Why do we get saddle sores from cycling? It’s all about the friction, baby. Well, that and a host of other issues connected with how you ride your bike. This includes heat, moisture and more.
I used to mountain bike outdoors and spin at the gym. However, I never dealt with saddle sores until I started cycling regularly using my Peloton. I know I’m not alone.
Saddles sores from cycling
Saddle sores are one of the reasons I wrote my blog post about how to make the Peloton seat more comfortable. That and the fact that my butt felt sore a lot as did so many of my readers who wrote to ask what’s up with that. People also complained about sit or sitz bone soreness and overall discomfort, um, down there.
If you have overall soreness in your nether regions, I suggest you check out that aforementioned article on making the Peloton seat more comfortable. However, if you think your bike has given you saddle sores, read on.
What do saddle sores feel like
When I first had saddle sore symptoms, I didn’t know what they were. Honestly, I thought they were ingrown hairs on the top of my thighs where my thighs met my butt.
In other words, suddenly I was very sore right under my butt cheeks. It was right where my underwear line would hit the back of my thighs.
Yes, I wear traditional underwear, not a thong. Is that too much information to share?
Anyway, one of the things I learned was that I should not be wearing underwear while cycling. Yup, going commando was the best way to prevent saddle sores.
What causes saddle sores
So what was causing my saddle sore when I was cycling? The friction of my underwear rubbing against my skin. This was happening under my bike shorts or leggings. Moisture from sweating doesn’t help either.
It seems that when you’re on a bike, you want as little material between your sweaty back body aka your butt and legs and the bike saddle. That doesn’t mean you should wear a thin fabric when you cycle. In fact, the opposite is true.
You should wear padded bike shorts to protect your backside. And you should be wearing those padded bike shorts without any undergarments.
My favorite brand of padded shorts
Here’s where I noticed the difference with the Terry brand padding versus other brands of padded cycling shorts I’ve tried. The chamois or padding extends beyond your butt. This helps you avoid chafing and getting a saddle sore or any hot spots.
Wearing this Terry brand shorts, I was the most comfortable I’ve been riding since getting my Peloton cycle. Look: I know that Terry shorts are expensive. But they are worth it.
How to treat saddle sores
Anyway, when I looked in the mirror, the saddle sores did kind of look like ingrown hairs on the backs of my upper legs. Or a pimple or cyst. I was tempted to squeeze them like a pimple, but I knew doing so would put me at a risk of infection.
So I treated them like I would a pimple on my face. I knew that the best way to bring down the swelling was applying a hot compress. Not ice but a face cloth that I’d soaked in hot water.
In addition, you can try taking a bath with Epsom salts can help, too. This might be easier than holding that wet face cloth on your upper thigh area or sitting on the face cloth. It’s all very awkward, I’ll admit.
Finally, it’s best to stay off the bike until the saddle sores resolve. While you may be addicted to cycling on your Peloton like I am, it’s best to stay off the bike until the saddle sores resolve. You don’t want to keep irritating an already irritated–and might I add a very sensitive–area of your body with your bike saddle. Keep your Peloton streak going by doing other kinds of cardio or strength training classes.
How to prevent saddle sores
So, one of the best ways to prevent saddle sores is to create a frictionless environment. Remove the underwear, add padded shorts, and that’s a great start.
Also, there are products you can use to prevent saddle sores. These are glide products, if you will, to prevent rubbing. You might have experienced “chub rub” between your inner thighs when wearing dresses without tights.
While saddle sores aren’t exactly “chub rub,” the products to prevent both are the same. You can buy these friction-reducing glide products as a cream or in stick form. Some call them chamois creams. In fact, the padded part of cycling shorts are called chamois, too.
The idea is that you should apply the product before putting on your bike shorts. Then, they create a barrier so that as you pedal, you’re less likely to experience friction sores or chafing pimples, as some people call saddle sores. I’ve highlighted some of them here.
Products that help prevent saddle sores
Final thoughts on saddles sores from cycling
If you’ve tried all the products, ditched the underwear and invested in padded chamois shorts–and you’re still getting saddle sores–I have one additional suggestion: consider getting a professional bike fitting. I wrote about my experience of a remote virtual bike fit with Team Wilpers.
A bike fit can change how you sit on the saddle, and it can change the height of your saddle. Just these tweaks alone could solve all of your soreness down there.