Sit Bones Pain and Saddle Position

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Dansky, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    I've had an ongoing issue with how my sit bones feel during cycling. I believe it may simply be my own poor positioning on the saddle, but I usually end up with undue pressure on both of my ischial tuberosities, aka. sit bones. Eventually (after a few days back-to-back cycling), one side or the other becomes a minor sub-surface infection. Don't worry, I won't post a photo.

    I always shower before and after cycling, use clean shorts, and use chamois creams. I've tried a few new bibs this season of different brands, and it's not changed anything.

    My saddle has gone from a Fizik Arione (2010 to 2012) to a couple of the ISM Adamos, and the sit bone soreness problem is the same. When I started to focus on my aero position more, the long nose of the Arione seemed an uncomfortable perch in my perineal region, so I ended up trying an Adamo saddle. The Adamo feels better in that regard, not having to "pick a side" of the saddle nose to let my manhood lie, so to speak. Not sure if I jumped the gun on that one, or not...we all know how bike stores are about selling you something else, if you have a problem.

    In the past couple of seasons I've focused on getting down into the drops much more frequently, and have a strong tendency to move forward on the saddle as I do so. Too far, I think...to my own detriment. Eventually, it's as if I'm perched on the front of the saddle, cranking away in a hunched over position of the bike's "cockpit," while I keep my speed up to a higher moving average than I've had in recent years.

    I've had a professional fit to both of my road bikes, incidentally. During the fit sessions I realize that I've been pedaling fairly modestly, not really the same as when I'm blasting away during one of my on-road interval sessions. As I said, in the heat of things I'll find myself inching forward on the saddle more and more, whilst fighting my tendency to hunch over. So I assume that the fitter kept the saddle back somewhat, not realizing how I tend to move forward. One of my own misconceptions of the Adamos has been that the two protuberances off the front are to accommodate most of my weight on the saddle, yet it would actually seem that I need to stay back further on the wider rear section. I do try and keep my back straight by letting my belly area bow down slightly; and I'm not overweight...180lbs and 6' tall.

    Anyone else experienced this? Thoughts and opinions are most welcome.
     
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  2. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    FWIW. Try a shorter stem AND/OR add some spacers (if possible) below your current stem to raise it up slightly ... BTW. When in doubt[COLOR=FF00AA]/[/COLOR](need?)[COLOR=FF00AA]/[/COLOR](last resort!?!), consider a BROOKS B17 saddle ... .... or, if a Brooks saddle is too porky, then track down a Selle Italia Turbo, a traditional San Marco Concor (vs. the "Lite" model), or a San Marco Rolls saddle. IMO, the OBJECT is to set your sit bones against the TAIL of the saddle ... THAT's essentially the same as sitting on the YOKE beneath the leather covering on a Brooks/-type saddle rather than straddling some part of the nose ... The "nose" of the saddle should be lower than the "tail" ... unless a person is a masochist, of course.
     
  3. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Here's a seeminly off-topic question that actually isn't... how fast are you going on these rides?



    Also, I'm not sure the move to the Adamo was a good one, as that shape saddle encourages you sliding to the front. It's meant for people bent over in an aggressive TT position.
     
  4. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    I should have mentioned that this year I went to my fitter and asked about wanting to get into a more aero position. He put me on a slightly longer stem with "zero rise," and this brought the handlebars down 7cm from the stock version that came on the bike. I tried it for 2 weeks while paying careful attention to my comfort, particularly in my neck and shoulders -- to see how I felt about being lower yet still being able to see in front without straining. Everything felt pretty good, and I did notice that my average moving speed improved.

    My average moving speed during each ride has been 21mph this season. I only ride about 120 miles per week, consisting of 2 shorter (faster) rides during the week and longer group rides on weekends.
     
