Cycling is a fantastic form of exercise and transportation. However, it’s not uncommon to experience butt pain and discomfort, especially when you first start cycling regularly. Here’s a comprehensive guide on why your butt hurts after cycling and what you can do to prevent and treat soreness in your backside.
What Causes Butt Hurts after Cycling
There are a few key causes of butt pain after cycling:
Poor Bike Fit
An improperly fitted bike puts extra pressure on your sit bones and soft tissues. Key bike fit issues that can cause pain include:
- Saddle too high or low
- Saddle too far forward or back
- Handlebars too far away or too close
Unpadded or Improperly Fitted Saddle
Most stock bike seats are too narrow and have little to no padding. This pressure on a small surface area can irritate your skin and compress nerves and blood vessels.
An improperly fitted saddle can also cause chafing in your inner thighs and put pressure on sensitive tissues.
Overuse and Overexertion
When you first start cycling, your butt isn’t used to spending long periods of time on a bike seat. Riding for extended distances or pushing yourself too hard too soon can overwork your muscles and soft tissues, leading to microtears and inflammation.
Poor Cycling Form and Technique
Shifting your weight improperly, pedaling with too much force, or staying seated the entire ride puts more pressure on your rear. Proper form and techniques like standing periodically can take the load off your backside.
Hard or Slick Surfaces
Bumpy trails, concrete roads, and hard saddles transmit more vibration and impact to your derrière. Moisture from sweat can also reduce traction and rubbing.
Symptoms of Butt Pain From Cycling
Common sensations and symptoms include:
- General soreness, tenderness, and a bruised feeling in your glutes, sit bones, and perineum
- Burning or stinging around your anus and inner thighs
- Numbness or tingling in your genitals and buttocks
- Chafing, chapping, blisters, sores, and welts on your skin
- Shooting or radiating pain down your legs (sciatica)
- Muscle tightness and spasms in your glutes and hamstrings
- Swelling around your tailbone and soft tissues
The discomfort usually starts during or right after a ride but may worsen over the next few days. Severe or ongoing pain, numbness, and nerve symptoms warrant an exam by your doctor.
How to Prevent Butt Soreness When Cycling
Making a few key adjustments can significantly reduce your risk of butt pain when riding:
Get a Proper Bike Fit
Getting professionally fitted ensures your seat height, fore/aft position, handlebar height, and reach are dialed for your body and riding style. This takes the pressure off soft tissues.
Choose a High Quality, Padded Saddle
Look for seats with grooves, cutouts, gel padding, and a wider rear profile to suit your sit bones. Softer saddles reduce pressure but tend to cause chafing.
Stand Up Periodically
Getting off the saddle every 5-10 minutes lets blood flow return to compressed areas. Standing also works different muscles.
Upgrade Your Shorts and Pads
Well-padded cycling shorts with a chafe-free chamois help reduce vibration and friction. Seamless padding is best.
Use Chamois Cream
Applying barrier creams with herbal oils, zinc oxide, tea tree oil or antifungal ingredients minimizes chafing, irritation and discomfort in sensitive areas.
Ride on Smoother Surfaces
Seek out paved paths or roads instead of rough dirt, gravel or cobblestone which transmit more shock and vibration to delicate tissues.
How to Treat a Sore Butt After Cycling
To promote healing and relief, try these handy tips:
Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel or taking a cold bath can reduce inflammation and numb sore spots temporarily. Ice for 10-15 minutes several times a day.
Alternating heat from warm baths, hot packs, or a heating pad may also ease aches and loosen up tight muscles.
OTC Pain Relievers
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve soreness and swelling. Acetaminophen is another option.
Moisturizing lotions with aloe vera, vitamin E, chamomile, arnica or calendula may calm and heal irritated skin. Anesthetic gels temporarily numb pain.
Soaking your bottom in a few inches of warm water with Epsom salts, oak bark or other herbs promotes circulation and speeds healing.
Gently massaging sore areas boosts blood flow. Self-massage with a tennis ball, foam roller or massage tool can help release tight spots.
Easy glute, piriformis and hamstring stretches keep muscles flexible, preventing cramps and spasms which contribute to pain. Yoga can help too.
Taking a few days off the bike allows strained muscles and tissues to fully mend. Ease back into riding gradually.
Tilting the nose down slightly, moving it forward or trying a different style may take pressure off sensitive spots.
Proper Bike Fit
Getting refitted helps redistribute pressure away from tender areas. A professional bike fitting is best.
New Cycling Shorts and Saddle
Upgrading to high quality, seamless padded shorts and a wider, softer saddle tailored to your anatomy can prevent many issues.
Practice pedaling in circles, shifting positions, standing periodically and maintaining proper posture to prevent overuse injuries.
When to See a Doctor for Butt Pain After Cycling
See your physician promptly if you experience:
- Severe or worsening pain that prevents sitting, walking or sleeping
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs and buttocks
- Saddle sores or blisters becoming infected (red, oozing pus, fever)
- Trouble controlling urine flow or bowels
- Bleeding from rectum
- Weight loss, fatigue, night sweats or fever
These may indicate an underlying medical condition requiring treatment beyond basic comfort measures. Nerve, tissue or bone damage, infections, hemorrhoids, hernias or tumors may sometimes be the cause.
