SADDLE SORES, they hurt when riding.

Have you had SADDLE SORES from bike riding?

If you are sore down below when you ride your bike, you need to read this.

Saddle soreness is a term used to refer to soreness to the perineum region or crutch as its known (the area between genital region and anus) where your body meets the bike. Problems can arise as will be discussed below, But most saddle soreness problems can be rectified.
Causes of saddle soreness;
• poor bike fit,
• wrong saddle,
• The need for better bike shorts or in some cases, the need to get a pair of bike shorts,
• Rain and humidity can be contributing factors
• some riders are wearing under pants beneath their bike shorts.
Seated position; We should be sitting on our “SIT BONES’ when we are in the saddle riding. In other words the two points of contact between the body and your saddle when in the seated riding position. The soft tissue coverage of these two points can become painful while riding particularly when your new to cycling, so will take time to adjust to the added pressure.
the perineum (also known as the crutch), is soft tissue. It was not designed to withstand compressive stresses or sheering forces. Injuries such as a swollen labia in extreme cases are one example. You may experience a feeling of urinary frequency, feeling of bladder pressure and/or burning sensation, and even genital numbness are some symptoms experienced more so by women. One of the more common occurrences though is simply friction type injuries to this region.
Treatment; bike fit- your weight should be on your sit bones, but may be resting on the perineum and genital area instead. Are your handlebars too low or too far from your saddle? If they are, you will be reaching forward forcing your body to rest on the soft tissue of the perineum which can cause numbness and pain.
Saddle position and type of saddle are important- If the nose of your saddle is tilted upwards, it may press into your crutch. In an article by Helen Pidd on ‘saddle soreness in women cyclists’, It has been suggested that we lower the front of your saddle a fraction. Here phil burt (British Cycling Head Physiotherapist) suggest “we start with a new saddle in neutral position and then lower the front ever so slightly after a good ride if it doesn’t feel right.” If you are suffering form genital numbness this may give you some relief. It can however also cause you to slide forward which is going to result in an irritating rub down below and greater pressure on the perineum. I have however suggested not lowering the front of your saddle in another article, as it can have counter-productive effects elsewhere in your body but the article by Helen Pidd did suggest only lowering the front slightly. Its your call.
If your saddle is too high, you may experience a see saw effect .ie; your hips will rock from side to side as your legs reach for the bottom of the stroke while riding. Your crutch is being sheered across your seat, so you need to Lower your seat.
saddles- No one saddle works for everyone. What is a comfortable seat for one rider can be discomfort for the next. The best way to get the right saddle is to try a few, but this is easier said than done sometimes. You have to find a shop who will allow you to try a few saddles before you buy. I prefer a saddle with a recessed middle or cut away as I feel this is kinder on the genital area as there is less pressure in that region while riding. It was once believed that women required a wider saddle, but if it is too wide it can chaff the inner thighs on a longer ride. Just be aware that larger ladies don’t necessarily need bigger saddles. It’s the distance between ‘sit bones’ that helps you find the right model. labial numbness can develop In women also. there is a suggestion of a saddle called “ISM ADAMOS’, originally marketed for men, but several female Olympic cyclists swear by them. they have a recessed middle but are truncated at the front end. (Do a google search and have a look.) Apparently these saddles also help as the two arms flex and rotate with the rider as they peddle. I have never tried one so cannot comment but sound good in theory. They are quite different.

Chaffing; if the crutch becomes painful during riding, friction may have caused chaffing. A cyclist can easily count 100 pedal stokes in a minute thus the high potential for friction burns. Chaffing can result in a stinging or burning sensation, so it is not comfortable while riding. In fact until you deal with the problem, you may be off the bike for a while.
Occasionally pustules may develop also in your groin . These are pockets of bacterial infection. When riding we create the perfect environment for bacteria and fungal infections. Its warm, sweaty and if there is enough friction, the skin can be broken allowing for infiltration by bacterial organisms creating infections. Again, very painful while riding.

Clothing issues; Crotch irritation can be caused by failure to wear cycling shorts that are well constructed with a pad that is designed to relieve pressure in all the right places, reduce abrasion and friction. Sophisticated fabrics limit friction, and materials disperse moisture so keep you dry while riding. some new riders wear under pants beneath their cycling shorts. This will cause more abrasion, rash and pain. This also defeats all the good features of your cycling shorts. Some riders don’t even wear cycling shorts. If you are going to start to increase how long and how often you ride, you will come to realise that you do need a comfortable pair of cycling shorts. Pain will be the incentive. The right chamois is the key to a good pair of knicks(cycling shorts). According to Wikipedia ,The chamois ‘is a protective insert that is applied in cycling shorts with the main purpose of protecting the groin from the friction of constant and prolonged saddle contact.’
If your looking at buying a pair of cycling shorts, Look at the differences between the cheaper and more expensive ones. Mind you, the most expensive bike shorts aren’t necessarily the best. Talk to other riders. I personally are a fan of “Sugoi”. I haven’t had problems with them ever but they aren’t the cheapest cycling shorts either.

The more advanced chamois(cycling pad) are quite often layered so have different densities within the foam to alleviate the pressure points where you sit. By moving moisture away from this area, they also assist in minimising friction burns and seem to have antibacterial advantages, thus less saddle sores. Some of the more expensive shorts may also have ‘silver’ impregnated into the chamois. Silver is a natural antibacterial. Bacteria do not survive well where silver is present.Some cheaper riding shorts may be perfectly fine for short rides, but if you intend to start increasing the kilometres, you may find they let you down.

If you have developed friction rashes it will be painful to ride and even walk some times. Remember that Wounds heal fastest in a moist environment (by that, I don’t mean a sweaty environment).{My own personal solution? I find that after a shower Applying a liberal amount of Vaseline to the groin region, particularly where it is painful before i go to bed, I feel a lot of relief by morning.} If an area is infected,i.e., pustules / boils have developed, you will need more than Vaseline. If Pustules have developed you may need  medical intervention such as antibiotics. These can keep you off the bike due to pain.
Saddle creams; aren’t used near as often as they once were as cycling shorts technology has come a long way since then, and arguably could eliminate the need for any creams eventually. But saddle creams can be used as anti bacterial preventative measures. This decreases inflammation to these area, and they act as a lubricant which reducing friction, the main cause of chafing and soreness, or after a ride to soothe and help heal any discomfort. The cream works by creating an anti friction barrier between skin and chamois pad, preventing chaffing and bacterial build up, keeping you comfortable and making your ride that much more enjoyable. They often have antibacterial components in these creams also.

There have been some technological advances in cycling shorts and chamois design, and bike saddles have improved also but if you are in the saddle long enough there is always the potential for sensitive injuries. Our aim here today is simply to find peace in the saddle. If it hurts when you ride you will be less inclined to want to ride again tomorrow. I realise that some of what is discussed here today refers to sensitive parts of our anatomy, but if that is where the cyclist has the issue, that is what must be discussed to find a solution. I do hope I haven’t offended.
Enjoy your ride. 

Comment (1)

  1. Helen says:

    thank you so much. Feedback is always welcome but positive feedback always makes it worth while. Negative feedback does let me know my flaws, so is still good. 🙂

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