Bike Saddles And Female Anatomy
Bike Saddles and Female Anatomy
If you are an avid cyclist, then you already know how much time your backside spends on the saddle. Without a properly fitting saddle designed for the female form, those hours can translate into serious discomfort and even saddle sores. Understanding the way the female anatomy including the vulva interacts with the bike saddle will help you understand why this is a common problem.
Us women are often reluctant to share the pain we are experiencing "down there". It can be embarrassing and we sometimes may think we are the only woman experiencing saddle discomfort. The opposite is actually more true. More often than not women are experiencing some level of discomfort when cycling, caused by an improperly fit bike seat.
Consider this women's bike saddle experience from Christine Warren.
Christine is a triathlete who competes in the 70.3 and full IronMan races. During the week she trains up to 17 hours in the saddle and oftentimes does 4-5 hour rides on the weekends. Over the years she tried every different brand and type of women's saddle and came to the conclusion that riding was just painful and that she was always going to be dealing with saddle sores. The sores got to the point where Christine even required a medical procedure to help relieve some of her pain.
Posterior Women's Bicycle Saddle Discomfort
Women often find that their backsides are sore after a long ride. If the women's bike saddle is a leather or plastic model with minimal padding, and it continues to make the butt or perineal vulva area sore after a proper break-in period, then the pain is likely due to a saddle that is the wrong shape for your anatomy, placing pressure on all the wrong areas.
According to Lovely Bicycle, "If it still hurts just the same after a reasonable break-in period, and the pain feels to be the result of pressure on the sit bones, then the saddle may be wrong for your derriere." This often happens because the saddle is too narrow for a woman's sit bones. Also, women tend to cycle a little less forward tilted than a male cyclists, so the bum gets more pressure from the seat.
One commenter found that narrow or wide could both cause problems. She said, "I'm sure there's plenty of ladies with . . . wide sit bones, but this is not always the case. A too-wide saddle is just as uncomfy as a too-narrow one."
Labial or vulva discomfort occurs when the vaginal lips bunch up and press into the saddle on a road bike. A saddle with cutout in the center can help, but it has to be positioned exactly for the woman's individual anatomy, which is almost impossible. Instead, applying chamois cream or even Vaseline to the vaginal area before riding can help reduce chafing the area and prevent painful abrasions from the friction.
Pain is not the only problem women have. One anonymous commenter said, "After an hour or two of cycling, my [genital area is] numb and sore." This type of problem is caused by pressure. Cream will not help with women's bicycle saddle pressure. I recommend tilting the saddle down to take the pressure off, but this may put too much pressure on the arms and hands and create a painful ride. Instead, I recommend experimenting with different saddles until you find one that works with your anatomy and avoids the painful perineal pressure.
If you have already tried multiple saddles and still cannot get comfortable, then I recommend taking a look at BiSaddle. BiSaddle is an adjustable saddle. Meaning you can adjust the shape of BiSaddle to custom fit your body and riding style. And, if your riding style or body shape change, you can simply re-adjust for ultimate comfort.
Hear what Christine Warren experienced after switching to BiSaddle below.
Check out BiSaddle @ www.BiSaddle.com
There are different types of saddle pain. Including Sit Bone Soreness, Chafing and Saddle Sores, Soft Tissue Pain and Pubic Bone Pain.
Pubic Bone Pain
Tilting forward as we ride in a more aggressive or time trial position puts more pressure on the pubic bone, which obviously puts more pressure on the soft tissue. Cyclists who ride in a time trial position often may benefit from a spilt nose, channel or cutout relief saddle.
Chafing and Saddle Sores
Chafing can be a unique problem for us women. This is something that men may never really understand.
Chafing and saddle sores can occur in different spots for different women. It may be where the leg meets the pelvis or if there is pressure on the soft tissue, then we may even find ourselves with soft tissue problems.
Keep in mind that to get the pressure off of the soft tissue we need to put more pressure on the sit bones. This can be a little uncomfortable at first, but as long as you have a properly fitting saddle, then the discomfort should eventually leave. Pay special attention to a saddle that may be too wide for you and can cause saddle sores on the inside of your leg where it meets the pelvis.
Soft Tissue Pain
This can be a troublesome problem for us ladies. The discomfort can show up as chafing, numbness or just pain from pressure on the lady parts. Ignoring this discomfort can eventually lead to future problems and maybe even a medical procedure. It is important to make sure you are not only riding a properly fitting saddle, but you should also make sure your bike is sizes properly, that your crank arms are the correct length, your saddle height is correct and that your saddle tilt and fore aft are correct. It can sometime take a bike fit to get the comfort you deserve.