Your saddle is a very important contact point with your bike.  It should provide the support & comfort you need to ride for as long as you like. Problems with your tailbone can really restrict you from enjoying your bike.

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What Causes Tailbone Discomfort?

Soft saddles are meant for short distances.  If you have a lot of cushioning or poor quality padding this may actually be causing the problem.  As you ride further and are seated for longer – it usually takes around 30 to 45mins – a soft saddle allows your body too sink too far.  This means structures like your tailbone that are not meant to make contact with the saddle will.

This sinking is more likely to lead to tailbone issues for upright riders with a straight back, weight will be transferred directly down and as the soft padding becomes compressed the tailbone comes into contact with the saddle and begins to take weight.

Another outcome of spending longer on the bike can also be a tired and collapsing body position.  If you are not maintaining a flat lower back but tucking under or rounding this changes the mechanics of where your tailbone will be situated.  Again, like the sinking into the soft padding, this collapsing of your body shape allows the tailbone to make contact with the saddle.

Finally the width and shape of your saddle has a role to play.  Your sit bones need a good flat platform for contact directly underneath them.  If your saddle is too narrow and has a rounded shape that allows your sit bones to “fall” off the edges, the structure of your seat will be much closer to your tail bone.

 

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Your tailbone is not meant to take weight so if it is in contact with the saddle this will lead to discomfort.

How to Reduce Tailbone Problems

Saddle Set Up – how your saddle is set up effects your ability to sit on it.  Make some adjustments to see if you can help resolve your issue.  Firstly check that your saddle is level and not nose up.  Please read…  Saddle Position – Height, Tilt and Reach

Saddle Shape – what is known as a channel will definitely help alleviate tailbone issues.  This is a central depression running from the back to the front of the saddle.  The very rear shape of the saddle can also play a role.  An inverted V shape gives space to your tailbone.  Also having the correct width so that your sit bones are the bones that are taking weight.

Saddle Padding – soft, well padded saddles suit short distances.  If you have increased your riding time and started to experience tailbone problems this may be because you are sinking too far into your saddle, usually around 30-45 minutes into the ride.  A saddle with a flatter surface and less padding or gel padding is a better choice for endurance riding.

Core Strength – the stronger your core is the better your body position will be over time on the bike. it is really important to check in with your body position and make adjustments to maintain a good ‘A’ shape.

Other Ways to Improve Comfort

To follow is a short list of suggestions that you can choose to explore or ignore.  For weight transfer issues that cause pressure, bruising or discomfort:

  • Be very mindful of your body position and shifting it when riding
  • Improve the strength of your core muscles and legs
  • Lose weight; get bags or packs off your back and acknowledge that if you are over weight this will be adding to your problem
  • Let a small amount of air out of your tyres on bumpy surfaces this allows the tyre to absorb some of the impact 
  • Get up out of your saddle (stand on your pedals) when going over bumps, dips or uneven surfaces
  • Choose shorter rides
  • Choose rides with varying terrain which will change your bodies experience during the ride

Correct technique is a large part of being comfortable when you ride

Comfort & Contact Points

Your comfort while riding is a huge part of enjoying your time on the bike.  It will also keep you protected & safe.  There are three key points where you make contact with your bike.  The seat, the handlebars and the pedals.  It is important to understand how to position your body between these points

For more information see the following stories:

  • ‘A’ Body Position on the Bike
  • Correct Pedalling Technique
  • Comfort at Your Contact Points when Mountain Biking 

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