In this post we present our top 10 tips to avoid a sore butt when cycling. If you have ever experienced cycling-induced saddle soreness, you know it can make cycling unbearable. Not only that, but many cyclists worry about doing permanent damage to their bodies. This post will help you to avoid discomfort and damage to your body.
Genital Problems from Cycling
Men worry about cycling butt pain causing a numb penis, erectile dysfunction, and even prostate cancer. And although it gets a lot less media coverage, women cyclists can experience genital numbness, urinary problems, and swollen labia after many hours in the saddle (Source: The Guardian).
Nobody likes to have any kind of genital-area numbness or pain, or risk permanently damaging the very valuable nerves in that area. The nerves in the perineum are especially vulnerable to damage from hours of pressure in your bike saddle.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Never fear – these tips will help you to prevent such problems. First, here is a video that presents 10 useful tips to avoid a sore butt when cycling. Following that, we explain each point in more detail.
Video Showing Top 10 Tips to Avoid a Sore Butt when Cycling
Tip #1: Wear Bike Shorts to Avoid a Sore Butt
It is essential to buy good quality, well-fitting bike shorts that have a chamois, or a gel liner. And if you do multi-day rides, you will need at least two pairs. This is so that you have a clean and dry pair at all times.
The pad may just be foam chamois, or it may be gel. Thicknesses vary widely. The basic idea is that the chamois will reduce the pressure between your ischium bone (your sit bones) and your saddle. The padding is designed in a gender-specific way, for obvious reasons.
These Terry bike shorts are very highly rated, affordable, and come with foam padding. Terry specializes in women’s cycling wear, and makes a range of foam chamois pads. They offer an unconditional warranty on their shorts, which is unusual.
These very highly rated Sponeed men’s cycling shorts are made with form-fitting polyester, spandex, and lycra, and have grips to stop them riding up. The idea is that if the shorts don’t move, they won’t chafe you. The padding is gel, molded to male anatomy.
Tip #2: Leave Your Underwear at Home
Do not wear underwear under cycling shorts. Underwear decreases the effectiveness of your chamois. Also, your underwear may move and cause chafing. Plus it may get damp and make matters even worse.
Tip #3: Keep Your Shorts Clean
Wash your cycling shorts after every bike ride and dry them completely before re-using. If possible, air dry your shorts rather than tumble-drying. This way, they will last a lot longer and remain 100% protective longer.
Tip #4: Slather on the Chamois Cream
If you start to get hot spots, grab some chamois cream. It is your choice as to whether to put it on the chamois of your skin. I find it better to apply directly to places that are feeling irritated. It’s a whole lot less messy than coating the entire pad. You can even apply chamois cream beforehand to areas that you know are prone to irritation. Prevention is always better than cure.
Tip #5: Stay Dry
Moisture weakens your skin and increases the chance of irritation. If there is no way to stay dry, apply chamois cream before cycling. Also, make sure you have good, wrap-around fenders on your bike, so you do not have puddle water splashing up onto your shorts.
Tip #6: Get the Right Saddle
It is essential to have a great saddle. When fitting your saddle, make sure it is either dead straight, or angled just a degree or two down in the front. It’s a good idea to start with it dead straight. If that doesn’t work for you, try tilting it down in front, just a tiny bit at a time.
Also make sure that your handlebars are not lower than your saddle – crouching forward at an angle is obviously not kind to your groin area!
See our post about 9 of the best road bike saddles. It contains tons of information and videos to help you figure out which saddle would be right for your specific cycling needs. It also goes behind the scenes to show you all the care that goes into making a really great bike saddle.
Related Post: How to Choose and Fit the Right Bike Saddle
Related Post: 9 of the Best Road Bike Saddles
Tip #7: Make Sure Your Bike Fits Your Body
It is essential to ensure that your bike is fitted just right for you. Otherwise, excessive pelvis movement can cause extra irritation and pain. Either pay for a professional fitting (which is usually pretty expensive), or get this book that will help you to fit your bike correctly for you.
Tip #8: Take Breaks from the Saddle
Take periodic breaks to rest your butt and stretch your legs. Take the opportunity to do some stretching. Dry yourself off if necessary, and apply chamois cream if necessary (you might need to find a washroom for this!). Unfortunately, if you are doing a bike race, breaks are unlikely. In that case, see Tip #9.
Tip #9: Train your Butt
Time in the saddle will get your butt ready for more time in the saddle. No matter how fit you are, don’t ever take off on a long-distance ride when you have not been on a bike for weeks. Your body may be fit, but your butt will not be ready. The next day will inevitably be memorable for the fact that it is hard to sit down, especially on a bike saddle!
Tip #10: Keep it Clean
If you do develop saddle sores, make sure to clean the area well and often. If bacteria gets into the open skin, it could get infected. You could use an antibiotic cream to help with healing. Alternatively, try this Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream product, which will bring a lot of relief to severely irritated skin. It’s also good for dry and cracked feet.
Another product that is very soothing for irritated skin is cortisone cream. In extreme cases, I have found this brings almost immediate relief. At worst, you should find that if you apply it liberally before bed, everything is much, much happier by morning. Make sure you are wearing absorbent underwear and PJs, or your bed sheets could look embarrassingly messy by morning.
Even if you don’t have saddle sores, you should always shower and clean your entire groin area very thoroughly straight after a bike ride. Then, make sure you are completely dry before putting on clean, dry underwear.
Bottom Line on How to Avoid a Sore Butt from Cycling
We trust these ten tips will help you to avoid getting a sore butt, saddle sores, or any more serious problems when cycling. For even more in-depth information, see these very detailed and informative posts.
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