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Pain in the sit bones when riding a bike?

At the beginning of the season, pain in the sit bones is a common problem. Sit bones get used to the pressure after five or six rides. The decisive factor for the right choice of saddle is:  

  • The individual saddle width, so that the sit bones are lying completely on top. 
  • The right saddle hardness; if a saddle is too soft, the sit bones sink in and the deeper lying, sensitive tissue such as muscle and tendon attachments are irritated.

The larger the area, the lower the pressure.

This physics law implies an advantage for the SQlab step saddle concept. The area does not - like with other ergonomic saddles - need to be reduced in a contra-productive manner with holes and cut-outs.

Pressure= force/surface area

What is the meaning of this with regards to a bicycle saddle?

Pressure = intensity of pain, which should be as low as possible
Force = magnitude determined by body mass and gravitational acceleration
Area = useable surface area of the saddle and cyclist

Causes of painful sit bones 

Saddle too narrow
Saddle too narrow
Saddle with a wrong shape
Saddle with a wrong shape
Saddle too soft
Saddle too soft
Familiarization of the sit bones
Familiarization of the sit bones
Shearing forces
Shearing forces

Saddle to narrow 

Cause - saddle too narrow 

leads to discomfort to the sit bones and an increased pressure on the perineal area

SQlab Solution 

Sit bone measurement to determine the individual saddle width

More performance - less pain 

A saddle should fit like a pair of shoes! If a saddle is too narrow, then it presses exactly in the spots where it shouldn’t. Back in 2002, SQlab was the fi rst saddle manufacturer to introduce a system to measure the distance between the sit bones and to calculate the optimal saddle width. As a result, all SQlab saddle models are available in up to four different widths. 

This guarantees that your sitting bones lie completely flat on the saddle. This is the only way to relieve pressure to the sensitive areas in both men’s and women’s bodies that are aff ected by hard saddles.  >More about the sit bone measurement 

Wrong saddle shape  

Cause - wrong saddle shape 

leads to an increased pressure in the perineal area 

SQlab Solution 

Step Saddle with an optimum pressure distribution in accordance with medical advice

More free space - less pressure!

Persistently high pressure on the perineum expresses less in pain but more in feelings of numbness. However, this alarm signal should always be observed. Even if “deaf” means at first that nothing is felt, so it is not a direct pain that otherwise warns us of dangers for the body.

The pressure on the sit bone can be a little uncomfortable at first – until you get used to it – but it is a sign for the right saddle.  For men who need a little more space, the SQlab step saddle creates more free space and is therefore ideal. >More about the step saddle concept 

Too soft saddle 

Cause - too soft saddle 

leads to sinking sit bones


SQlab Solution 

SQlab saddle models in different saddle firmnesses adapted to riding duration and area of use

Sit bones get used to the load
Deep-seated muscles and tendones are stimulated by soft pads

A too soft saddle usually becomes very uncomfortable after approx. 30 – 45 minutes on the bike.

The sit bones sink in so far, that sensitive soft tissue such as muscle and tendons are aggravated. After approx. 30 – 40 minutes a dull deep pressing pain sets in.
The sinking in of the sit bones also causes the perineal area in men and the lower positioned pubic bone arch in women to be subjected to higher pressure. Specifically, soft padding will effectively stop the blood flow. It is rare that the padding is so soft that the saddle shell causes the discomfort.

SQlab Solution
Soft saddles are generally only suitable for short distances!

Familiarization of the sit bones

Cause - missing familiarization

periosteum, muscle and tendon approaches react irritably 

SQlab Solution

Regular trips with a saddle model adapted to the individual saddle width and driving characteristics 

The sit bones are capable of getting used to a high pressure load and the discomfort will reduce. At the beginning of the season, or when switching to a new unfamiliar saddle shape, pain and discomfort in the sit bones is normal. Familiarization with a new saddle can take approx. 5 to 6 rides.

At least two days of rest should be scheduled between the initial rides to give the already sensitive muscles and tendons time to respond.

SQlab lists the hardness of the padding material on the saddle. We have developed a measurement unit called SQ Shore, which takes into account the combination of both cover and padding materials.

Shearing forces

Cause - Shearing forces 
These are caused by the mutual load of the pedaling motion.

SQlab Solution

Orthopaedic TPE insert to absorb shear forces

Painful sit bones get used to the strain at first, which is quite normal especially in the spring after a long winter break or during the first test drives on the usually unfamiliar SQlab step saddle. 

The pain originates at the periosteum. The pressure is less the problem, rather it is the shear forces caused by the pedaling motion. The slight but constant movement of the pelvis on the saddle provides painful shearing forces on the periosteum. 

The SQlab active technology provides some relief as well as a chamois cream. The best solution are our new pads: The SQ-Pad 11 and SQ-Pad10. >More about  SQ-Pad concept

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