What is a Saddle Sore and 10 Top Tips To Avoid Them

 Any cyclist will tell you that saddle sores are an occupational hazard. Despite a comfortable saddle, bib shorts, a bike fit and a spot of chamois cream, it is inevitable that at some point in time you will experience a saddle sore. There are a couple of things that you can do to reduce the risk of experiencing a painful saddle sore.
Image credit: Cycling Weekly


What is a saddle sore?


First and foremost, what is a saddle sore? It depends on who you ask, but there are several different definitions of a saddle sore.


In simple terms, a saddle sore is an irritation of skin that is in direct contact with the chamois of your cycling shorts and indirect contact with your saddle. In some cases the sore may simply be an irritation of the skin and this would cause the surrounding areas to go red, similar to a pimple.


The skin may then start chafing and could become broken or raw which can be quite painful. Another possibility to consider is that a saddle sore may be the result of an ingrown hair or possibly even a boil. No matter what ‘type of saddle sore’ you have, they are painful and best avoided as far as possible.


Without delving further into the medical technicalities in this blog post, there are a number of simple things that you can do to reduce the risk of developing a saddle sore.


Ten top tips to reduce the risk of a saddle sore:


1. Invest in a good pair of cycling shorts. Spend as much as you are able to afford (within reason) and make sure they fir your body shape and size well. If possible, rather get bib shorts as opposed to normal cycling shorts because these are designed to hold the chamois in place better. Less movement means less chance of chafe.


2. Before using a new pair of cycling shorts, give them a wash to help the fabrics ‘settle’ and then test the shorts on a couple of shorter rides first so that you can get used to them.


3. Get a bike fit, your position on the bike may not be correct and this is an important starting point. A bike fit can help ensure that your saddle is at a minimum the correct height and eliminate any unnecessary side to side movement.

Image credit: Science to Sport


4. Depending on your bike fit, you may need to consider a new saddle. A reputable bike fitter will be able to suggest correct sizing and types of saddle to suit your anatomy.


5. Use a good chamois cream. Naturally we are biased and would suggest ASS MAGIC, not without good reason though. We use beeswax and lanolin to ensure the cream has great anti-chafe properties. Zinc oxide is another key ingredient which promotes healing should you have a problem. Next time you have a tub, open it up and give it a smell – the scent of tea tree (a great anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent) is prevalent and it is a key ingredient.


6. Before applying your chamois cream, wash your hands and avoid the double dip.



7. Hot, sunny day? Suncream before bumcream!


8. After your race or training ride try get out of your kit as soon as possible and have a bath or shower. Hygiene is of critical importance.


9. Spend some time in the saddle. If you have done little to no training and then head out for an endurance ride, it’s quite likely that you will experience discomfort. Gradually building up your time in the saddle will ensure that body becomes used to the time in the saddle.


10. If the saddle sore persists it may be worth consulting your doctor for professional medical advice.


For our ladies, it is also worth noting that ASS MAGIC is pH friendly for you.


The long and the short of it is that it doesn’t matter how you define a saddle sore. They can be painful and if you follow these tips you will go a long way in avoiding them!