You know the feeling I am talking about. What first comes to mind is the hour’s long pilgrimage to my grandparent’s house that growing up we would make quite frequently. Confined to the backseat of the car, I sat and watched out the window while my dad would play a game called ‘Trying to beat our personal best record of shortest trip to Gannys House ever’. Which in my family translates to- “no stops unless absolutely necessary”. Around hour two, a numbness would creep up through your legs and before you knew it- wham! All sensation in your butt would be gone. A plight my mother appropriately dubbed “Fanny Fatigue”.
In the decades since, and having procured a driver’s license of my own, I have been able to make the trek to my grandparents’ house successfully, sans fanny fatigue. As cyclists, I am sure this is an sensation shared by many. If you have ever experienced cycling-induced saddle soreness, you know it can make cycling unbearable. Not only that, but many worry about potentially doing permanent damage to their bodies. Through a 20 year period of trial and error, I have learned the ways of sore butt syndrome and have come to the realization that:
- Fanny Fatigue descriminates against no man- regardless of skill level
- Fanny Fatigue can result from just about anything that requires a surplus or lack of blood circulation in your butt
- Though we might not be able to win the war against Fanny Fatigue, we can still celebrate small victories through proper knowledge and implementing preemptive solutions before it is too late!
Pain is not a normal part of cycling. We are here with tips and tricks to help keep your butt in tip top condition- while also avoiding the dreaded Fanny Fatigue.
Make Sure your Bike Fits
Proper bike fit means you have a position on the bike that lets you ride as long as you want, as hard as you want, and stay comfortable the entire time. A good fit can also help prevent overuse injuries that result from an improper position. There are several ways to ensure your bicycle is properly fitted to your body and its needs, you can:
- Pay for a professional fitting. Expect an average cost of about $150 and up for a comprehensive fit. These can be done at most professional bicycle shops
- Do your own research at home with the help of this book, meant to educate riders on proper positioning
- Check out Treks Precision Fit System, designed by biochemical engineers specifically for cyclists
Get the Right Saddle
Make sure you 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. Fortunately, there are several types of seats that can help alleviate that pressure and prevent injury. Look for seats with a split saddle, or one with a space in the area that would normally press into the perineum. There are more extreme options like the “no-nose” bicycle seat, the moon seat and the easy seat that are geometrically different from a standard saddle as well. For help finding a bike saddle best for you try:
- Adjusting it to the correct height. This contributes to a more efficient pedal stroke and helps to prevent irritating symptoms from arising. Try using Bike Fittings Online analysis to determine your correct inseam
- A comprehensive list of the best bike saddles for Men and Women
Wear Bike Shorts
Though bike shorts have made their rounds within the world of pop culture and fashion, in reality they serve a much more useful purpose. Cycling shorts protect your most sensitive regions from the pain of long contact with a bicycle seat. The rubbing action of your inner thighs against the bicycle seat is offset by the smooth face of the cycling shorts. In addition to the mild compression provided by a tight-fitting pair of shorts that increases blood flow to the legs, cycling shorts are also close-fitting to maximize aerodynamics, and give a full range of motion to the rider. It is essential to spring for 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. Here are some resources to help find the best pair:
- Gear Labs extensive and in-depth analysis of the best womens cycling shorts.
- An equally informative list for men’s cycling shorts, provided by Mens Health
- Some tips and tricks if you’re a first time buyer, or just need a refresher
Generously apply Chamois Cream
First of all, what the heck is Chamois Cream? Chamois cream is an anti-bacterial, viscous substance that helps eliminate friction between skin and clothing, and therefore the chafing that can occur during a ride. It comes in a number of forms including balms, creams and even powder. If you start to get hot spots, Camois Cream might be your saving grace. It is your choice as to whether to put it on the chamois of your skin, though most find its optimal use is by applying directly to areas afflicted. 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.
- Here is a popular cream used among many in the cycling community
Moisture weakens your skin and increases the chance of irritation. If there is no way to stay dry, apply chamois cream before cycling. Heres how:
- Leave your underwear at home! Underwear decreases the effectiveness of your chamois. Your underwear may move and cause chafing, as well as lead to the potential of getting damp, making matters even worse.
- Be sure to have good, wrap-around fenders on your bike to avoid water splashing up at you.
TAKE A BREAK!
Take periodic breaks to rest your butt and stretch your legs. Use the opportunity to do some stretching and listen to your body. Your bicycle will be there waiting for you upon your return. Afterall, distance makes the heart grow fonder. That is of course distance on the trail as well, but also taking time to heal your body!