AVOID THE UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE OF CHAFFING. Chaffing on the bike commonly occurs around the bike saddle. It will effect your ability to enjoy your riding. Understand how to identify and prevent chaffing, its potential causes, as well as how to manage chaffing if you experience some symptoms.

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How to Identify Chaffing

Chaffing what is it and what might you experience – see or feel

Chaffing is caused when 2 structures repetitively rub causing friction and heat.

What you may be feeling/seeing: burning sensations, redness, infected hair follicles, raw skin, blistering, lumps. This can be common on the inner thigh, between butt checks or any area that comes into contact with your bike seat and less common around the armpit area.

It is important to identify chaffing early on so beware during and after rides for any of these symptoms. If you have had a change to your bike saddle and its set up as well a change in the frequency or time on the bike then it is the time to be vigilent and do a post ride check.

Chaffing what are the causes and how to prevent it.

Bike Clothing

Wearing the right clothing, clothing that will match your level of activity on the bike will help prevent chaffing. If you are riding for a period of time it is important to use a performance fabric. A fabric that is soft, will move with you and will wick moisture from the skin therefore preventing the build up of moisture. The presence of moisture is more likely to cause the breakdown of the top layer of skin and also assist in the rubbing between 2 structures. Wearing loose clothing can also produce rubbing as you repeat particular movements like pedaling and also handle bar movement.

Clothing seams result in the fabric no longer being smooth and can cause irritation at these seams if rubbing occurs. Good quality bike pants/underwear will be designed so the seams are not positioned where rubbing can occur from repetitive movement.

Always wear clean bike pants or underwear. Remember you are wearing your cycle pants or underwear directly against your skin (we do not wear underwear under our bike pants or bike underwear as this provides additional seams and increases the liklihood of irritation) so wash after every use to avoid the build up of any bacteria.  Always make sure you have washed your new bike pants and underwear to soften before use.

Saddle shape and set up.

Bike saddles come in different shapes. Different shapes to match both the female and male differences. As well as differences for the type of riding you do. Where you make contact with the seat is dictated by your position on the bike and and the style of bike.  For example up right riders who sit with a straight back transfer weight directly down through their sit bones towards the back of the seat.  Compare this to a road rider who is bent along way forward and will have weight and pressure points more to the front of the seat. Therefore it is very important that the shape of the seat matches the position you ride in and type of rider you are. Having the correct shape as well the cushioning in the right places reduces the risk of rubbing on the seat.

The seat also needs to be set up correctly. The incorrect height/ tilt of the saddle can influence where there is increased pressure on the seat and lead to rubbing issues.

Learn more at: Bike Saddle Adjustment – Height/Tilt/Reach

Incorrect Pedaling Technique.

How you pedal can effect whether you get any rubbing on your saddle. It is important you have good hip knee ankle alignment throughout your pedal motion. Subtle changes in your pedal action can influence whether you experience any rubbing on the inner thigh or not.

Learn more at : Chi Riding : Pedaling.

Change in saddle/time spent on the bike

Remember you need to build up slowly with any change. Whether that be a new saddle or bike, increases in distance and time on the bike. Building slowly with allow early identification of any chaffing problems and get these resolved before they come a bigger problem and give you body time to adapt to the change..

Hip/Knee/Foot alignment when pedaling. .

How to manage chaffing 

You need to identify whether you may be experiencing any chaffing issues. The best management comes from early detection of any symptoms. Next – try to determine what might be the cause of the chaffing/rubbing. Sometimes the cause can be a very subtle issue so it is important to go through and identify all possible causes or eliminate them. You may find you need to make more than one change to solve the problem. If you have symptoms it is important to take steps to heal the symptoms and manage the time on the bike so your symptoms do not get worse.

Using Chamois Creams

Chamois Creams work in 3 ways.

One: you can use as a barrier to prevent any onset of chaffing. This is particularly relevant if you are new to cycling, trying to build up distances quickly or “breaking in” a new saddle (getting used to the shape and where the saddle contacts your body). They are also very effective in prevention if you who are planning long rides and/or repeated days of riding.

Two: use to soothe tenderness or burning that may have resulted from riding. This will help ease your symptoms but remember it is very important that you address the cause of the chaffing.

Three: Chamois creams often contain healing agents that will help heal the problems that are a result of chaffing.

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