Whether you're an indoor cycling devotee or just occasionally hop on the stationary bike, you may have experienced the pain of an unforgiving saddle at some point. Discomfort in your groin, including numbness, tingling or chaffing, is a surefire way to take the fun out of any workout. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to alleviate and minimize saddle-related pain so you can keep on pedaling
An easy way to reduce saddle discomfort is to wear bike shorts. No, they aren't exactly flattering, but they will sweeten your saddle time. Bike shorts have thick padding, called a chamois, sewn into the crotch. This provides a layer of cushioning between you and an uncomfortable saddle. Look for a chamois that is moisture-wicking with minimal stitching. Bike shorts are designed to be worn without underwear, so skip the skivvies.
Chamois Cream and Hygiene
If you experience friction-related pain, even with bike shorts, try a chamois cream. These are lubricating creams designed to minimize chafing that occurs from pressure, friction and sweat. With or without chamois cream, make sure you don't wear a pair of bike shorts without washing them between workouts. Often, redness and friction can be worsened by bacteria. It isn't pretty, but the chamois in a pair of bike shorts can become a petri dish after a sweaty ride. If you opt for chamois cream, wash your hands thoroughly before application.
The position of your seat can also be a major source of pain. If the saddle is too high, you will rock your hips and place unnecessary pressure on your crotch during each downstroke. If the nose of the saddle is tilted too far up, too much pressure may be placed on sensitive soft tissues. If the saddle is too far back or forward, your weight will not be properly distributed on your sit bones. If you're not sure of how to properly adjust a stationary bike, ask a fitness professional for help.
Beware of Saddle Sores
It may be an awkward subject to bring up, but saddle pain shouldn't be taken lightly. If you continue to ride through discomfort, you can develop painful saddle sores. These are usually small sores at the site of excessive pressure or friction that can make it too painful to continue riding. Worse yet, if they are left untreated, they can develop into nasty bacterial infections. Pay attention to saddle pain and take the necessary steps to alleviate it.
- Every Woman's Guide to Cycling; Selene Yeager
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.