Numbness, power, and position

Hi all,

I just started TR last week and have completed my fifth base-building workout. My most recent workout, Antelope, instructed me to try riding in a more aero position.

I was happy to find out that I was actually able to put out more power in an aero position. However, my genitals got very numb and I had to stand up a few times during each interval. The instructions later had me try to anchor my sit bones, doing so required me to severely curve my back and reduced my power; the numbness did go away slightly.

Here are some details on my aero position:

  • Hands are on hoods
  • Elbows are at 90º angle and close to my body
  • Back is flat from tailbone to top of the neck (I think this helps open my hip angle)
  • My sitbones are usually at the widest point of the saddle, but there may not be enough support on the wings.
  • May be unrelated, but I noticed when I pedal I have a lot of pressure on the outside of the cleats; I had to actively bring my legs closer together to get the pressure even on the cleats. Is this the q-factor people talk about?

Is there anyway I can have my cake and eat it too, i.e. be aero in a position I like without having to curve my back? Would it make sense to get a saddle with a cut out to deal with the numbness?

Thanks all!

I have four words for you:

Get a bike fit. :smile:

Ok, in slightly more detail…

Answer to the first question is “yes”. Answer to the second question is “maybe”.

I was in the same situation as you - riding on a Fizik Arione, but finding that it put too much pressure on my soft tissue. They switched me to a Specialized Romin Evo saddle and the difference has been night and day. I’m now doing long rides, and racing with long periods in the drops, without any numbness or saddle sores.

It also enabled me to sit on the saddle with my hips tipped forward and a straighter back, whereas before - like you - I had to roll my hips back and curve my lower back to keep my sit bones connected to the saddle.

Doesn’t mean that saddle is necessarily right for you, but a bike fit - especially one with saddle pressure mapping - will find one that works for your behind. The point is, don’t just assume that a particular saddle is the one you need, and definitely don’t trust other people’s reviews. Their bodies and their bums are different to yours. Even if you don’t get a bike fit, the important thing is to just try them out. Some brands have a 30 day return so you can do a few rides on the trainer with each one and take it back if it’s not working.

Poor cleat position / shoe fit can be very much related to saddle comfort. At the very least, a bike fit will get your cleats in the right place. Ideally, get a bike fit that gives you customised insoles. It really evens out the pressure on your foot, and gives you a stable platform that makes you less likely to move about on the saddle.

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Switching to an ISM saddle has stopped the numbness when in the aero position for me. Managed to pick one up off eBay, so it wasn’t a pricy upgrade.

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Often an improper position on the bike leads to issues who may manifest themselves at the saddle, but that doesn’t mean that the actual issue is the saddle. If you get a good bike fit, the same saddle which might give you issues at first, migth end up being a good saddle in that position. While a saddle which may solve numbness in your current issue, might be not comfortable in your new position.
Having said that, saddles with a pressure relieve channel probably usually aren’t a bad idea… but I would indeed start with getting a proper bike fit, as said before.

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Addition to bikefit and saddle type, I also strongly recommend to check the type of Bib you are using. Make sure it fits perfectly.

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Thank you! I did get a bike fit done several months ago, but I should get back in there for a refresh. That said, does anyone know if a Retul fit is worth it? The fit I got was a standard one offered by the shop that sold me the bike.

Thanks! I’ve been told look into ISM, I’ll see if there’s a shop nearby that allows me to try them out.

As a fitter, and mentioned by others here, the most important aspect of a fit is the fitter… not their tools (like Retul).

Their base knowledge, listening skills, openness to your contributing info, their observation skills and the ability to blend all of that together is what makes a fitter “good”, but more importantly successful with regards to meeting the rider’s needs.

My point is to pay more attention to the fitter and how they work with you vs the tools they use. A $10,000 Retul or Guru system is no guarantee of a good fit if the one running it is not doing the right steps for you.

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Got it and thank you!

To add some info, saddle selection (and/or proper setup of an existing saddle) is often useful in addressing numbness. With lower and rotated hip, you generally want to look for a something with a cutout, and forward rotation of the wings to address the hip angle.

The Specialized Power and similar saddles are worth a look. They are designed to address the loading on the soft tissue with better distribution. These are common for use with a very low and forward position on a road bike.

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Thanks! I’m looking at the Power and Evo Romin right now, hoping to try them out today.

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You can sometimes find them cheap on ebay. I used one for awhile that I think I paid ~$35. Watch their set up video on the website though. They are set up different than most other saddles and it can be tricky.

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