6 Ways to Stop Saddle Sores
Have you been wondering how to prevent saddle sores from cycling? If you’ve done any long-distance cycling — especially without the right bike saddle — you are probably well acquainted with saddle sores. Sometimes they make it too uncomfortable to even sit on your bike, much less ride it.
These painful bumps, swollen spots, and contusions can sideline even the most dedicated cyclists. They make it hard to walk around the office without looking awkward, too. But we’ll trust that your main goal is to get back on your bike.
The good news is, there are easy ways to minimize and even prevent saddle sores. Here are six ways to keep riding in comfort.
Choose the Correct Shorts
A lot of saddle soreness comes from problems with your pants. A good chamois is essential to provide that extra padding and reduce friction. Many of them have anti-microbial properties as well, which will help prevent bacteria buildup — a key culprit in the infections that cause many a saddle sore. Choose shorts that fit just right, otherwise you’re inviting chaffing.
And, above all, keep those shorts clean! Wash after every ride or you’re creating a hotbed for bacterial growth (not to mention stink).
Lengthen Your Rides Gradually
As with any exercise routine, your body needs time to adjust to anything new. If you jump from a 10-mile ride to a 30-mile one, you’re going to get sore, even if you follow all of our other advice. Extend a little bit at a time — between 5% and 10% a week is a good target for stamina building in general — and you’ll build up some nice protective calluses.
Eat Right for Your Rear
A good diet and adequate hydration is essential not only for your energy level, but also to prevent excessive chaffing and infection. Hydration keeps your skin moist and supple, rather than prone to dryness and cracking. You also want to support the growth of collagens — the hard, fibrous proteins that strengthen your skin and give it more elasticity. Doctors recommend plenty of vitamin C and zinc to aid in collagen growth. And, of course, be sure to eat plenty of protein, an essential ingredient in tissue growth and repair.
Try a Chamois Cream
Not everyone needs to use a chamois cream, but it can be a life saver if you’re prone to saddle sores. Sure, it can be a little awkward to apply, but you’ll forget that when you notice how much more enjoyable your ride is. Many of these creams have anti-bacterial properties and soothing ingredients.
This one should probably go without saying, but sometimes your rear just needs a rest. Those irritated areas need time to heal, and putting them right back on the saddle is only going to make things worse. If you take a day or two off at the first signs of soreness, you’ll be back riding in no time. If you push it too hard, the sores will take much longer to heal, and you could be sidelined for weeks. If your struggling with how to prevent saddle sores from cycling, build regular rest into your routine, especially when you’re trying to lengthen your rides.
Most Important: Pick the Right Saddle
If you’ve tried the ideas listed above and still need help preventing saddle sores from cycling, it might be your saddle. As crucial as everything else on this list is, none of it will help if you don’t have the right saddle. It’s not just about the size of your seat, either. The style and construction of your saddle — especially for distance riding — will be the difference in comfort.
You need a seat that moves with you on the bike, offering minimal resistance and friction. We’ve looked at the medical benefits of tensioned leather touring saddles, and offer a full lineup so you can choose the right one for your weight and ride length.
When to See a Doctor
Most of the time, you can take care of saddle sores on your own. But don’t ignore infection. If you’re in serious pain or notice red streaking around the sores along with fever or chills, talk to your doctor immediately.
Of course, prevention is always the best medicine. Follow these tips and keep those saddle sores away for good.