How to Deal with Discomfort “Down There”
Alright, so you have heard it from Liv more than once. Finding the right saddle, getting a proper bike fit and wearing a good chamois can go a long way in preventing chaffing and other issues that occur to your bum when you ride. But, why take our word for it? We have amazing athletes—from newbies to pros—who have been there and done that. Check out all of our gals’ expert advice.
“Here is a big one: shower immediately after your bike ride! Don’t sit around in those humid, sweaty bibs, unless you want a ‘nappy rash.’ Choice of seat is also very important. I don’t want to recommend just one brand, as you should pick your own based on your anatomy. For me, I love the saddles that have a split front. If there is nothing there, it can’t be uncomfortable! These saddles are great for triathlon due to your body position, but they do take a while to get used to. It took me about 500 km on the road to get used to the difference, but now I couldn’t imagine riding on a ‘normal’ saddle. Here are some of my favorites: SMP; ISM; Cobb
Lastly: never wear underwear under your riding shorts! Then, wash your riding shorts after every ride, just like you do with your underwear!”
“The first time I was on my road bike, it was not love at first sit. I felt like my legs could go on for days, but my seat was giving me the most problems. No matter how much I shifted, adjusted my shorts and tilted my pelvis, I could find no relief. This is the part of biking that everyone struggles with, but no one talks about. Here are some of my tips:
- Get your saddle angle right. This is HUGE. Due to the varying rotations of our pelvis you’ll need different angles of your saddle. If you feel numbness downstairs you may find a huge relief from angling your saddle down a degree or two.
- Get decent bike shorts. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. Try on a few different pairs, walk around in them. Get a feel for any possible chafing areas. Before leaving the bike shop, grab some chamois cream/body glide.
- Ride more. Everyone will experience discomfort downstairs when they start riding. But the more you ride, the less it will hurt, as your muscles and tissues get used to it. “
“We all want to ride. We want to go further with more intensity and sometimes, we want to ride multiple days in a row. But there’s this catch; this thing called friction which can cause discomfort and chaffing and saddle sores and bruising and yeast infections! There are some ways to deal with this dilemma of ride and experience pain, or don’t ride and experience sadness.
Proper fit: If your fit on the bike is all cockeyed, things are never going to be comfy down there.
Chamois Creams and Body Glide: I don’t use any! But, that doesn’t mean these aren’t an important solution for some women. So, I asked my friends at the Brooklyn Tri Club:
Oils—Going natural works great for some women. Apricot, avocado or coconut oil don’t have any pore-clogging ingredients and a little goes a long way. Coconut oil is especially amazing because it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Neat Feat 3B Action Cream—A “between and beneath cream.” It is an anti-perspirant, anti-fungal powerhouse.
Chomper Booty Balm—Full of anti-inflammatory and antiseptic essential oils of lavender and lemon. Smells good and protects from the effects of friction!
Petal Power Fresh Finish Cleanser—Cleaning up after a ride is super important. This is a natural, plant based bacteria-fighting cleanser with cucumber and aloe extracts to sooth your booty!
Treatment: Coming from the nurse in me, if you already have issues from improper fit or poor saddle choice, there are some things you can do. Sometimes those chaffed, red areas or irritated hair follicles can become infected. Warm compresses three times a day will help stimulate the immune response. Beyond that, a topical antibiotic like bacitracin or even prescription strength mupirocin and allowing yourself time to heal should do the trick.”
“I will be honest here and tell you that I still have not found the perfect saddle. It is a very personal thing, and what one woman may love the other doesn’t. It is often trial and error. I have dealt with the odd saddle sore and serious chafing during racing. I have experienced standing under the shower after a long ride and that stinging sensation reminds you of why you probably won’t be riding for a while.
Almost every woman has experienced some kind of saddle soreness during or after riding. The best thing we can do is share our experiences about saddle sores. What works for some may not work for others, but at least we know we are not the only one!
Chamios cream - I always use chamois cream, particularly on the long rides. Layer it on! There are many brands on the market but anything from Aussie Butt Cream to Bepanthen Antiseptic cream.
Try a saddle – The better bike stores will have loan or trial saddles for you to try for 2 – 4 weeks before you buy.”
Rest then persist – If you do get a saddle sore you need to rest first and let it heal. Then seek a solution. Every woman should be able to ride a bike in comfort and for long periods. It is about persisting in finding the right seat, set up, comfort and protection. Don’t give up!
“Riding a bike is supposed to be fun and relaxing but when the only thing you can think about is how much discomfort you’re feeling ‘down there,’ it’s hard to have a positive connection towards going on a ride. Before getting fitted for a bike, I used to think the seats were so uncomfortable. I would always be the person gravitating towards the seat covers in cycling classes to try to have a more enjoyable ride. When I found the bike that was the right size for me, as well at the right seat height and tilt, it changed everything.
When I started training for my triathlon, I made the mistake of wearing normal running leggings with a thong underneath on a 50 mile bike ride. I learned my lesson the hard way after a lot of fidgeting and adjusting on my bike as well as having to pull up my leggings almost the entire way to our destination. Everyone else in the group had on bike shorts and chamois cream ready to go if and when they needed it.
I suggest finding a good pair of bike shorts, especially for longer rides and when your backside is getting used to the saddle. And, don’t wear a thong under it…”
“Looking into my bike room the other day, I noticed all the different saddles I have ridden in a stack on the shelf. I have tried so many different saddles, had so many different bikes, bike fits, bike shorts, and chamois creams over the years. Some saddles work for a few days or a few weeks, sometimes they will work for an entire season of training and racing. But, then it happens: I take a few weeks off, I get back on my bike for the first longer ride, take a shower, and BAM! Burning, stinging red bumps.
There is a bit of “grin and bear it” in getting used cycling and a new saddle. You crotch has to acclimate to riding a bike. After a few weeks of consistent riding, you should be feeling comfy. If you’re not… well it’s back to the bike shop to do some saddle searching.
When I got started with riding at spinning classes, I was embarrassed to wear the big diaper-padded bike shorts, so I opted to put a cushion on my seat. When I upgraded to a road bike, I couldn’t do this because the cushion moved too much, added to much height to my fit and it just felt super uncool. So, I upgraded to padded shorts. The key with shorts besides the padding is that they are snug. You don’t want to have a chamois that is moving around just because you don’t want them as tight on your waist. Get used to wearing tight clothing and embrace your asana.”
So there you have it. Basically, EVERYONE has had issues at one time or another from saddle soreness and chaffing. We have all lived through it and come out on the other side. While finding the right saddle for your riding style and anatomy may be a challenge, it is possible! So, never give up on riding or give in and live with pain. There is a solution out there for you. Hopefully these tips have helped!