If you ever get butt hurt, join our group! We meet on Tuesdays and there are snacks.
If your butt hurts because of the bike seat in your new spin class, keep reading for some tips on how to prevent saddle soreness.
My First Time at Spin Class
Two weeks ago, around 1 AM when I make all my best decisions, I signed up for 4 days in a row of morning spin classes.
When the alarm went off at 6:45AM, I reluctantly dragged my butt out of bed, threw on a workable spin class outfit (read: all black) and drove to my indoor cycling class at Hype Silverlake.
I picked out a spin bike in the second row and clipped in. (This was significantly less fun than choosing which carousel animal to ride. Mostly because none of the bikes were shaped like dragons.)
The first thing I noticed? Bike seats are not comfortable. In fact, after a minute, my butt was sore from sitting on the saddle. Only 44 minutes to go!
My quads groaned when we stood. My hamstrings didn’t want to go up any hills. My inner green monster raged at the Roadrunner-like speed my fellow spin class attendees’ legs were moving.
But the worst part was sitting on that incredibly uncomfortable bike saddle. My butt hurt all day long after class. And not just when I went up the stairs. It hurt when I sat and enjoyed my oat milk latte.
Why Does My Butt Hurt After Spin Class? And What Can I Do?
It’s probably because you’re putting pressure on your Ischial Tuberosities (that’s your sit bones if you don’t speak fluent Latin.)
Most indoor bike seats are fitted to an average width, so if yours are narrower or wider, you’ll probably experience some post-class butt soreness in the beginning.
But, I spoke with Leah Kercheville, the YAS and Schwinn certified indoor cycling instructor who led my third class. She’s been teaching cycling for four years and provided some pointers on how I could avoid saddle soreness in the future.
How to Sit on a Bike Saddle
If you’re sitting and you’re uncomfortable, it’s possible you haven’t adjusted your bike properly or you’re sitting incorrectly.
Kercheville explains, “If you are leaning towards the narrow part of the seat with your pelvis tipped forward, all the pressure will be on your delicate beautiful lady parts. Sit towards the back of the seat and tip your pelvis back.” The back of the seat is where the saddle is the “cushiest.”
If you’re having trouble visualizing what she means, think of it this way: “Drop or even curl your tailbone to the floor: No Kardashian booty! If you are pulling your navel towards your spine, you will have less resting body weight on the saddle.” Also, hello abs.
How to Adjust Your Bike Seat So It’s More Comfortable
If it’s your first time at a new indoor cycling studio, ask the instructor for help. Each indoor bike model is different. As Kercheville puts it, “Just because you know your numbers at SoulCycle doesn’t mean you know any other bike.” But, in general, here’s how to set up your bike:
- Seat Height: When sitting clipped in with your leg at the bottom of the rotation (the 6pm position), your knee should be bent just slightly. “This will prevent the sensation of the pedal pulling your leg down,” says Kercheville.
- Seat Distance: “The saddle should be moved far enough back so that within your stride, the front knee should stack on top of the ankle, and not allow your knee to go over or past your toes.”
- Handlebars: Your handlebars should be close enough to your body so that your elbows are bent just slightly when you’re holding on. If you really want some extra core work, float your hands just above the bars from time to time.
Once you get your spin bike in the position you like it, take a photo of the settings! If you go back to the same studio, you can use this for reference to quickly set your bike up again. If you’ve never lost your car in a parking lot, then forget we said anything, Ms. Perfect.
What Else Can I Do to Make My Butt Less Sore?
1. Increase the resistance
More resistance equals less bouncing on the saddle. “Turning up the resistance on the bike forces your stride to be smoother, more controlled, and less ‘jiggly,’ Which in turn translates into safer joints and a less sore butt,” says Kercheville.
2. Get a padded saddle or padded shorts
You may have noticed that bike saddles are also hard as a rock. And boy oh boy have we sat on a lot of rocks. (Igneous is our favorite!). You could bring your own saddle, but that seems a little… extra. It also might make vulvar pain worse.
Instead, if you’re really in pain, consider padded bike shorts. You don’t have to look like you’re going to win the Tour de France, but, you can get underwear or shorts with chamois padding built in. “What you’re really trying to do is to protect your perineum—the area between the sit bones where there are a plethora of nerves and arteries,” Kercheville explains. Padded bike shorts can help reduce pressure points, prevent chafing and disperse road vibration. They’re more for outdoor riding when you have uneven road beneath you.”
3. Keep riding
BIST (butt in saddle time) eventually equals less pain during your ride. We know this is true, because the first time we rode a bike without training wheels we rode straight into the middle of a giant pine tree. We haven’t done that since!
4. Stand up
You may hate the hills, but when you’re standing, your butt isn’t bouncing on the bike seat. And your quads are getting a great workout.
What’s The Biggest Mistake New Spinners Make?
“Simply not asking for help,” says Kercheville. “They show up a minute late because they think they’ll go under the radar and just hop on any random bike and it’ll fit good enough. If you have a good instructor, they will help you in the middle of the class because you look so awkward and uncomfortable. I have never seen anyone just figure it out themselves, never.”
The other common indoor cycling mistake she sees is when spinners put the weight in their arms so they look like they’re keeping up. There’s no shame in taking a break at drinking some water or reducing the resistance a little.
As Kercheville says, “It’s your ride.”
My background is in publishing (I've worked at Parade, Men's Journal, Us Weekly, Stuff, Blender, Beachbody, and more), mostly with a focus in health, fitness, and entertainment. I've also run my own baking company and competed on Cupcake Wars, so hit me up with your baking questions!
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