Riding a bicycle is a pretty popular activity, especially for adventurous people. It’s also a favorite sport among the fitness and health community as bike riding helps to burn calories. But, there’s one thing that causes issues in many cyclists, and that is butt pain.
Usually, it happens because of unaccustomed seat pressures, but there can be other reasons as well. How long does seat pain last? And, how long until bike seat stops hurting?
In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about this matter and how you can solve this issue to enjoy riding without worrying about potential pain.
Saddle Soreness vs Butt Pain
We’re sure these two sound familiar, and you probably interchange them when you’re speaking, but they are different.
Butt pain, or bike seat pain, is a temporary problem and lasts for a short time. It’s a common thing, especially for beginning cyclists. Their bodies take time to adjust to the position and change in stance. Hence, most beginners experience the butt ache stage until their bodies get used to cycling.
It doesn’t mean seat pain is limited to beginners, though. A lot of professional cyclists experience sore butts, too. The pain usually comes after seat readjustments or after getting a new bike.
Conversely, saddle soreness is a long-term problem. It is a medical condition that builds up gradually when you ride for a long time (e.g., many years). It also affects other body parts, like your hip, crotch, back, and sometimes neck.
The only good thing about this is that it takes years to build up. So, chances are you’re safe from it. Still, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if the pain does not subside. Early stage avoidance can get you into more trouble later.
The big difference between these two is the build-up and the lasting time. So, if you’re worried about how you’re going to differentiate between them, think about how long the pain has been there.
Why Are You Getting Bike Saddle Pain?
Bike seat pain can happen for many reasons, but the most common reason is bike saddle problems. Other than saddles, you can experience saddle soreness because of your posture or riding time.
Here is a more detailed discussion on why you can get a sore butt after cycling.
Regular cycling hardens your gluteal and hip muscles, but that takes longer. When you first start riding a bicycle, your body is still adjusting to the changes, and your muscles are softer than they should be. This is why your butt hurts every time you ride a bicycle when you’ve just started your cycling life.
Luckily, it doesn’t take long for your body to catch up. The faster you cycle, the more your body adjusts to your saddle and gets in cycling shape, so all you have to do is get used to riding to eliminate the pain.
Long Bike Ride
We get it… riding is fun, and it gets even better if it is a long ride. But, along bike ride doesn’t mean you’ll have to keep cycling for the whole time because long rides without any breaks can cause you debilitating butt pain.
Riding your bike is an excellent exercise, but it can do more harm than good if you’re pushing yourself too much, just like any other exercise. Riding for too long without stopping or changing positions puts a lot of pressure on your supporting structure. It also amplifies your bike seat pain.
Your body was designed to bend from the waist, not your hips. But, bike riding positions use your hip as a bending point. Long rides without breaks put a lot of pressure on your hip, and your body tries to balance it out by putting some of the pressure on your spine and neck.
Longer rides also mean putting pressure on your lower body parts for longer and more sweating. You’ll also have reduced blood flow and ventilation for the time, which will affect your legs and, if you aren’t cautious enough, your lungs as well.
Incorrect Riding Posture and Sit Bones
Your sitting style balances the whole riding process. Incorrect riding posture or sitting style can cause your sit bones to hurt after rides.
The most common mistake people make while riding their bikes is positioning with the handlebar. Most people hold on to the handlebar and put total weight on their hands.
So, in essence, they’re riding their bikes with their upper body. It’s a natural posture that no one thinks of fixing, but it can hurt you badly in the long run.
Another mistake people make is not checking the handlebar and seat height. If your seat is too high, your body distributes your weight unevenly, and you feel most of it on your sacral promontory.
On the other hand, a low set seat increases the chances of muscle pulls and lower body or butt pain and can cause worse injuries if you aren’t careful.
Wrong Bike Fit
If your bike isn’t fitted correctly and has the wrong saddle height or position, you’ll feel extreme seat pain, and it can last for a while, too. An incorrect fit usually places your butt in contact with your saddle.
It puts pressure on your sit bones and makes your body align with the back wheel instead of having it contact the ground. This increases the possibility of you getting seat pain.
Bad Clothing Choices
You must have seen people wear specific bike shorts and other clothing items made for riding. But, did you know fashion isn’t the only reason behind them?
You’re supposed to have five layers between your saddle and your sit bones when you’re riding. Ideally, these five layers should be your bike shorts, muscle, fat tissues, skin, and lubrication.
Most beginning cyclists usually only have three layers because they skip the bike shorts. Eliminating your bike shorts reduces the layers between the saddle and the sit bones. It puts extra pressure on your sit bones and causes chafing, another possible cause of sit bone pain.
Bike shorts are more crucial for beginners because their muscles are still soft since they haven’t gotten used to cycling yet. Padded shorts act like a barrier and serve as a cushion while your butt gets into cycling shape over time.
Saddle issues are the most common reason for bike seat pain. Saddle issues include:
- Bad fit
- Wrong saddle
- Too much softness in the saddle
- Lack of saddle padding
Here is a more detailed dive into saddle issues.
