Sit bone pain

Pain in the sit bones when riding a bike?

At the beginning of the season, pain in the sit bones is a common problem. Sit bones get used to the pressure after five or six rides. The decisive factor for the right choice of saddle is:  

  • The individual saddle width, so that the sit bones are lying completely on top. 
  • The right saddle hardness; if a saddle is too soft, the sit bones sink in and the deeper lying, sensitive tissue such as muscle and tendon attachments are irritated.




The larger the area, the lower the pressure.

This physics law implies an advantage for the SQlab step saddle concept. The area does not - like with other ergonomic saddles - need to be reduced in a contra-productive manner with holes and cut-outs.



Pressure= force/surface area



What is the meaning of this with regards to a bicycle saddle?

Pressure = pain causing magnitude, which should be as small as possible
Force = magnitude determined by body mass and gravitational acceleration
Area = useable surface area of the saddle and cyclist

Causes of painful sitbones 


Saddle too narrow
Saddle too narrow
Saddle with a wrong shape
Saddle with a wrong shape
Saddle too soft
Saddle too soft
Familiarization of the sitbones
Familiarization of the sitbones
Shearing forces
Shearing forces

Saddle to narrow 

Cause - saddle too narrow 

leads to discomfort to the sit bones and an increased pressure on the perineal area

SQlab Solution 

Sit bone measurement to determine the individual saddle width

More performance - less pain 

A saddle should fit like a pair of shoes! If a saddle is too narrow, then it presses exactly in the spots where it shouldn’t. Back in 2002, SQlab was the fi rst saddle manufacturer to introduce a system to measure the distance between the sit bones and to calculate the optimal saddle width. As a result, all SQlab saddle models are available in up to four different widths. 
This guarantees that your sitting bones lie completely flat on the saddle. This is the only way to relieve pressure to the sensitive areas in both men’s and women’s bodies that are aff ected by hard saddles.  >More about the sit bone measurement 

Wrong saddle shape  

Cause - wrong saddle shape 

leads to an increased pressure in the perineal area 

SQlab Solution 

Step Saddle with an optimum pressure distribution in accordance with medical advice

More free space - less pressure!

Persistently high pressure on the perineum expresses less in pain but more in feelings of numbness. However, this alarm signal should always be observed. Even if “deaf” means at first that nothing is felt, so it is not a direct pain that otherwise warns us of dangers for the body.
The pressure on the sit bone can be a little uncomfortable at first – until you get used to it – but it is a sign for the right saddle.  For men who need a little more space, the SQlab step saddle creates more free space and is therefore ideal. >More about the step saddle concept 

Too soft saddle 

Cause - too soft saddle 

leads to sinking sit bones


SQlab Solution 

SQlab saddle models in different saddle firmnesses adapted to riding duration and area of use

A too soft saddle usually becomes very uncomfortable after approx. 30 – 45 minutes on the bike.

The sit bones sink in so far, that sensitive soft tissue such as muscle and tendons are aggravated. After approx. 30 – 40 minutes a dull deep pressing pain sets in.
The sinking in of the sit bones also causes the perineal area in men and the lower positioned pubic bone arch in women to be subjected to higher pressure. Specifically, soft padding will effectively stop the blood flow. It is rare that the padding is so soft that the saddle shell causes the discomfort.
SQlab Solution
Soft saddles are generally only suitable for short distances!

Familiarization of the sitbones

Cause - missing familiarization

periosteum, muscle and tendon approaches react irritably 

SQlab Solution

Regular trips with a saddle model adapted to the individual saddle width and driving characteristics 


The sitbones are capable of getting used to a high pressure load and the discomfort will reduce. At the beginning of the season, or when switching to a new unfamiliar saddle shape, pain and discomfort in the sitbones is normal. Familiarization with a new saddle can take approx. 5 to 6 rides.

At least two days of rest should be scheduled between the initial rides to give the already sensitive muscles and tendons time to respond.

SQlab lists the hardness of the padding material on the saddle. We have developed a measurement unit called SQ Shore, which takes into account the combination of both cover and padding materials.


Shearing forces


Cause - Shearing forces 
These are caused by the mutual load of the pedaling motion.


SQlab Solution

Orthopaedic TPE insert to absorb shear forces

Painful sit bones get used to the strain at first, which is quite normal especially in the spring after a long winter break or during the first test drives on the usually unfamiliar SQlab step saddle. 

The pain originates at the periosteum. The pressure is less the problem, rather it is the shear forces caused by the pedaling motion. The slight but constant movement of the pelvis on the saddle provides painful shearing forces on the periosteum. 

The SQlab active technology provides some relief as well as a chamois cream. The best solution are our new pads: The SQ-Pad 11 and SQ-Pad10. >More about  SQ-Pad concept

The pelvis

When sitting normally, the sitbones support the body‘s weight and have the capability to withstand high pressure. This should also be the case when riding a bicycle. With an athletic riding position, the perineal area of men and the lower positioned pubic bone arch of women on the saddle.

The well branched out network of nerves and blood vessels of the perineal area reaches from the anus via the genitals to the upper pubic bone arch. On the sides it reaches past the pubic bones. 

These are capable of carrying a small weight – but a pressure reduction is essential. An even pressure reduction in the perineal area and the pubic bones is achieved through the lowered nose of our SQlab step saddle concept.

The sitting position

When sitting, the sitbones (areas marked in green) serve the purpose of supporting the body’s weight, hence they can endure a high load and pressure. They should also be utilised in this way when riding a bike.


In a dynamic riding position the contact point moves from the tip of the sitbones, forwards along the pubic arch to the pubic bone and the central perineal area is used for resting on for both genders. Women however, typically have a lower pubic arch which can result in higher pressure from the saddle nose when riding in a dynamic riding position. The surface area the riders weight is resting on is especially critical in a very dynamic and forward riding position and in such a case the riders weight should not only be supported in the centre but also on the pubic bone.


The sitbone and pubic bones both come together from their widest points in a “V” shape. This means the more dynamic the riding position, the narrower the saddle is allowed to, and should be.

Already in 2002 we developed a simple equation which uses the distance of the sitbone tips in dependence of the riding positing to calculate the perfect saddle width. This method has meanwhile been established globally. The method may be interpreted slightly differently from different saddle manufacturers and many leave the adjustment equation away all together, but our basic concept is used in all of these measuring methods.


The flexibility of the spine has much less influence on the positioning of the pelvis as often assumed. Spine and pelvis should remain in a natural position relative to each other and not be forced into a certain position, even if the body is very flexible.


Especially with the SQlab step saddle it is no longer necessary to tilt the pelvis backwards as the typical pressure zone of the perineal area and pelvis arch no longer pose a problem due to the lowered position of the saddle nose. The energy which is often required to hold the pelvis upright while the upper body taks a dynamic and forward position is no longer required with the SQlab step saddle and can instead be used for pedalling and propelling the bike forward. In addition, there is substantially less load on the spinal discs.