Are you planning a long-distance bike touring trip? Or are you commuting to work every day using your bike? Or are you just an avid cyclist looking to improve your biking knowledge? Whatever reason you have, you’ll find it useful to read this article about how to avoid saddle sores.
Here at The Adventure Junkies, we’re committed to offering our readers all kinds of useful pieces of advice and great tips for biking, ranging from the parts of a bicycle to the best cycling gear.
In this article, we discuss one of the most painful and irritating “injuries” a cyclist can sustain. Every serious cyclist will suffer from saddle sores sooner or later. These kinds of superficial injuries are literally a pain in the butt. So, read on to learn how to avoid saddle sores.
WHAT ARE SADDLE SORES?
The term “saddle sore” is pretty self-explanatory. It is a painful condition that results from spending extended time on a saddle. This can be a saddle for horseback riding or one on a bicycle. In fact, even horses can suffer from saddle sores.
While Bicycling.com explains that the term may be used to describe a variety of conditions, saddle sores generally affect the area where your skin rubs against your shorts and saddle, otherwise known as your butt. More specifically, the places most vulnerable to saddle sores are your ischial tuberosity bones, commonly known as your sit bones, and your perineum.
Although saddle sores do not show alarming signs early on, these can develop into more serious conditions if left untreated. This condition has three different stages.
It begins with superficial skin abrasions caused by chafing, which can be very irritating. If not treated properly, these wounds can get infected with bacteria. This can lead to folliculitis. The third stage, which constitutes the formation of abscesses, is the most painful.
Saddle sores are difficult to avoid if you ride your bike often and in long distances. If you notice that you’re getting a “saddle sore,” don’t hesitate to seek treatment right away. Quick and early damage control can save your entire bike touring trip or cycling season.
HOW YOU CAN AVOID SADDLE SORES
Saddle sores develop under moist and warm conditions and after extended friction and long-lasting pressure. With that knowledge, it is easy to come up with the things to do to avoid saddle sores.
As is the case with so many conditions, if you have to start treating something, it’s already too late. Use the preventive tips below to keep your professional or amateur cycling career as saddle sore-free as possible.
1. PICK A PROPER BIKE SEAT
Your bicycle seat is the first thing you should take into account, according to Bike Radar. As saddle sores occur on your butt, choosing the best possible seat may seem as the most obvious precautionary measure. However, that doesn’t mean that the decision-making process is simple.
Just like you should have a customized bike, fitted to your specific body type, your saddle should match your bottom area. Everyone’s bottom is shaped differently, so it’s crucial that you check out several options before you choose a bicycle saddle that feels most comfortable.
Don’t assume that the softer the saddle, the better it is compared to others. Often, the harder saddles are found to cause the least amount of friction. Shape is what you should focus on, not weight or design.
2. CHOOSE THE BEST SEAT HEIGHT FOR YOU
Once you find the right saddle, it’s important to make sure it’s at the right height. In addition to the correct bicycle fit, finding the proper seat height for your body type is essential to avoid saddles sores.
A seat that’s too high will make you slide slightly side to side when pedaling, which obviously won’t be good for your butt after several hours on the bike.
3. INVEST IN GOOD CHAMOIS
Although a bike seat that’s too soft might not be the best, a soft chamois is always a good idea. Chamois is the padded part on the bottom of the bicycle shorts or pants. It’s the first point of contact of your skin.
Do not scrimp and attempt to save money when choosing bicycle shorts/pants. Consider these as investments as the more expensive ones are made with quality materials, which will benefit you tremendously in the long run. Their design is usually better as well. Try to find shorts/pants with as few seams as possible. Remember that the type with no seams is the best option.
4. WASH, WASH, WASH
Arguably the most useful practical tip is to make sure that everything stays clean all the time. This applies to your body as well as your clothing. Only if it’s absolutely necessary is it okay to wear the same clothes two days in a row. In all other times, wash them when you get back home.
It’s also important to take off your cycling clothes right away after your ride and go for a shower. Make sure to dry yourself off properly before putting on clean clothes.
After washing your cycling clothes, ensure that they are completely dry before wearing them again.
5. APPLY CREAM
Many professional road cyclists and mountain bikers use chamois cream. They apply it to their bottoms or on the inside of their shorts/pants. If that seems like a bit of a hassle for you, then let us tell you that this tip gives you at least two advantages.
The cream’s contents include chemicals capable of killing bacteria that may cause inflammation and infections. Second, the cream functions as a lubricant in your shorts/pants. In turn, it limits friction and decreases your skin’s rubbing against the shorts.
TREATING SADDLE SORES
Once you get saddle sore, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Saddle sores are wounds like any other and would take time to heal. That’s why it’s recommended to take a few days off to give your affected skin some much-needed rest. If you really have to ride your bike, it is advisable that you change your saddle for a short while to change the pressure points.
To speed up the healing process, you should clean the affected area regularly and make sure to let it breathe. This doesn’t mean you have to go commando, but wearing loose clothing and sleeping naked for a while does help. Applying ointments and specific creams for skin conditions also eases the problem a lot.
If you’re not stubborn and treat your saddle sores immediately when you notice them, you shouldn’t have a huge problem. The sooner you treat them and the better you apply the above-mentioned tips on how to avoid saddle sores, the easier it will be to stay comfortable on your bike.