The pelvis

SQlab-Becken-mit-Schambeinbogen-2015-USWhen sitting normally, the sitbones (red highlighted areas) support the body‘s weight and have the capability to withstand high pressure. This should also be the case when riding a bicycle.
With an athletic riding position, the perineal area of men and the lower positioned pubic bone arch of women (yellow and green highlighted areas) rest on the saddle.
The well branched out network of nerves and blood vessels of the perineal area reaches from the anus via the genitals to the upper pubic bone arch. On the sides it reaches past the pubic bones. These are capable of carrying a small weight – but a pressure reduction is essential. An even pressure reduction in the perineal area and the pubic bones is achieved through the lowered nose of our SQlab step saddle concept.

Pressure mapping

How is pressure mapping on a saddle performed?
A pressure mapping foil with sensors is placed on the saddle. As soon as the rider gets on the saddle, the pressure is mapped with approx. 100 pressure mapping sensors and the result sent to a computer. Thanks to the remote transmitter, the pressure mapping can be performed statically in the lab on a trainer or dynamically in real life on the trail. The pressure distribution is displayed by colour: blue represents low pressure, then the pressure rises from turquoise through green, yellow, orange to red.

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A too soft saddle

SQlab Becken mit Muskeln und Sehnen 2015 US

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.

Text Regel zu weicher Sattel US

The sitting position

SQlab-The sitting positionWhen sitting, the sitbones (areas marked in red) serve the purpose of supporting the body’s weight, hence they can endure a high load and pressure. They should also be utilised in this way when riding a bike.
In a dynamic riding position the contact point moves from the tip of the sitbones, forwards along the pubic arch to the pubic bone and the central perineal area is used for resting on for both genders. Women however, typically have a lower pubic arch which can result in higher pressure from the saddle nose when riding in a dynamic riding position. The surface area the riders weight is resting on is especially critical in a very dynamic and forward riding position and in such a case the riders weight should not only be supported in the centre but also on the pubic bone.

The sitbone and pubic bones both come together from their widest points in a “V” shape. This means the more dynamic the riding position, the narrower the saddle is allowed to, and should be.
Already in 2002 we developed a simple equation which uses the distance of the sitbone tips in dependence of the riding positing to calculate the perfect saddle width. This method has meanwhile been established globally. The method may be interpreted slightly differently from different saddle manufacturers and many leave the adjustment equation away all together, but our basic concept is used in all of these measuring methods.

The flexibility of the spine has much less influence on the positioning of the pelvis as often assumed. Spine and pelvis should remain in a natural position relative to each other and not be forced into a certain position, even if the body is very flexible.

Especially with the SQlab step saddle it is no longer necessary to tilt the pelvis backwards as the typical pressure zone of the perineal area and pelvis arch no longer pose a problem due to the lowered position of the saddle nose.

The energy which is often reguired to hold the pelvis upright while the upper body taks a dynamic and forward position is no longer required with the SQlab step saddle and can instead be used for pedalling and propelling the bike forward.
In addition, there is substantially less load on the spinal discs.

Text Regel Sitzpositionen US

The difference between men & women

SQlab-Becken-Mann-und-Frau-2015-USThe pelvis of men and women differ due to the fact that women’s pelvis need to be able to facilitate giving birth. For us however, the contact to the saddle is of interest – and here, the difference is less than often assumed.
The concept we have developed to measure the sitbone distance provides us with interesting findings. Meaningful statistics about the sitbone distance as relevant for a bicycle saddle were previously not available. Internet research on the topic of sitbones yields information about German Shepherds, but barely any information about humans. The statistics we have developed over the years show that the sitbone distance in men lies between 6 cm and 16 cm and in women between 9 cm and 17 cm.
The previously rarely considered anatomical difference of women’s generally lower positioned pubic bone arch often leads to high pressure experienced on the saddle nose.
There are many women with a narrow sitbone distance and many men with a large sitbone distance. A professional sitbone measurement performed by a trained SQlab dealer simplifies the correct saddle selection and makes multiple test rides unnecessary. Different saddles for men and women are no longer needed with the SQlab concept! The lowered saddle nose relieves the typical problem zone of men, the perineal area and about 2 cm further forward the pressure point between the female pubic bone and saddle nose. (The difference between men and women with only just 2 cm is much smaller than often assumed.)

