Saddle Sores: the 5 factors

March 8, 2017

I did a lot of riding yesterday, and we'll just say I realized that it might already be time to revisit a delicate subject: saddle sores. Here are the 5 basic factors that cause saddle sores. Whether preventing or treating them, it helps to know what in the world is going on down there!

  1. Friction - you rub; you grind; you move about, inside of your clothes and ontop of your saddle
  2. Dampness - you sweat, and you sit in it.. for a while
  3. Heat - it's very hot down there! Need I say more?
  4. Stretching - a pedal stroke is a very big motion, and you do thousands of them, even a short bike ride; multiply that out for a week or a month of riding. Your skin is stretched thin!
  5. Pressure - you're sitting heavy on that saddle and over time that pinches, creases and generally cuts of circulation

Since no single solution can alleviate all of these factors, let me list some examples of remedies and what they help with specifically.


  • Cycling shorts: reduces friction by fitting tightly and minimizes dampness with synthetic chamois designs. Your civilian clothes are a major problem for saddle sores.
  • Chamois cream/balm: good for "hotspot" friction; some can be cooling; stretched skin might also be soothed by creams
  • Baby powder: this fights the dampness, same as in a wet diaper... So it's kind of meant for the opposite problem as the balm
  • Bike fit: disperses pressure and promotes a natural and personally specific motion, making stretching and friction less problematic
  • Standing up regularly: getting out of the saddle helps increase blood flow, reducing pressure and giving you a moment to cool off down there. Try standing for at least 10 seconds every 5-10 minutes
  • Losing weight: (easier said than done) reduces pressure by decreasing total load on your skin. Losing mass also changes the friction and stretching dynamic, stressing your skin less while doing the same activity

The last piece of advice is to open the discussion. It might get a little vulgar, but I guarantee there are others who feel like you do! 
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