FAQ: Saddle Pain, Soreness, Numbness on the Trainer

Work in Progress: I will be revising this over the week. I will also edit it over time as we adjust the info.

I am making this a summary post to capture some of the common problems and proposed remedies for Saddle Pain, Soreness, Numbness while riding on the Trainer.

Initial info pooled from this thread.


Considerations:

  • Is this the same bike and saddle setup that you use outside?
  • Do you experience issues with this setup outside as well?
  • Or, are your issues only apparent while riding inside?

Possible Solutions:

  • Is your bike properly fit for your needs?

    • Consider a professional bike fit. This should cover things like saddle selection and setup, along with all other aspects of fit that may impact saddle comfort.
  • Are you riding inside like you do outside?

    • Make sure you alter position while inside, similar to how you do outside. This may include subtle fore and aft shifts on the saddle.
    • You can sit more upright on the recovery efforts to shift the loading on your body.
    • Consider regular standing breaks to fully relieve the saddle support tissue. Make a practice of standing every 5-15 minutes for 10-60 seconds each time.
  • Is the bike too static in the trainer?

    • Some riders have found relief from Rocker Plates. These add a varying degree of movement (depending on design and setup) that can alter the loading on the saddle support tissues.
  • Is your saddle appropriately sized & shaped for your needs?

    • There are many different widths and shapes of saddles. Get the width that works for your sit bone spacing, and the shape that suits your pelvic tilt and overall position on the bike
    • Some saddles are flat, curved or blended.
    • Some have cutouts of varying side and others no cutouts.
    • Some have regular length, short noses, or even split noses.
    • Some have different levels of padding. Importantly, don’t assume that more padding is better. The most signification aspect of a saddle is the shape. Get that right and you can have minimal padding in many cases.
    • Often times, more padding leads to too much sinking of the sit bones, that then results in excessive pressure on the soft tissue.
  • Is your saddle positioned for your needs?

    • Make sure the saddle is positioned properly so you naturally go to the appropriate location for best support.
    • This can include fore-aft position, tilt angle, and saddle height.
  • Are you properly located on the saddle?

    • Placing your sit bones on the appropriate part (wider wings) of the saddle to prevent excessive pressure on the soft tissue in the middle.
    • Also make sure you pelvic tilt (fore-aft) is appropriate for your body, bike setup, and saddle selection. Differences in these may lead to certain combinations working well or poorly.
  • Are your bibs/sorts sufficient?

    • Make sure you have a quality pair of bibs/shorts.
    • Avoid using the old and lower tier models and brands.
    • Consider using your best bibs/shorts while on the trainer. This can help accommodate for the differences of riding inside on the trainer vs outside.
    • Be willing to try different brands, because the some work well for one person while they are not the best for everyone.

Related AACC Podcast on saddle pain.

Bit of a tangent, but an active discussion on Saddle Sores that covers a wide range of considerations that parallel this issue:

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This is an awesome resource, Chad! Thanks for putting this together! :raised_hands:

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Happy to do it. I have lots more to add, but it’s a start.

I am trying to get to address some of the more common issues and questions with posts like this.

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I have uneven sit bones is that normal?

The left hand side of my under carriage feels sharper and more protruding. It’s funny how being uncomfortable can really sap your energy and motivation.

I have not heard of it. In general, our bodies are not perfectly symmetrical anyway, but some differences are more significant and can lead to issues as a result.

Yours may be enough to cause that problem and may require some out of the box thinking to resolve.

How do you decide when things are “good enough” with saddle fit? My “A” event is 206 miles with an estimated time on the bike between 9 and 10 hours. I rode it in 2017 using a Giant Contact Forward SL and overall felt okay on the saddle, had enough pain in left my foot that I can’t remember any saddle pain. I got a new Venge this fall and it has a Specialized Power saddle. In some ways it feels more comfortable and I’ve now put somewhere around 2000 miles on the saddle, mostly on the trainer with no major issues. I’ve done two trainer rides that were 3.5hrs long and saddle seemed okay with those extended sessions. Without actually riding 9 hours how do you ensure that you’ve optimized fit so that you don’t get a surprise 6 hours in?

I’ve had two different bike fits, one using each saddle, and felt like they spent very little time on the actual saddle itself. My local shop doesn’t have a huge selection of saddles and even with their trial saddles I feel like I can sit on almost anything for an hour without it seeming too bad. Without spending hundreds of dollars and weeks of trial and error on each saddle how do you know that you’re really on the “best” saddle for your anatomy?

Do you have uneven sit bones, or do you maybe have a wider disparity between left and right that is being reflected in your sit bones? Maybe one side of your pelvis is rotated higher than the other because one femur is longer than the other.

  • You do your best to evaluate in distances and times shorter than your A-event, but longer than your “typical” ride. There is no way to guarantee unless you do the full distance and the same intensity, and that is a no-go for obvious reasons.

  • Time on the trainer generally shows more issues than out on the road, especially in shorter time frames. So I think you are likely covering the bases well according to your comments above.

  • You try to find friends and other riders with spare saddles that didn’t work for them and give them a shot. Even with our great saddle pressure mapper, final and “best” saddle fit is a guessing game. One with a bit more info, but a still guessing game.

  • Some saddle manufacturers (Spec and Bontrager) have 30-day free return policies, with the idea of allowing you to ride something and really learn if it works or not, for your needs. If you have access to shops with brands offering that policy, that is another option.