News alert: you shouldn’t be suffering in the saddle! Saddle sores, soft tissue pain, chafing, and pelvic floor issues should not be ignored.
There ARE solutions to your saddle pain and discomfort “downstairs”. In this article (and podcast episode), I’ll share 7 things you can try to address your issues.
Listen To (Or Watch) This Episode
1) Try a women’s specific saddle.
Most stock saddles are designed for men, not women. If you’re still riding on the saddle that came with your bike, try upgrading.
We especially recommend trying a women’s specific saddle. These are generally designed to better suit the female anatomy addressing wider sitbones and our soft tissue.
Numerous women-specific saddles are available on the market, and we’ve tested and reviewed a bunch for you. But remember, everyone’s anatomy varies, and therefore what works best for me might not be what works best for you.
It’s beneficial to try out several different saddles to determine which one is a good fit. If possible, opt for shops that offer loaner saddles for testing. Or, buy from a brand like Terry that will let you test any saddle for 30 days.
Another important thing to consider when selecting a saddle is your sit bone width. Everyone has different pelvic widths, and it’s crucial to find a saddle that fits you just right.
While there are DIY methods available online, like using memory foam or tin foil to measure your sit bone width, getting a professional bike fit can offer a more accurate measurement. Some bike shops even offer this service for free if you’re buying a saddle from them.
2) Switch up your bike shorts.
If you’re new to cycling and haven’t yet bought a quality pair of bike shorts, this could be a game-changer. If you already own a pair and still experience discomfort, it might be time to explore other options.
Try investing in a higher-end pair, or experiment with different thickness levels for the padding, known as the chamois. Some cyclists even prefer riding without a chamois altogether (particularly for mountain biking or bikepacking).
Just like saddles, the size and shape of chamois vary, and finding the right one requires some trial and error. Try a few and see what works best for you.
3) Get a bike fit.
If you’ve already tried new shorts and a new saddle and that hasn’t helped, it’s time to get a professional bike fit. An experienced fitter can help adjust your position on the bike so that you’re better situated on your sit bones.
And it’s not just about pelvic pain; if you’re experiencing discomfort in areas like your shoulders or back, a bike fit can help address those issues too.
4) Use chamois cream.
If chafing is your issue, try a chamois cream. Chamois cream acts as a barrier between your skin and your shorts, reducing friction.
You can apply a small amount to your butt and/or inner thighs. We recommend looking for one that is pH balanced for women!
5) Take off your bike shorts right away.
As soon as your ride is over, take your bike shorts off. As in, in the parking lot! Leaving sweaty shorts on can cause yeast infections, rashes and other yucky (and uncomfortable!) stuff.
And when you get home, make sure to take a shower.
6) Give it time.
You shouldn’t suffer forever, but if you are brand new to cycling, give it some time. Your butt muscles will toughen up and you might even develop a few callouses. (Yup, that’s a thing).
7) See a physical therapist.
Sitting on a saddle can aggravate pelvic floor issues. Don’t suffer!
There are solutions. Online platforms like YouTube have numerous pelvic floor yoga and exercise tutorials.
In more severe cases, it’s advisable to consult a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor issues. It’s a common problem, and seeking professional help shouldn’t be stigmatized.
Even More Help
- How to Heal (and Prevent) Cycling Saddle Sores
- Don’t Wear Underwear With Bike Shorts & 5 Other Tips On How To Wear Bike Shorts
- Getting Back On The Saddle After Having A Baby
Are You Listening To The Femme Cyclist Podcast?!?
A podcast for women who love bicycles! We we celebrate all forms of riding and all forms of women, so whether you’re a road cyclist, mountain biker, or bike commuter, you’ll find your community here. Each week we’ll week bring you interviews from inspiring women, and offer tips and tricks to help you thrive on the bike.
About The Host
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.