  5. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    The reason I ask your moving speed is because there's this common misconception about saddle comfort that has people thinking the saddle is a couch. It isn't designed or intended to bear all your weight. Your weight should also be distributed to your hands and feet. The feet is the part everyone forgets about. If you pedal and coast such that all your rearward weight is resting on the saddle, you'll forever be uncomfortable. Obviously the faster you go the harder you need to pedal, and the harder you pedal the more of your weight is being transfered to your feet. That said, 21mph is certainly plenty fast that you shouldn't be having weight distribution issues.

    Have you considered skipping the fitter and doing the adjustments yourself? I'm fully convinced that the majority of fitters are a scam anyway. A 7cm drop in handlebar height is a massive, massive change to make in one fell swoop. Now when you drop the bars, you also increase the reach... yet on top of that he puts on a longer stem? And you're wondering why you kept wanting to slide forward.

    Was your ass comfort level acceptable before this position change?
     
  6. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AyeYo
    Was your ass comfort level acceptable before this position change?

    Yes. And the slightly longer stem feels better, in terms of my position while tucked down. I understand your logic, but it's hard to explain without a visual. During the fit session, I felt better in the drops and stretched out a bit in front, if that makes sense.


    FWIW. On today's training ride (37 miles), I moved my saddle forward on the rails somewhat, and focused on keeping my sit bones -as Alfeng puts it - "set back against the tail of the saddle." The only soreness I felt on my sit bones were the vestiges of my ride from 2 days ago. Hopefully, I'm on the right track.
     
  7. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    The only concern there is you're now adjusting the saddle fore/aft position to compensate for a reach change, which is big no-no. Now that you know that that is at least part of your issue, I'd take Alfeng's other suggestion and grab a stem shorter than your original or at least the same length. Then the saddle can go back to where it should be to have you aligned over the crank correctly, but without the reach issues this time.
     
  8. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Usually, saddles start to hurt when you're tired and your body tends to sag over the bike, not when you're pouring coal. Riding the nose and excess pressure might indicate the saddle is too high, though. If there's any "hanging by your crotch" effect, lowering it a couple millimeters should relieve that. Make sure it's level, too.

    I'm a long-stem guy, too, and I've found that as long as my hand position is in the ballpark it has no effect on how my butt feels. Saddles make a difference, too. I thought I loved my Arione until I did a 500-mile week on it. My new love is Selle Italia's Flite 1990 Edition.
     
  9. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    Oldbobcat,
    Yes, I feel better stretched out on a longer stem, having had minor back issues (not while cycling) and I've found an extended position is comfortable. Kind of like one of the exercises I used to do to relieve back pain.

    I went back on my Arione for a spell last summer when I trained for and rode a week-long tour (CRMBT) out in Colorado. Had the same sit bone pain (and a lovely sore) then as well. I think I've just been neglecting to keep myself back enough and onto the wider part of whatever saddle I'm using. Going aero on the Arione just added another aspect to it all; perhaps I kept moving so far forward to keep that long nose from rubbing against things down there, and developed a bad habit.

    The Selle Italia Flite 1990 looks like a beauty, btw. Nicely retro, and definitely not out of place on a modern road bike.
     
  10. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    And it has a genuine leather cover.
     
  11. smithsr

    smithsr New Member

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    Hi Dansky, Strange as it may seem, given that you have had a couple of bike fits, your symptoms, esp the sit-bone pain, resemble that which may occur from having your seat too high. Some of the bike fit methods that rely on measuring angles and KOPs etc seem to put people up too high.

    I suggest you have a look at the Steve Hogg bike fitting pages. Alternatively, drop your seat height down by about 5cm about 2", find a hill of about 4%. After a warm up ride up the hill under strong load. Keep raising the seat by about 3-4mm until you start to feel you are losing control of the feet force on the pedals at the bottom of the downstroke. Your seat height will be somewhere about 4-5cm below where you lost the control.

    www.stevehoggbikefitting.com
     
  12. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    What, no angles, no sensors, no plumb bobs, no computers or video analysis? Just balance and control? Heresy!

    I'm a Steve Hogg fellow traveler, too. I'm looking for his fitting DVD, titled "Sitting Pretty."