Diagnostic tests may include a physical exam, x-rays, MRI scans, cultures, cystoscopy or colonoscopy. Treatments can range from prescription medications to surgery depending on the diagnosis.
Long-Term Prevention of Butt Soreness When Cycling
Adopting healthy cycling habits is key to avoiding chronic pain and discomfort in your nether regions:
Build Up Mileage Gradually
Increase weekly mileage, speed and hill training slowly over several months to condition your tissues. Avoid sudden spikes.
Vary Your Routes and Terrain
Alternate longer endurance rides with interval training and hills. Include some dirt/gravel to reduce vibration.
Stand More Often
Get off the saddle and pedal standing up for 1-3 minutes every 10-15 minutes to reduce pressure on tissues.
Maintain Proper Form
Keep your knees over the pedals, pedal in circles, and avoid rocking. Bend elbows and relax shoulders.
Choose the Right Gearing
Spin in easier gears rather than mashing in a high gear, which can strain muscles.
Tilt Your Pelvis Forward
Rolling your hips forward takes weight off your tailbone and engages your core muscles.
Adjust Your Position
Slide saddle forward/back, tilt it or raise/lower handlebars until you find the most comfortable riding posture.
Take Regular Breaks
Plan stops every hour to stand, stretch and give your backside a break from the saddle.
Stay Strong and Flexible
Core, glute, hip and hamstring yoga poses and strength training improve muscle stamina so they resist fatigue.
Watch Your Weight
Extra body fat puts more pressure on sensitive tissues. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce padding needed.
Use Proper Hygiene
Wash shorts, body and bike regularly. Change out of sweaty clothes promptly. Keep your skin dry.
Apply Chamois Cream
Use chamois lubebefore and during long rides to prevent chafing and friction hot spots.
Common Myths About Butt Pain When Cycling
There are a few misconceptions about what causes butt pain on a bike:
Myth: Toughening Your Butt is Best
Some believe you just need to toughen up your behind by riding through the pain. But this leads to overuse injuries, infections and long-term damage.
Myth: Wider Saddles Are Always Better
Extra wide cushy saddles seem like they’d be more comfortable but can cause chafing. Optimal width depends on your sit bone width.
Myth: You Just Need More Padding
Lots of padding helps initially but compresses and rubs with extensive riding. Moderate padding with proper shorts works better.
Myth: Rock Hard Saddles Are Best
Very firm saddles prevent sinking in but increase pressure on delicate areas. Some cushioning helps reduce discomfort for most cyclists.
Myth: You’ll Get Used To Discomfort
Ignoring ongoing saddle pain and numbness can lead to nerve damage and cutting off blood flow. Proper bike fit and saddle choice prevents problems.
Myth: Women Need Extra Padding
While women’s saddles are shaped differently, excess padding tends to increase friction and chafing. Moderate padding and proper fit work for most.
Answers to Common Butt Pain Questions
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about dealing with a sore bottom from cycling:
Is it normal for your butt to hurt when you first start cycling?
Yes, it’s very common when you first begin cycling for your bottom to feel sore during and after rides. In the beginning, your muscles aren’t used to being in a riding position or the repetitive motion. With time, your tissues will adapt.
How long does it take for your butt to stop hurting when cycling?
It usually takes around 2-6 weeks of regular riding for most cyclist’s bottoms to become conditioned to the saddle. As tissues toughen up and muscles strengthen, discomfort fades. Finding the right saddle setup helps the process.
Why does my butt go numb when cycling?
Numbness or tingling in the genitals, buttocks and upper legs is often caused by compression of nerves or reduced blood flow from the saddle pressing on soft tissues and arteries that run near the surface in the perineum. Adjustments to saddle position, tilt and height can help.
Why does my butt hurt days after cycling?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from exertion is common a day or two after long or intense rides. Pain is often worse if you ride again before fully recovering. Rest and light stretching help ease post-ride butt fatigue.
How can I make my butt stop hurting when I ride?
First, take a few days off the bike. Then make sure your saddle is at the right height and fore/aft position. Tilt the nose down a bit. Make sure your shorts and saddle have moderate padding. Stand up often and use good form. Apply chamois cream. Start back slowly.
What is the best saddle for reducing butt pain?
The best saddles have sufficient rear and midline cutouts to reduce pressure, a moderate amount of padding, a wider sit bone area about 1.5 hands’ width, and a lightly textured cover to increase traction.
Should my sit bones hurt when cycling?
Some discomfort is normal at first but sharp, aching, or continuous pain under your sit bones usually means the saddle is too narrow or firm. Try a wider saddle with a pressure relieving groove or softer padding under your sit bones.
Why do my butt cheeks hurt after cycling?
Pain or burning in your glute muscles (butt cheeks) is often delayed onset muscle soreness, especially if you ride hard while standing. Hip abductor muscle strain can also radiate into your upper glutes. Stretching helps prevent tightness.
While it’s common for your derriere to hurt after time in the bike saddle, ongoing discomfort or severe pain isn’t normal and indicates changes are needed. Use these tips to prevent and relieve a sore butt from cycling to keep your backside comfortable on the bike long-term. Proper saddle fit, bike adjustments, riding techniques, and padded shorts go a long way toward making your rear road-ready.