Saddle sores can be caused by a number of different things, but as with most things in life, prevention is better than cure. Here are our top 5 ways to help ensure total comfort in the saddle and hopefully prevent any unpleasant problems in the shorts department.
1) Bike Fit
Chafing and pain in the saddle can be triggered by poor bike fit. If you are uncomfortable on your saddle, have aches, pains, bruising or rubbing, the first thing to check is that your bike position is set up perfectly.
If you are putting too much weight through your sit bones and not balancing your bodyweight through your arms, this can cause an uncomfortable build-up of pressure. Your saddle needs to be set at exactly the right height for you, otherwise straining to reach the pedals can cause you to rock from side-to side, leading to rubbing. Making sure your reach is right and the position of your saddle is relative to your handle bars will prevent you sliding backwards and forwards on the saddle which can often cause chafing.
Saddle choice is completely individual and what works for your friend will not necessarily work for you. Whilst big soft saddles look as welcoming as an armchair, they can actually be worse for your behind as you sink into them. A firmer saddle which encourages you to perch lightly will be more comfortable, so long as your bike fit is spot on.
Saddles are male and female specific, but beyond that, there are a number of different shapes and designs to cater for our broad range of anatomy and riding style. Some bike shops even have elaborate pressure sensors and measuring devices to help you choose a saddle to suit your bottom! Ideally, try a few different saddles for short rides before committing to purchase.
A decent pair of padded cycling shorts is absolutely essential for comfort – designed to have no seams to prevent chafing or rubbing. The pads are cut slightly differently for men and women. When you try your shorts on, make sure they fit snugly – there should be no creases or wrinkles and definitely no bagginess. Even try standing as if you were sat in the saddle to check how they will look and feel when you are on your bike. A good pair of shorts is an investment; if you cycle regularly, it is one piece of kit you shouldn’t be afraid to spend a little more money on.
4) Good Hygiene
Your cycling shorts are an adventure playground for bacteria – a nice warm, often sweaty environment for them to breed and multiply in. It is absolutely essential that you pay very careful attention to your own personal hygiene and wash your shorts well after every single ride. Never sit around in your damp shorts… as soon as you finish your ride, have a shower or a good wash with soap and water. If you can’t wash your shorts because you need them for riding home after work, at least hang them up to dry and air. Wash your shorts as soon as you can with a mild detergent, but no hotter than 30 degrees or the Lycra will be damaged. You can buy special anti-bacterial sports wash for your shorts such as Halo – not only does this rid your shorts of any nasty bacteria, it keeps them smelling fresh, too!
5) Lotions and Potions
Chamois cream as it is traditionally known, provides lubrication to help prevent chafing and rubbing, while anti-bacterial properties help prevent sores. There are many kinds of anti-bacterial creams you can rub into your shorts and your bottom to help protect your skin but you don’t need anything too fancy. Sudocrem – used for baby nappy rash – is a popular choice with many bike riders whilst in the saddle and to rub on afterwards to keep their skin healthy and to help any minor sores to heal faster.