    By the way, I think you meant 4-5 mm below where you lost control.
     
  13. smithsr

    smithsr New Member

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    Thanks @oldbobcat, you are correct in catching my typo - should be "4-5mm" below where you lose control of the pedal stroke.

    One of the side effects of having a saddle too high is that when peddaling strongly in-saddle, your legs don't ever really partially unweight your backside off the saddle when hammering it along on longer rides or hard TT rides, particularly if you are not pedalling out of the saddle much. It can lead to the feeling of sit bone pain. Not so good for the midline sensitive bits either as they would be getting more pressure. By the way, I suspect the sit bone pain is possibly not so much bone pain, but a piriformis muscle in various stages of spasm/cramping. This may also cause short term irritation of the sciatic nerve. (have a search for piriformis syndrome)

    IMHO it is important to get seat height close to optimal before worrying too much about fine-tuning fore-aft position of the seat.
     
  14. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    Smithsr;
    That's some good info on the Steve Hogg website. Firstly, I've been misnaming the area of concern; it's actually the ischiopubic ramus, not the ischial tuberosities. As I rode 130 miles this weekend (Sat and Sunday combined) with the saddle moved forward just shy of 1", I also understand that this is effectively lowering my saddle by about 8mm according to the general rule given on Hogg's website. As I understand it, 3mm of forward movement of most saddles equates to 1mm of lowering the saddle - although that depends on rail design, and a Selle SMP saddle would be a notable exception. I've been on an Adamo Breakaway for the past year and a half (Fizik Arione previously...same issue).

    Regarding the actual pain, speaking from my own previous experience with sciatica (due to a herniated disc), this is definitely not the same. It's been as if the tissue between my ischiopubic ramus has been bearing too much load, and the resultant pinched/raw flesh becomes irritated to the point of eventual minor infection.

    Incidentally, this weekend, things felt better "down there." I did catch myself shifting forward on the saddle a few times - probably due to bad habit - as the pace of my group rides got pretty aggressive. What was supposed to be a recovery ride yesterday turned into an impromptu race in a few places along the course.
     
  15. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    This might seem obvious, but you haven't mentioned it yet... do you use chamois cream?
     
  16. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    Yes.
     
  17. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    Must have glazed right over that... twice.
     
  18. smithsr

    smithsr New Member

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    Hi @Dansky. Sounds like you have made progress and got some benefit from the effective lowering of the seat. I mentioned the Piriformis muscle as it is one of the larger internal pelvic muscles that hook onto the upper femur. I would expect that if your seat had been way too high then energetic pedalling would stress most of the pelvic floor muscles that are mobilised in moving the leg. (internal obturator, gamellus and others). Steve Hogg covers truckloads of stuff that can cause problems for our generally imperfect bodies, so jumping to solutions here is probably a bit too presumptuous. I found that paying up for his info is really worthwhile, so I think you would get more value out of exploring his stuff than waffling on much more I found his Q&A stuff particularly useful for the absolute mine of experienced commentary it has. Still ..... It sounds to me as though your seat is still too high. Cheers and all the best with it. :big-smile:
     
  19. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    When I read the OP the first thing I thought was "riding too near the nose" Alfeng nailed it IMO. Somehow you need to get back on the fat part of the saddle. This can be done and still be in a fairly aero position. I also believe in firm saddles. Brooks is all I ride. Ischael Tuberosities shouldn't get "squished" if your sit bones are supported by the saddle and not digging down into cushion. Now it is possible to get bursitis around the sit bones so don't discount that possibility. That takes time to overcome. See a doctor.
     
  20. Dansky

    Dansky New Member

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    I think simply keeping myself back enough is proving to be the solution. I rode a hard 20 mile interval session yesterday (22.3 mph average overall) and focused on keeping myself back on the saddle. No hots spots on the sit bones.

    Hopefully the issue is resolved, and thanks to all that have contributed.
     
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