Saddle soreness can be one of the most uncomfortable injuries imaginable, making it difficult for cyclists to sit or move without suffering a lot of pain.
The frustrating thing about it is that it’s also preventable, and there are many ways to avoid saddle soreness or severely diminish its effect on you, whether you’re an avid cyclist or a beginner who is worried about the discomfort saddle soreness can cause.
Why does cycling hurt my bum?
The key to preventing any injury is to understand why it’s happening.
Some people still suffer from a sore bottom even when they’ve tried changing things, and this is most likely because there are multiple reasons why they’re suffering from saddle soreness, and several ways to reduce the effects of it.
The first thing we’re going to look at is something that’s often overlooked by cyclists, both new and experienced.
A lot of people don’t know that their saddle width will have a huge impact on how comfortable they are when cycling, and how likely they are to suffer soreness during or after cycling.
The reason saddles come in many different widths is because they are actually designed to fit you, they are not a one size fits all piece of kit.
Measuring your sit bones, and finding a saddle that’s rated for your particular size is crucial and one of the most overlooked solutions to this problem.
Besides the width of your saddle, the shape of it and the firmness of it can also have an impact on this.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know what works best for you until a few miles in the saddle, but finding a saddle that’s comfortable will make your whole experience that much more enjoyable, and will go a long way to preventing soreness and damage.
Seat Height and Riding Position
This will be different for every rider, their bike, and the type of cycling you’re doing, so it’s hard to give concrete advice on what will work best for you.
But the height of your seat and your riding position can definitely cause saddle soreness, so if you’re having issues try tinkering with your setup and your technique to try and find ways to alleviate your pain and make things more comfortable.
Sometimes simply lowering the seat by a small amount can make a huge difference, so definitely give this a try. Gradually you’ll learn what works best for you, it may take some time, however.
Another major cause of saddle soreness can be the friction of your sensitive groin tissue being subjected to a lot of friction that it isn’t used to dealing with.
This can be caused by rough material chafing your skin or even your saddle rubbing your sit bones uncomfortably, as mentioned above.
It’s worth noting that sometimes cycling can exacerbate preexisting conditions that you may or may not be aware of, so if you’re suffering from a particularly painful ache it may be best to see consult a doctor for advice, particularly if you’re new to cycling or have been cycling for a long time but have only recently experienced saddle soreness.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to prevent or reduce saddle soreness and aching after a long day in the saddle.
A properly fitted set of bike shorts can massively reduce the friction your groin and thighs experience while cycling.
They are made to reduce friction, support your muscles and even help wick moisture and heat away from your skin to help keep you cool and dry as you cycle.
Many bike shorts also come with padded inserts around the groin and seat to help cushion your sit bones from some of the friction and vibrations cycling can cause to these sensitive parts of your body.
Always make sure to get a pair of shorts that fit properly, regardless of whether they use padded inserts or not, and wash them after every use to prevent the build-up of bacteria that can add to your problems.
Another solution to help reduce friction and protect your skin is to use chamois cream.
There are many different creams and brands available that are designed specifically for cycling, and help reduce chafing and also have antibacterial properties to reduce agitation in those particularly sweaty areas.
This is another preventative measure that even some experienced cyclists aren’t aware of.
As soon as you’re back to base, whether you’re returning home from work or heading back to your campsite, it’s crucially important that you wash your body as soon as possible.
This has many benefits, first and foremost it can help to ease aches and pains, warming and cooling skin as required, and removing debris and sweat.
You may be exhausted, and simply want to take some time to rest and have dinner or relax, but getting clean as soon as possible prevents bacteria from building up the hot and sweaty parts of your body such as your groin and seat.
Not taking this step can massively increase the soreness you feel, and also cause other issues such as spots and skin damage in bad cases.
Does saddle soreness go away?
If you’re suffering from saddle soreness the good news is that it will eventually go away with some rest.
Light saddle soreness can ease and disappear in a few days, providing you don’t ride your bike again during this rest period.
More severe saddle soreness can take weeks to heal if the skin is broken or if the damage is particularly bad.
Keeping your wounds clean and moisturizing a little can also help ease the recovery.
If you’re in agony, a warm bath can help ease the aching and help relax your muscles to prevent spasms and discomfort.
The good news is that eventually if you continue cycling over a good period of time, your body will become used to cycling and adapt to the strain it puts on your bum and groin.
Some people develop calluses, which can massively reduce pain, while the muscles and tissue become accustomed to the feel of riding.
Taking the steps we listed above can also help reduce and prevent discomfort, even for experienced riders.
Does your bum get used to cycling?
Yes, eventually your bum will get used to cycling, and you can speed this process up by taking the steps listed above.
A properly fitted seat is particularly important and will help you to prevent aches in the short term and add comfort in the long term.
What helps a sore bum from cycling?
If you have a sore bum applying Sudocrem or other antiseptic creams can help to reduce the chances of the soreness becoming infected or worse.
Some people like to use Germolene due to its mild numbing properties, however, take care to only use medical creams in the appropriate and recommended ways.
Deep Heat and Neosporin can help with muscular pains that result from saddle soreness but use them very carefully and avoid applying them anywhere that they shouldn’t be used.
Always read the labels for treatments such as these and stick to their instructions closely.