A stationary bike is one of the most convenient pieces of workout equipment. It can help you shave off some weight and build more muscles. It does have one flaw, though.
Whether you’re new to indoor cycling or have been doing it for a while, you’ve probably experienced a certain discomfort and painful feeling in your inner thighs and nether regions after spending some time on the bike.
Stationary bike seats aren’t meant to be uncomfortable, but they, unfortunately, tend to be so. Perhaps no other soreness or discomfort while riding is more noticeable because this is the area of your body that experiences the most compression.
Thankfully, there are ways to make your exercise on a stationary bike seat more tolerable. Here are five great tips on how to make a stationary bike seat more comfortable.
How to Make a Stationary Bike Seat More Comfortable
You can make a stationary bike seat more comfortable by:
- Adjusting the bike’s saddle and handlebars
- Investing in high-quality padded cycling shorts
- Using anti-chafing cream
- Buying a padded cover for your bike seat
- Changing the bike’s saddle
Tip 1: Adjust the Bike’s Saddle and Handlebars
There are many solutions to making a stationary bike seat more comfortable. However, if the bike isn’t adjusted to match your body, the discomfort may persist.
That’s why the first thing that you should do is check and adjust your bike’s saddle and handlebars.
First, make sure that the saddle is adjusted to your height. If the saddle is set too high, your legs won’t support your weight properly. The weight will end up falling on your sit bone and nether regions.
You can adjust the saddle to your height by standing next to your bike, then either raise or lower the saddle until it’s level with your hip.
Next, set the pedal down to a six-o’clock position and sit on the bike. The entire sole of your feet should be touching the pedals. Your legs should be almost straight with a slight bend in the knees.
You should also check the saddle’s angle. A saddle leaning too far back can force you to put weight on the front of your nether regions, which can cause soft tissue problems. Conversely, a saddle leaning too far forward can propel you to push back on your sit bones.
Ideally, the saddle’s angle should be parallel to the ground. However, you can still adjust the angle a couple of degrees forward or backward, depending on which position is most comfortable for you.
The position of your handlebars may be the reason you’re uncomfortable. You may end up putting more weight on your sit bones if your handlebars are too high. Plus, they’ll put pressure on your neck and back if they’re too low. That’s why you should set your handlebars to be level with or slightly higher than the saddle.
If the reach to the handlebars is too long, you may end up inadvertently locking your arms and pushing way back on the saddle. You may also slide forward on the saddle to reach the handlebars, which can cause pain.
The proper distance from the saddle to the handlebars depends on your torso and arm’s length. Make sure that the saddle-handlebar distance is neither too far nor too near.
Tip 2: Invest in High-Quality Padded Cycling Shorts
Your clothing choices may be the cause of your discomfort on the bike. While riding, wearing regular workout shorts or leggings can lead to chafing, bruising, and soreness. This is because they’re not designed to provide the protection your legs and skin need.
You can invest in a pair of high-quality padded cycling shorts. The purpose of these shorts is to create a barrier between your body and the bike saddle.
The pad, also known as the chamois, protects the rider’s nether regions and sit bones from the body’s pressure on the saddle. It cushions the area where most of your weight rests when you’re on the bike.
Padded cycling shorts can also prevent inner thigh chafing. They tend to extend just above the knees, so it’s the fabric that rubs together, not the skin of your inner thighs.
A good pair of padded shorts can make the ride more comfortable. Still, if you’re looking for that extra bit of comfort, you should go for gel-padded shorts.
Foam-only padded shorts tend to compress and break down quickly due to sweat and pressure. They’re also bulkier than gel-padded shorts.
On the other hand, gel-padded shorts can hold up and remain comfortable much longer. This is because they’re thinner and firmer. However, keep in mind that gel-padded shorts are typically more expensive.
Tip 3: Use Anti-Chafing Cream
There’s probably nothing more inconvenient than inner thigh chafing caused by riding a bike, stationary or not. You’re not alone, though. In fact, inner thigh chafing is a common complaint amongst outdoor and indoor bike riders.
As you pedal and your legs move up and down, the saddle exerts pressure on your inner thighs through the clothing.
Not only is it uncomfortable, but it can become incredibly painful. Your skin may turn red, become highly irritated, and feel as if it’s burning.
Usually, wearing a pair of padded cycling shorts should banish this problem. If you can’t get your hands on a pair or your thighs are still getting chafed, then use a bit of anti-chafing cream.
Using anti-chafing cream can help decrease the friction between your inner thighs. It’s easy to apply, incredibly soothing, and long-lasting. It’s usually used and recommended with cycling shorts. Still, you can use it with underwear and other workout gear.
Simply apply a nickel-sized amount of anti-chafing cream either directly to where you get chafed or on your cycling shorts. You only need a small amount of chafing cream, so make sure you don’t go overboard.
Tip 4: Buy a Padded Cover for Your Bike Seat
You can always buy a padded cover for your bike seat if it’s too uncomfortable. These removable padded covers provide cushioning for your inner thighs and nether regions, which can significantly decrease the pain and discomfort caused by the bike seat.
What’s more, padded covers can protect the actual bike seat from wear and tear. Many padded covers are made from waterproof materials, which makes them humidity-resistant and sweat-resistant. They also prevent odor buildup.
Padded saddle covers are easy to install on a bike saddle—simply slip them over the saddle and pull the toggle. Just make sure you get the right size for your bike’s saddle to reap the benefits of the cover.
The most recommended padded seat covers are gel bike seat covers. They’re much softer and more comfortable. They’re designed to alleviate pain and numbness caused by spending long periods on a stationary bike.
It should be noted that while it doesn’t happen often, padded bike seat covers can slip around and shift as you adjust your position on the bike. That’s why we recommend trying out the padded shorts first.
Tip 5: Change the Bike’s Saddle
If all else fails, the best decision would be to change your bike’s saddle. A too wide or too narrow saddle may cause you inconvenience and discomfort. There are also different saddle shapes to choose from.
Luckily, almost all stationary bike saddles can be detached and replaced. You just have to find the saddle that’s your size and feels the most comfortable.
You can find in most bike shops a non-intrusive device that measures the distance between your sit bones. You can also take your sit bone measurements using a piece of aluminum foil or cardboard.
Sit down on the foil or cardboard, then pick up your feet as if you’re riding. When you stand up, you’ll find two depressions in place of your sit bones. Measure the distance between the centers of the depressions, then add about an inch.
You can try replacement bike saddles, like this one from Bikeroo. They’re designed to offer you maximum comfort while riding. They also have extra cushioning and elastomer suspension springs, which can distribute the pressure more evenly.
For padded shorts and covers, gel-padded is your best choice. However, when you’re replacing your bike saddle, you should consider foam padding. Gel-padded seats usually don’t last as long as foam-padded seats.
Working out on a stationary bike can do wonders for your body and health. Still, there’s no denying that it can take some conditioning to get your body, particularly your sit bones, used to riding a bike for an extended period of time.
It’s when the discomfort and soreness worsen and persist that you should start looking for an underlying cause. Once you take care of what’s making your bike seat uncomfortable, you can get the most out of your exercise.
In the end, if you’ve made new adjustments and the pain doesn’t let up, then you may need to contact a bike specialist or a personal trainer.