When you ride your bike, your weight on the saddle is carried by your sit bones (the two small bumps under your butt). Your harness needs to be wide enough to fit your sit bones perfectly for a comfortable ride.
If your saddle is too narrow, all your weight will be shifted to your sit bones, which won’t just cause deeper sores but back pain as well.
However, if your saddle is too wide, the pressure spreads to your whole crotch area instead of staying focused on the sit bones. Riding in this position for a long time will hurt your entire lower region and increase the chances of saddle soreness.
Saddle positioning is very important to ensure you don’t get frequent back pain or a sore butt. Your bike saddle should be level and standing up straight. If angled at even a few degrees, your back will take the total strain and cause horrendous pain.
If your saddle is leaning forward or backward more than it should be, it will misalign your riding posture and cause pain. If it is leaning forward too much, you’ll be losing balance and slipping off of your seat, putting too much pressure on your hands to balance it out.
Again, if it is leaning backward, then you’ll slip off the back of your seat and will need to put more pressure on your lower body to balance it out. Both of these are equally harmful and cause significant body damage.
Saddle Shape and Softness
Another cause for sore butts is the saddle shape not being compatible with your bike or your sit bone width.
Saddles are usually long and thin or short and thick, so you’ll have to pick the kind that suits you best. There are special saddles with cutouts geared to relieve inflammation, so those are also an option.
Interestingly enough, saddles that are too soft can also cause problems. If the foam is too soft, then your butt sinks more in the seat, putting extra pressure on your lower body.
How Long Until Bike Seat Stops Hurting?
A while, if we’re being honest. Usually, the beginner butt ache stage lasts until the bicycle rider gets used to cycling, which can take 5-10 rides.
If you’re an experienced rider, and the pain starts suddenly, it might last a day or two unless the issue is coming from your bike parts. Then the pain will last until you get the problem fixed.
What Can You Do to Alleviate Bike Saddle Pain?
First, you’ll have to figure out why you’re getting sore butts from your rides. If you’re a beginner, you’ll have to stick it out for the first couple of rides to let your body get used to riding (which usually takes a few weeks).
If you’re an experienced bike rider, you’ll have to either take periodic rests or fix something, depending on the cause.
Since there’s no definite answer to how long until the bike seat stops hurting, let’s see what you can do to alleviate it.
Reduce Saddle Time
Long bike rides without breaks put more pressure on your body. Remember to take breaks between riding and never ride for more than one hour without taking a break. It will give your body more time to reset and adjust.
Change Position Frequently
Another thing you can do on long rides is changing your riding position every few minutes. Stand up on your paddle every few minutes to give your butt a break.
If you’re riding on flat terrain, you should stand up on the pedals every 15 minutes and ride for at least 30 seconds. It’s not a fixed frame, though. You can work around and find out what works better for you. Just make sure you aren’t staying in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
Wear Padded Shorts
We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: wearing outfits made explicitly for riding helps immensely with the soreness. So if you’re still not wearing padded bike shorts, this is the time to start doing it.
Padded shorts come with special padding designed to help you out with lower body pain. They also add an extra layer between your bicycle saddle and your sit bones.
These will help you to maintain the five layers you should have between your sit bone and the saddle so you’ll feel less pain. They also act as a support for the first few weeks while your butt accustomed to it.
Use Chamois Cream
Chamois is a type of bike short, and chamois cream is a lubricant bicycle riders use with their shorts. This lubricant reduces friction and sweat in your lower body, reducing the chance of chafing.
Less chafing means less soreness, so you can try adding lubricants like this cream to reduce sit bone pain.
Get Softer Saddles
Most of the time, your soreness comes from rigid saddles. If you feel like that’s the case, try making your saddle softer. Customized seat cushions (made especially for leather saddles) make the saddle softer and give you a little extra padding.
You can also get a softer cushioning saddle than the regular ones. But, know that these aren’t good options if you prioritize your riding speed over everything else.
Reposition Your Saddle
Incorrect saddle positioning is the most common cause of butt pain. An uncomfortable saddle can mean it is positioned wrong, so check to see if the saddle is level and straight. If you can’t fix it yourself, head over to your local bike shop and get a customized bike fit.
Do Light Exercises
It’s more of a follow-up, but gentle stretching can help with your butt and lower region pain. Get a comfortable seat and lie down on your back.
Keep your knee pointing upward and your affected leg bent, and do light stretches like this after your rides. It may not completely solve your problem, but it can help to relieve your pain.
If padded shorts, bike fitting, and even posture correction don’t solve the problem, you’ll have to get a new saddle that feels better for you.
So, how long until bike seat stops hurting? It won’t last long if you’re careful enough. Beginner-stage pain usually goes away with time or when the rider starts to wear padded shorts, but it is trickier for experienced riders. Usually, switching to a different saddle or getting a new saddle fitted with the bike helps, but, if the pain keeps increasing, you should consult a doctor.