Event Essentials: Avoiding Saddle Soreness
Undercarriage pain can make a ride a misery and, if left unattended, can lead to development of actual sores and even more serious conditions.
For consistent training and on multi-day events, such the LONDON-PARIS, taking care of your nether regions should be a top priority for all riders.
When it comes to saddle health, Phil Burt is a world authority. He was Lead Physiotherapist with the Great British Cycling Team through three Olympics and, during that time, prioritised an investigation and open discourse about saddle health, especially with female riders and, because of his work, the UCI changed their ruling on saddle tilt.
Now running his own cycling health and performance consultancy Phil Burt Innovation offers a range of services including cycling specific injury assessment and treatment, bike fit, aero assessment and saddle health assessments. He’s also working with a number of brands developing groundbreaking products.
Here are Phil’s Top 10 Tips for avoiding saddle soreness.
If your position on the bike isn’t correct, you’re immediately on the back foot tackling saddle soreness. Basics such as saddle height, set-back and tilt should all be checked. If you notice that you only tend to get sore on one side, it would be a good idea to check for a leg length discrepancy.
No one saddle suits all. By finding your sit-bone width you can get a starting point but it’s largely a case of trial and error. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that more padding means more comfort, it can often lead to chaffing issues if it makes the saddle too bulky. Once you find a saddle that works for you, stick with it.
Shorts and chamois choice
Like saddles, different shorts and chamois fit different riders. It’s worth paying for decent shorts but a misplaced seam is all that’s necessary to cause issues. Try different brands until you find one that works for you. Fit is also key as you want to minimise movement of the pad while you ride.
Oh, and just in case anyone is considering wearing underwear with their shorts, don’t!
If you’re not already using it, start slathering it on. The slightly squidgy feeling when you first set off takes a bit of getting use to but it makes a huge difference in preventing soreness.
Our undercarriages aren’t evolved to sit on saddles for hours on end and it does take a bit of getting use to. Also, as you get stronger and are putting more pressure through the pedals, there will be less of your weight on your saddle. Follow a progressive training plan and avoid doing too much too soon or big jumps in riding volume.
Standing up regular helps to alleviate pressure and restore blood-flow. Usually when riding outdoors you’ll be standing out of the saddle naturally in response to the terrain but, when riding indoors, you may find it helpful to stand every five minutes for 10-15 seconds.
Shower straight away
Sitting around in sweaty cycling kit is a guaranteed recipe for saddle health issues. Before geeking out over Strava or having a beer, get showered. Use a gentle cleanser, Dermol or similar products are excellent.
Pat dry gently and ideally, post-ride, wear loose fitting clothing to allow good airflow.
Once dry, apply an unscented moisturiser to soothe any inflammation and facilitate skin repair and healing.
Clip don’t shave
If you like to keep down below neat and tidy, use clippers rather than a razor. Hair plays a protective role and shaving can lead to inflammation and infected hair follicles.
Burning thighs and lungs aside, cycling shouldn’t be a painful or uncomfortable experience. If you suffer from numb hands, hot-spots on your feet, back pain or saddle discomfort when you’re riding, chances are something isn’t right with your bike set-up, your body or how they interact.
But not all cyclists can afford a professional bike fit. This accessible manual contains all the information you need to find your perfect cycling position, revealed by one of the world’s leading authorities on bike fit.
This new edition includes brand new material on:
– why almost all cyclists would benefit from shorter cranks
– an in-depth look at saddle health, with special attention and advice for female cyclists
– watt-saving advice for time trialists and triathletes
– how to make indoor cycling more tolerable.
Let Phil Burt guide you through your own Bike Fit, to ensure your bike and body work in harmony.