Ahem… if there are any gentlemen in the room, be warned – we’re about to have some “girl talk” that might make you a bit uncomfortable.
Ladies, if you’re new to cycling or spinning, you may or may not have experienced a dreaded “saddle sore” yet. Heads up – there’s a pretty high chance you will at some point and they are not fun. It’s not anything you’re doing wrong or that you’re unclean, it’s an unfortunate nature of the beast. Honestly, how hygienic can strapping a sponge to your bottom while you sweat for x amount of time really be, right??
Below you’ll find a few tips for avoiding saddle sores, skin irritations, and other issues in your sensitive areas…
Wear clean cycling shorts every ride
We gotta start somewhere, right? Everytime you ride, your chamois is soaking up sweat, bacteria and who knows what else. Do you really wanna imagine what’s on there after it’s been lying around for a day or two? Many brands of cycling shorts do use antimicrobial or some other anti-fungal material/coating on the chamois that will get your through your ride without anything funky happening, but you should definitely wash before re-using.
Check your position on the bike
Wearing padded shorts is a great start to preventing sores since they reduce friction and pressure on sensitive areas. However, if you’re saddle is tilted too far forward, back, up, down, etc… you might be experiencing unnecessary pressure and friction. With a proper fit, you should feel pressure on your sit bones, not on your booty or groin. Call up your local bike shop or athletic trainer and ask if they have the ability to perform a bike fitting for you. Getting a proper fit will help correct saddle issues and even help prevent the risk of other bike-fit related injuries in your future. If you can’t get in for a bike fit, check out this video from Performance Bicycle that can help you get started, DIY style.
If you’ve tried the tips above and still don’t find relief, it might be time to go shopping – yay! A few things to consider buying would be new shorts, chamois creme (to help with chafing) or even a new saddle. There are both cycling shorts and saddles designed to accommodate a woman’s groin in a comfortable way. They are not one size fits all. You might have to shop around and try a few different shorts & saddle styles before you find what feels best for you.
If you find yourself with sores, chafing, and irritation, don’t panic. For minor issues, you can easily treat at home. It’s recommended that you soak in a hot bath at least once a day to help soften and clean the irritated skin. Then, apply antibacterial ointments regularly and place moleskin pads around the sores to keep pressure off the area while they are healing. It’s important that you do not try to “pop” the sores a) because it’s very painful and b) it will only make the saddle sore more irritated and swollen.
If you are experiencing anything more than general chafing and saddle sores, it’s probably best that you make an appointment with your physician. With how delicate the balance of organisms are “down there”, there’s no need to let a small problem develop into something much larger.