Cycling and pain in the perineal area: how to prevent it
Pain in the perineal area is perhaps the biggest problem for those who love cycling. It can happen to everyone, both experienced and novice cyclists: for the former, the cause is often due to the many hours spent on the saddle, while for the latter, the motivation lies in the need to get used to the position.
The good news is that pain, redness and furunculosis can be prevented with a few important measures.
Let’s try to analyse the discomforts that most frequently affect the perineal area, trying to identify the causes and, more importantly, how to resolve them.
1. Reddening and chafing
Redness and chafing are one of the biggest saddle-related problems, especially for those who have just started cycling and therefore have not yet developed what used to be called “callus”. In particular, these problems arise from the skin rubbing against the bottom of the shorts, especially in the groin area, aggravated by heavy perspiration.
- Use specific creams for the upper part of the saddle: they have an anti-chafing function and often also contain soothing and anti-bacterial principles.
- Use quality bib shorts choose a good chamois pad, but also a garment with an anatomical “cut” that guarantees an optimal fit. It is also important to choose the right size, as bib shorts that are too wide and loose inevitably tend to move and therefore increases the problems associated with chafing.
2. Pain or swelling in the ischial tuberosity area
The ischial bones are the two points of greatest contact on the saddle, especially for those who pedal in a comfortable position (with little difference in height with respect to the handlebars). Sometimes this develops into oedema due to excessive pressure.
- Choose a suitable saddle for your physical shape and your position on the bike: it is important that the saddle is wide enough to fit your ischial bones.
- Increase the handlebar height difference, as this will allow the pelvis to rotate slightly forward and the weight of the body to shift in part from the ischial bones to the perineal area.
3. Furuncolosis and infections
Furunculosis is another common and very annoying disease for cyclists.
It usually originates from hairs that are pulled out due to continuous rubbing, and grow back under the skin. Other times, it simply originates from subcutaneous infections caused by bacterial action. If the problem occurs frequently, it is advisable to consult a doctor, since in the most severe cases it is necessary to cut the abscess (with the consequent period of prolonged stoppage).
- Attention to personal hygiene in the intimate areas: it is precisely the proliferation of bacteria that facilitates the development of boils. Wash with antibacterial and acid pH soaps before and after exercise.
- Bib shorts and shorts should be washed with each use, preferably with the addition of disinfectants to the normal detergent.
- Use antibacterial and anti-scrub creams, which reduce the risk of boils forming.
- If furunculosis is already in progress, see a doctor with a special cream (based on antibiotics or bactericides). In severe cases it may be necessary to resort to general antibiotic therapy.
4. Genital intorpidiments and pain during urination
If you return from long bicycle rides with “numb” genitals or with more or less intense discomfort during urination, the motivation lies in prolonged and intense compression in the perineal area, resulting in inflammation of the urethra.
- Lower the tip of the saddle by 1 or 2 degrees, to reduce pressure on the perineal area (ideally a total inclination of 7/8 degrees).
- Slightly reduce the height difference between the saddle and handlebars, a more upright posture on the bike shifts the pressure from the perineal area to the ischial bones.
- Choose a saddle with a hole or central channel.
- Rise more frequently on the pedals and change position from time to time, to relieve pressure and help restore circulation to the affected areas.