Research about women specific saddles
The German Sport University Cologne has performed research on women with pressure mapping and two different saddle types (Gel saddle and saddle with cut-out) in various different riding positions. None of the tested saddles showed a satisfactory relieve in the area pf the pubic bone arch / saddle nose. The results concur with our own research performed in our own SQ-lab. The SQlab saddle width system in combination with the lowered saddle nose of the SQlab step saddle is hence not only first choice for men, but also relieves the typical pressure points women experience. This leads to the conclusion that women specific saddles based on a different shape and seating position of men and women are no longer necessary.

One of the few research studies on women and bicycle saddles

Conclusion:
The bike saddle with a hole (control) distributes pressure over a smaller surface, with high pressure at the sides of the hole.
Therefore not only did the saddle with a hole not change the amount of pressure on the central part of the saddle, it centralised it in an area, which can potentially cut blood and lymphatic supply to a woman’s outer genitalia. On the control saddle (Fig. 14) high pressures can occur on the sides of the hole, therefore compressing parts of the Labia Majora (shown in red). In the central part of saddle, the Labia Majora gets caught in the middle of the hole. Compression over a limited portion at the centre of each Labium could damage the skin and the lymphatic system, compress the nerves or cut blood supply to the rest of the Labium falling in the middle of the hole. This does not happen on the flat saddle with gel.

Women’s bike seats: a pressing matter for competitive female cyclists
Marsha K. Guess, MD,1 Sarah N. Partin, BA,2 Steven Schrader, PhD,3 Brian Lowe, PhD,3 Julie LaCombe, MD,4 Susan Reutman, PhD,3 Andrea Wang, MD,5 Christine Toennis, BS,3 Arnold Melman, MD,6 Madgy Mikhail, MD,7 and Kathleen A. Connell, MD1

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4343541/

Conclusion:
Cut-out and narrower saddles negatively affect saddle pressures in female cyclists. Effects of saddle design on pudendal nerve sensory function were not apparent in this cross-sectional analysis. Longitudinal studies evaluating the long-term effects of saddle pressure on the integrity of the pudendal nerve, pelvic floor and sexual function are warranted.


SQlab WebInlineImage Becken Frau USPressure pubic bone / saddle nose

The problem is common amongst women! The low positioned female pubic bone presses onto the saddle nose.

Solution:

  • The SQlab step saddle with lowered saddle nose reduces the pressure evenly.

  • Tilting the saddle forward achieves the same outcome – the rider however, will slide forward into the narrow part of the saddle.

  • A more upright riding position lifts the pubic bone.

Important: check again the saddle width!

Familiarization of the sitbones

The sitbones 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 sitbones 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.

Text Regel und Achtung Gewoehnung Sitzknochen US

Numbness of the genitals

SQlab WebInlineImage Becken Mann USNumbness often appears as a symptom for compressed nerves and/or reduced blood flow in the perineal area.

Special nerves and blood vessels in the perineal area of men are responsible for the erection. If the blood supply to these is reduced or they are compressed for any extended periods of time, this can lead to reduced sexual performance. This process is reversible, as after a longer period off the bike this process is usually reversed and the usual sexual performance returns.

 


Caution! The problem can become chronical. Numbness is an alarm signal! Those who listen to their body can minimise the risks so that the positive effects of training prevail. Cycling is a fantastic heart-circulation-training and hence improves sexual performance.

 


What has science got to say to it all?
Scientific studies have shown that athletes generally suffer less from erectile dysfunction (ED) than non-athletes. Results of several research studies lead to the conclusion that approx. 6 – 10% of all men between 30 and 50 years of age suffer from moderate to severe ED. A very meaningful research study amongst athletes has shown that 1.1% of runners suffer from moderate to severe ED, 2% of swimmers and 4.2% of cyclists. Assuming that the positive effects of cycling are at least comparable to those of running, 3.1% of cyclists experience impairment instead of an improvement, which can be up to critical. But it does not always have to come to the worst – the sexual performance rises and sinks just like the muscle power and endurance. With rising age however, it decreases disproportionally. It therefore makes sense to partake in sports activities, especially cycling, but with care to use an anatomically correct saddle. It would be a real shame if the positive effects were nullified through the use of an incorrect saddle.
Source: (Huang V, Munarriz R, Goldstein I., Institute for Sexual Medicine, Department of Urology, Boston University School of Medicine, 720 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118, USA., Sep. 2005)

Scientific studies about bike saddles

Solutions:
Measure the sitbone distance in order to ensure the saddle is not too narrow. The SQlab step saddle concept spreads the body weight according to medical aspects. A maximised seating area ensure the sitbones can bear the majority of the body weight, the perineal area and the pressure sensitive areas of the pubic bone / saddle nose are evenly and relieved.


