Sitting wonky? The importance of saddle position for your body

Alice Monger-Godfrey is a registered Osteopath, who has treated athletes as renowned as Lizzie Armitstead. She’s also an ex-professional and Great British cyclist herself, and works with people from all walks of life – athletes and office workers alike.

Monger-Godfrey, who now runs a clinic called AMG Osteo, says that one of the major issues creating problems for female cyclists off all levels is saddle discomfort.

She tells me: “I reckon about 75 per cent of women are having problems with saddle discomfort – anything from pain on the bike, to saddle sores, to actually noticing a difference in labia size caused by pressure. Men do get discomfort –but because they can sit more flat on the saddle they tend to be the more superficial things [like saddle sores or ingrown hairs].”

In the women’s peloton we’ve had women who have had to have operations.

However, I think there’s more talk about it now because more people are cycling for enjoyment.

Monger-Godfrey says the problems have always been there – but an increase in cycling participation means it’s becoming more widely discussed and addressed – telling me: “It’s a massive issue – in the women’s peloton we’ve had women who have had to have operations. However, I think there’s more talk about it now because more people are cycling for enjoyment or to get around. In the past, the mentality of cycling has always been ‘get on and do it’ – now with more people cycling just for fun there’s a focus on comfort. That can only be a good thing, I speak to so many people who say they don’t want to cycle because its painful, and it shouldn’t be. We all get muscle aches but you shouldn’t have to endure discomfort from sitting on the saddle.”

Take home tips:
  1. Get a bike fit to see if you favour one side

  2. Try to stay symmetrical when sitting, and get up and move around every 20 minutes during the day

  3. Stretch, and work on your core to address imbalances in flexibility and strength

To avoid altering our position to cater for saddle sores, we need to avoid saddle sores. Monger-Godfrey has more tips there – and says: “Finding the right saddle is important. The ISM saddle is really popular – a lot of women I treat are trying them out and they seem to help out a lot, many of them swear by the ISM. But I’d never say ‘this is the best saddle’ – it’s completely individual, that’s just the style I’ve heard the most positive reviews around. The people having the most problems are usually those riding the saddle that came on the bike, because they’ve often not looked into the options.”

There’s more to it than saddles though, she says: “Shorts need to be good. Get lovely padded shorts, I always use women’s specific shorts, with no underwear underneath. When padding runs down in shorts, replace them – get rid of them and use new ones.”

She adds: “Chamois cream always really helped with me [when I was racing], and I used Sudocrem after a ride [to avoid infection and calm the area]. And try and move on the bike. We often stay sat in same position, especially when it’s cold – get out the saddle, wriggle around about, it helps to reset everything.”

Another option, though it can be expensive, is saddle mapping as part of a professional bike fit. Monger-Godfrey says: “Saddle mapping is really interesting, as you can see where you’re putting pressure and tweak your position or the saddle to fix it. You can sometimes examine your saddle to see if one side has worn out over time – this could give you some insight if you’re not ready to spend on a full bike fit.”

Take home tips:

  1. Work on looking for the perfect saddle, saddle mapping can be pricey but worth it.

  2. Wear good female specific padded shorts, and no knickers underneath so the padding does its job. Replace them when they get old.

  3. Use chamois cream during a ride and Sudocrem after.

Read full article here: https://totalwomenscycling.com/fitness/sitting-wonky-saddle-discomfort-lower-back-pain-66442/#Z1KrBMqEByDxVx2r.97

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