Saddle Issues - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I do talk to a lot of people about their saddle issues on a daily basis. So many, that maybe someday I’ll get an honorary doctorate from some esteemed medical institution! Seriously though, I do hear a lot of stories about saddle pain which is all too common if you spend a lot of time on your bike.
Pelvic pain is a condition which includes genital numbness, aching in the pelvic region, increased urinary frequency and even impotence. Numb genitals, sore sit bones, aching in the pelvic region, increased saddle sores and even back pain can be a big deterrent to riding as much as you want. You’d think that with all the technology out there that it would be easy to find a saddle which doesn’t cause you pain ten minutes into your ride. The truth of the matter is though that people and products are so different and there are so many opinions on what makes for a great fit that it can be hard to sort through the pile and choose the correct saddle.
I hear stories from people all the time about how they’ve tried literally ten different saddles and still haven’t found one that doesn’t cause them pain. Or, how a visit to the doctor came with a strong recommendation not to ride their bike or risk permanent damage. For many of these people, not riding is just not an option for them since it so entwined in their life and often one of their only outlets for stress from their job and the world. The problem is that even with all of our collective technology, advanced engineering and years of product development, many people still choose a saddle based on trial and error, slick marketing, weight and looks.
So, we’re going to start at the beginning and try and blow the lid off this thing and start a discussion about what the issues are and how they can be fixed.
Numbness in the genitals...
is typically caused when there is pressure on the nerves in the perineum area. This pressure can be caused by several things including a flat or domed shell shape, improperly placed cutout or channel, overly soft padding or even improper saddle adjustment such as the nose being too high. Part of the solution is to find a saddle which properly fits and supports the sit bones and has a cutout, channel or step down such as the SQlab Step design which takes pressure off the perineum. Even saddles which are wide enough to support the sit bones might not work though if they are overly padded and/or have a domed shape. The problem with saddles that are too soft is that your sitbones sink down into the padding and your perineum then contacts the raised middle section of the saddle. This is a common issue which we see a lot and is a result of poor saddle design.
Sit bone pain or soreness...
is usually caused by a saddle shell which is too stiff, hard padding or an improperly sized saddle. Grinding your sit bones against a hard rigid object hurts, especially if you have misalignment in your pelvis which exacerbates the problem. Misalignment in the pelvis also causes an unbalanced pedal stroke which can cause one sit bone to push into the saddle shell harder than the other one. There are a couple things which can help alleviate the pressure on the sit bones such as picking saddle with a more flexible shell like the SQlab Active System or more padding.
are often caused by an improperly sized saddle which is too narrow or domed shaped which causes the sit bones to contact the saddle shell at an angle or to chafe against the edge of the saddle shell. A properly fit saddle will fully support the sit bones while minimizing chafing in other areas.
Lower back, Pelvic and joint pain...
Pelvic misalignment often causes pressure on the sit bones, leg joints and spinal column and can cause all sorts of issues including lower back pain while riding. Proper fit and alignment helps to alleviate these issues but it’s often not possible to completely align the body when riding. That’s where the SQlab active system comes in to play by helping to align the pedaling forces and even absorbing small impacts.
In the end, finding the correct saddle can be like finding a needle in a haystack (or maybe that’s killer single track in new place!) but if you enter the search with a little knowledge about the potential issues and how to alleviate them it can be like a nice ride in the park on a sunny day!
#SQlab #ErgonomicSaddle #SaddleFitKit #SaddleFitting