Cycling makes me so sore — down there. Any tips? — Cristina T via email
First of all, cycling does take some getting used to, so initially a little discomfort is normal. But, if it persists, here are a few things to consider:
1. Readjust your bike: The biggest mistake I see students making in class is riding way too low. Here is how you adjust: 1) Set the seat at hip-height to start, then hop on the bike and continue to raise the seat one notch at a time until your leg is straight and your knee is locked, then lower it one notch at a time until there is only a slight bend in your knee at bottom of pedal stroke and the pelvis is not rocking side to side. 2) Move the seat forward or back until your knee is directly over the ball of the foot. You can measure this by dropping a plumb line from the tip of the knee to the end of the crank arm (the metal rod that inserts into the pedal).
2. Add resistance: As your legs get stronger, you are able to apply more resistance to the bike, and the more resistance you push through, the more you can lift up and out of the saddle, reducing the pressure on that area.
3. Watch your posture: People tend to sit very heavily into their sits bones due to poor posture and lack of core strength, causing them to grind their butts into seat. They also tend to posteriorly tilt their pelvis. Instead, you want to sit towards the back edge of saddle (feeling as if you're almost sticking your butt out while maintaining a neutral spine).
4. Beware of gel: Don't use a gel seat. This only causes more friction — and on a bike seat, friction is not your friend because it can cause chafing. Gel seats can also make you shift more from right to left causing excessive "tugging" of the lower back muscles. If you want some extra cushion, I'd recommend buying a good pair of padded cycling shorts.
- Rachel Buschert, Equinox Group Fitness Instructor, Schwinn Master Trainer, ACE, AFAA