Tips for Cyclists Dealing with Saddle Area Pain, Numbness, and Discomfort

Many cyclists experience perineum, otherwise known as saddle area; pain and numbness.  Estimates vary widely with one author reporting anywhere from 31% to 91% of all cyclists being impacted by this issue.  The discomfort is a result of compression of the perineum’s soft tissue which ultimately impact the nerves and blood supply of the area.  Obviously, if the nerve and blood vessels going to the perineum are compressed this can have some very negative consequences for the genitals.  Both men and women experience saddle area pain with some reports estimating women even more effected than men.  Below solutions are discussed.

Body solutions

               -Improve hamstring flexibility

               -Improve pelvis alignment through physical therapy treatment

    -receive pelvic floor muscle soft tissue mobilization or massage

                -Decrease anterior pelvic tilt (forward tilt of the pelvis on the seat)

                -Decrease your body weight

Training practices

                -get out of the saddle more often such as when climbing

                -improve power transfer into the feet to have less saddle pressure

Seats

                -Obtain a grooved seat

                -Obtain a seat without a protruding nose

Bike solutions

                -Decrease your forward reach

                -Decrease aggressiveness of the aero position

                -Lower seat height

At bodyMechanics we are serious about cycling and specialize in working with cyclists.  If you need help with your saddle, positioning or other cycling aliments let us be your solution.

Email Adam for details at . . .  adamlindsey@bmechanics.com

**While the above solutions will be useful for many people, saddle numbness may not be a result of compression from your bicycle seat.  It could be a sign of a serious medical condition where nerves are compressed in the low back.  This will often be accompanied by a lack of bladder control.  If you suspect this, don’t wait.   Seek out your medical care provider immediately.

References:

Bressel E, Larson BJ.  Bicycle seat designs and their effect on pelvic angle, trunk angle, and comfort.  Med Sci Sports Exerc.  2003;35(2);327-32.

Bressel E, Nash D, and Dolny D. Association between attributes of a cyclist and bicycle seat pressure. J Sex Med 2010;7:3424–3433.

Gemery JM, Nangia AK, Manourian AC, Reid SK.  Digital three-dimensional modelling of the male pelvis and bicycle seats:  impact of rider position and seat design on potential penile hypoxia and erectile dysfunction.   BJU Int.  2007;99:135-40

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