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Cycling: Don't Let a Sore Butt Keep You Off the Bike

A different saddle, cycling shorts can help

You've dusted off your bike and gone out with your kids for your first family ride of the season, but now your butt hurts.  I wish I could promise that, after you been riding a few more times, your butt will stop hurting,  but I can't.  I can promise, however, that it will get better, and that there are some things you can do for a sore butt and some of the other minor, but often painful, problems you may experience from recreational/fitness cycling.

Make sure your saddle is comfortable

A comfortable saddle is one of the most important parts of the bike. Everyone's body is different, and so everyone in your family may need a different saddle. There are saddles specifically designed for men, women and children. If a member of your family can't get comfortable on the saddle they have, suggest they try a new one.

  • Although it isn't logical, a soft, gel saddle isn't always most comfortable and you won't ever see a professional cyclist using one. If you love your gel saddle, that's great, but if you aren't comfortable, don't hesitate to try out a harder one.

Wear cycling shorts

Aside from a helmet, padded cycling shorts are a cyclist's most essential piece of equipment/clothing.  Every brand is a little different, so it may take a while for each family member to find their favorite, but just about any padded cycling short will make riding more comfortable and enjoyable. There are shorts specifically made for men, women and children. If your family is doing a lot of riding, do your children a favor and buy them a pair of shorts as well.  They will enjoy riding much more.

  • Don't wear underwear under your cycling shorts. The whole point is to eliminate seams and layers that can bunch and chaff.

Apply cream to reduce chaffing & friction

Speaking of chaffing, if you or a family member are experiencing chaffing and friction while you ride, applying some cream on the pad of your cycling shorts will help ease the discomfort.  Everyone has their favorite brand, but here are some suggestions to try:  Udder Cream, Aussie Butt Cream, Paceline Chamois Butter, cold cream or A & D cream (although I suggest something that is water soluble.)

Hemorrhoid cream for saddle sores

Saddle sores are no fun. Ideally if you or your child are suffering from sores, you should take some time off from riding, but that isn't always an option. Hemorrhoid cream works great on saddle sores. Apply a liberal amount to the sore before riding, after showering and before bed. It helps take care of the swelling and reduces the pain and discomfort.

  • If saddle sores reoccur often or persists, you should consult with your doctor and consider trying a different brand of shorts.

Ice for bruising & swelling

If you or a family member experience bruising or swelling after riding, ice may decrease the swelling.  Try sitting on an ice pack or in a tub filed with cold water and ice.  Not so pleasant at the start, but after the first few minutes it isn't so bad, and afterwards your legs will feel great.

  • Try to ice for about 15 to 20 minutes. To avoid freezer burn, remember to place a thin layer of material between the ice bag and your skin. I have found that a pillow case works well.

Follow these tips and you and your family are prepared to hit the road and actually enjoy your time on the bike. Happy biking!

Erin Mirabella is a two-time Olympic track cyclist, mother, MomsTeam's track cycling expert, and children's book author.  Her books, Shawn Sheep The Soccer Star and Gracie Goat's Big Bike Race are available online at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, borders.com, velogear.com, and at The Olympic Training Centers and select stores.  For more information visit Erin's website.

Created May 1, 2010