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If you’re new to regular bike riding, then you have probably noticed some soreness from your bike seat (also called the saddle). It may be causing mild or even more extreme discomfort, and you might be wondering what to do about it.
First of all, let’s clarify one thing: You will get used to your bike seat!
Let’s look at why bike seats hurt in the first place, and what you can do to expedite the process of getting accustomed to them.
Why do bike seats hurt?
When your ride your bike, most of your body weight is distributed on just two small bones on either side of your pelvis known as ischial tuberosity.
These bones are not accustomed to holding your body weight in such a manner, so the soreness is just their reaction to the strain. However, sitting on these bones is the proper way to straddle your saddle, so the pain doesn’t mean that something is wrong.
If you’re a new rider, take some comfort in knowing that it’s probably a good thing that you’re sore from your seat.
How to get used to a bike seat
You can take a few steps to become comfortable in your bike seat more quickly.
First, make sure that your bike and your seat are the right size for your body and are properly positioned. See our post on cycling ergonomics.
Next, make sure you’re sitting properly. Some people sit too far forward (or too far back, although this is less common), which means that those pelvic bones are resting on the narrow, less cushioned part of the seat.
Be sure to engage all of muscle groups, especially your core muscles. Engaging your core and glutes (bum muscles) will cause your pelvic muscles to hold tighter, reducing their chance of injury.
Try standing up once in a while. You can rise up and out of your seat, and should do so when riding uphill or riding long distances. This transfers your weight to your legs and gives those tender bones time to rest.
Last, but certainly not least, use padding. You can buy padded seats, seat covers, and padded bike shorts to make the ride more comfortable. Even professional bikers will often use these products when they can to protect themselves from discomfort. (Learn about the pros and cons of padded bike shorts vs. padded seats here.)
How long does it take to get used to a bike seat?
Everyone’s body is different, so everyone will adjust to a new bike seat at their own pace. Body type (including bone structure), muscle tone (in many different muscle groups), age, gender, and other factors will influence how quickly you adjust. If you have experience with similar activities, such as riding horses or motorcycles, you may not experience much pain at all.
Work up to your comfort level gradually. When you first start out, try not to ride for more than an hour each day, at least until the soreness dissipates. Keep in mind that you may also have a period of adjustment after getting a new bike, but it won’t likely take as long.
If the discomfort lasts more than three weeks or so, talk to an expert, either a personal trainer with cycling experience or another avid rider. They may be able to give you more pointers. The big takeaway here, though, is that you will get used to your bike seat—we promise!