As many fitness gurus will claim, the benefits of indoor cycling is only rivalled by running or outdoor cycling itself.
While it is a lucrative fitness option for most people, especially in these times of a rampant pandemic, a lot of the complaints that people had regarding indoor cycling previously are now coming into light again. Namely, seating discomfort.
Many people readily blame their seats for it and quickly invest for a change. And we know that saddles do not come cheap, many can cost you an upwards of $100.
While changing the saddle to fit your physique can provide immediate relief, most people fail to see that the sources of discomfort can be much more diverse but easier to solve, if not cheaper than changing the saddle outright.
As we have just mentioned, there can be multiple reasons for why you are experiencing discomfort during your spinning or indoor cycling sessions. The most common are:
- A Bad Setup
- Unwanted Friction
A few simple tweaks to your overall setup will allow you to easily overcome these issues.
What Makes Spin Bike Seats Uncomfortable?
The major case of sitting discomfort happens due to putting pressure on certain nerves that cover certain anterior sections of the pelvis, specifically the pelvic rami or pubis.
A video representation of the case:
Naturally, you are meant to be sitting on your ischial tuberosities, or sit bones, located directly under your butt. These bones support you when you are sitting upright.
But during aggressive cycling, you lean forward to pedal harder and faster and if this tilts and shifts your hips forward putting pressure on the pelvic rami instead of your sit bones.
Which brings us to our first point of contention:
1. A Bad Setup
Discomfort, numbness and even pain from riding a spin bike originates from nerve blockages due to them being pinched. A bad setup is the main reason why your nether region ends up being squashed.
Not only the shape and size of your seat, but also its height and the height of your handlebars comes into play.
Many professionals state that because of a bad setup the position of your sit bones shift from the wider padded section of your seat to a narrower and uncomfortable one.
When setting up a spin bike, you have to keep a few factors in mind:
- Your arm length (Your reach)
- Spinal flexibility
- Pelvic position while riding
With these in mind, adjust the height of your handlebars and seat to a comfortable position so that you don’t have to strain yourself to reach the handles and no excess pressure is exerted on your nethers. And also, your legs must be almost straight as you bottom out on the pedal.
But sometimes it is best to let a professional handle the situation.
You can get your sit bones measured before buying yourself a seat so that they rest perfectly on the most comfortable zone on the seat, no matter your position.
Or could just let a professional do your bike’s adjustments for you, and possibly learn from them for future reference.
This setup video has helped us a lot, hope it does for you too!:
2. Unwanted Friction
A common misconception amongst many is that the more padding you have the more comfortable you will be. You cannot be further away from the truth.
The seat is not meant to be like an armchair, some form of slight discomfort is expected, but getting more padding doesn’t overcome that.
Getting excess padding for your seat will only increase the friction between your thighs and the seat due to its now higher surface area. You can see your thighs looking like it has been under a sander after a particular rigorous session of spinning.
This is called chafing, and is one of the most common discomforts of cycling of any form.
Instead of adding more padding to your seat, wear padded cycling shorts instead. These will not only provide extra comfort, but also reduce the friction your inner thighs feel as you are spinning.
Consider using chamois cream (pronounced ‘shammy’). Application of this cream directly on the areas of your leg that are likely to be chafed will deal with any discomfort you might be facing post-workout. You do not need to use a lot, just a dab the size of a nickel will do the job just fine.
Spinning is an intense workout. It is common to see people sweat profusely after every session and it is also a common occurrence to get all that bacteria trapped within the skin.
The bacteria, coupled with the warm environment only complicates things further by giving rise to infections. From simple saddle sores to zits, everything is possible without proper care.
Shower immediately after every workout session.
As a general rule of thumb, you should rinse yourself within 20 minutes after your workout ends. If you are not at home, consider changing into a cleaner pair of shorts right away.
You should also take care of the shorts that you wear. Make sure to clean them properly, if possible every day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) How should you sit on a spin bike?
Ans.: Follow these steps to get yourself adjusted on your spin bike
- Adjust the saddle height. Stand beside your bike and bring up your saddle to be at the same height as your hips.
- Adjust the seat position. Bring your seat forward, or backward, enough so that when you align either of your feet in the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions you can see the laces of your shoes.
- Adjust your handlebars. Adjust the height of your handlebars so that your elbows roughly align with your shoulders and hips.
- Secure your feet. Your spin bike pedal will usually come with clipless or caged pedals. Utilize them to secure your feet to a static position.
- Burn those calories.
Q2) Should you spin every day?
Ans.: While burning calories on a spin bike (about 600 per hour) is never a bad idea, it is best to set some targets for your workouts rather than just blindly grinding it out every day.
If you are a professional athlete, or pursue cycling professionally, it may be a good idea to spend at least an hour in high intensity on your spin bike daily to keep you muscles going.
But if you are more of a casual workout enthusiast, a few spin sessions in a week should be more than enough to keep you fit. Take special care of your joints and diet to avoid any mishaps.
Hopefully you are now able to get a clearer understanding as to why you might be feeling uncomfortable in your spinning sessions.
And as we all here say: the first step to finding a solution to an issue is to know more about it.
The solutions we have provided are sure to see you experience an improvement to your spinning session, not only in terms of comfort but also performance.
So be consistent in your new found conditioning and of course, get spinning with more confidence!