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Blog: What is a saddle sore and how can it be prevented?

Blog: What is a saddle sore and how can it be prevented?

Any mountain biker will tell you that saddle sores are an occupational hazard. As he prepares for the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek, professional cyclist Chris Wolhuter made time to share his advice on how to prevent them.

It depends on who you ask, but there are several different definitions of a saddle sore.

In simple terms, a saddle sore is an irritation of skin that is in direct contact with the chamois of your cycling shorts and indirect contact with your saddle – in other words, your ASS.

In some cases the sore may simply be an irritation of the skin and this would cause the surrounding areas to go red, similar to a pimple.

The skin may then start chafing and could become broken or raw – it’s normally quite painful.

Another possibility to consider is that a saddle sore may be the result of an ingrown hair or possibly even a boil.

No matter what ‘type of saddle sore’ you have, they are painful and best avoided as far as possible.

While I can’t get any more medically technical than what I’ve discussed above, based on my own experiences, I can outline a number of things one can do to prevent these painful sores:

• Invest in a good pair of cycling shorts. Spend as much as you are able to afford (within reason) and make sure they fit. If possible, rather get bib shorts as opposed to normal cycling shorts because these are designed to hold the chamois in place better. Less movement means less chance of chafe.

• Before using a new pair of cycling shorts, give them a wash to help the fabrics ‘settle’ and then test the shorts on a couple of shorter rides first so that you can get used to them.

Use a good chamois cream. Naturally I am a bit biased and would suggest ASS MAGIC. We use beeswax and lanolin to ensure the cream has great anti-chafe properties. Zinc oxide is another key ingredient which promotes healing should you have a problem. Next time you have a tub, open it up and give it a smell – the scent of tea tree (a great anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent) is very prevalent.

• Before applying your chamois cream, wash your hands and avoid the double dip.

• Ladies, ASS MAGIC is pH friendly for you.

• After your race or training ride try get out of your kit as soon as possible and have a shower so you can get cleaned up. Hygiene is very important.

• You need to spend some time in the saddle. If you’ve done little to no training and then head out for a four hour plus ride, it’s quite likely that you will get a painful ASS. Gradually building up your time in the saddle will ensure that body becomes used to the time spent on the bike.

• In the long term, a new saddle and or bike setup may be required.

• If the saddle sore persists it may be worth consulting your doctor for professional medical advice.

The long and the short of it is that it doesn’t matter how you define a saddle sore. They can be painful and if you follow these tips you will go a long way in avoiding them!

Caption: Chris Wolhuter at the 2016 PwC Great Zuurberg Trek. Photo: Warren Elsom

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