General tips on numbness:

  • Ride in a more upright positio
  • Ride out of the saddle more often
  • Avoid riding with a heavy backpack
  • More pedal pressure reduced the pressure from the saddle
  • Reduce body weight – reduces pressure from the saddle
  • Use a thinner saddle padding
  • Sit as far back as possible on the widest part of the saddle
  • Tilt the front of the saddle down slightly
  • Optimise geometry (SQlab recommends Body Scanning CRM)

The spine

thumb SQBiker RRThe human gait
The description of the human gait has always been a fascinating topic. The amount of available information is huge and numerous studies have analysed this topic in great detail. One thing is for sure, evolution has provided us with an ingenious system with which, if it is not damaged, we can move forward with ease. The important basis however, is three muscle loops: two placed longitudinally and one diagonally. With their fasciae and tendon systems they have the ability to take up and store energy.
The thoracolumbar fasciae links the contralateral shoulder muscles with the gluteal muscles, which stretch all the way down to the lower leg and foot. In short, on every stride, the muscle loop system is stretched; energy is stored, and again released in the next stride. Throughout this process, we hardly need to add any muscle energy. If we, for example, just stroll along in an uncoordinated manner, the loops are not supplied with sufficient energy. This could be a reason as to why many of us experience going shopping as exhausting. In the search of unbelievable running speed of Usain Bolt 1), researchers have focussed on the long tendons which are able to catapult him forwards with incredible speed when tensioned.

Why is this of importance for cycling?
Only a biomechanically correct gait makes use of the system of contralateral interconnection. To provide for this, a correct rocking movement of the pelvis is absolutely essential. This horizontal movement is achieved with our SQlab active saddle technology.
With a fixed pelvis position in the sagittal plane when on a bike, pain in the lower lumbar spine, the pelvis and the hips are to be expected, as our musculoskeletal system is not designed for this movement.

The Spinal Discs
The spinal discs consist of an outer annulus fibrosis and a gelatine-like core. The core has the ability to bind water and through the swelling pressure it provides an excellent buffer function.

Excessive physical load
Our spinal discs have no blood supply. They feed by diffusion and the principle of a sponge. A mix of alternating load and relief keeps them alive. Unfavourable continuous high loads however cause the cells to die.

1) Usain Bolt (* 21. August 1986 in Trelawney Parish) is a Jamaican sprinter
triple Olympic champion and world record holder in 100 and 200 m sprints.
With a world record time of 9.58 seconds (August 2010) he is the only human to have
covered the 100 meter distance in under 9.6 seconds.
He stands 1.95 m tall and has a competition weight of 86 kg.
(Source: www.wikipedia.de)

Pressure on the tailbone

SQlab WebInlineImage Becken Frau Steissbein USThis is a problem primarily experienced by women as the female tailbone is more flexible and commonly also more sensitive than the male tailbone.

When in a very upright position, the tailbone can be very close to the saddle. In combination with a too soft or too narrow saddle this can lead to discomfort and pain.

The pelvis is held together by ligaments. When there is tension in the pelvis, these ligaments can excert a high strain to the tailbone. Riding completely tension-free is made possible by the 600 active.

More free space

thumb SQ Stufensattel US CMYKNumbness occurs as nerves are compressed and/or are receiving reduced blood flow in the perineum area. The corresponding body part cannot be felt correctly and is perceived as numb. The problem can become chronic.

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Painful sitbones

SQlab WebInlineImage 3 Ursachen US
thumb SQ Becken zu schmaler SattelThe 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.

SQlab Presssure surface area

 


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

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




 

Prostate problems

If you have a prostate problem see a doctor!

Sattel 600activeImportant:

Reduce the pressure to the prostate as much as possible.
If you experience a prostate inflammation it is important to prevent any pressure to the perineal area. If you have had prostate surgery cycling is only recommended after a certain time – if at all – and with a saddle like the SQlab 600 active.

Interesting facts:
The prostate is a gland which often grows for the entire lifetime. This is why the older men become the more likely they are to have issues with it.

 


Our expert for bicycle relatet issues is always happy to help:

Urologist Dr. Stefan Staudte
MVZ, Medicenter, OEZ

Hours (Europe):
Mo-Fr: 8.00 – 12.00
Mo, Di, Do: 15.00 – 18.00
and per appointment
Phone: +49-(0)89-14 99 02-36
Fax: +49-(0)89-14 99 02-40


www.dr-staudte.de
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