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Coaches Panel: Sore groin and numb hands on the bike, related?

  • By Paul Swift
  • Published Apr. 8, 2010
  • Updated Jan. 1, 2013 at 9:36 PM EST
Paul Swift of BikeFit.com. Photo courtesy Paul Swift

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Sore goin, numb hands

Hi!
I’m a newbie to road cycling and have been riding now for about eight weeks. What I would like to know is should I still be getting groin tenderness after this much time?

I have tried to move my seat back and tried moving forward with some minor differences and over a 40km ride find my legs are great and my butt or groin needs to get off the seat to get relief. I ride a Cannondale Synapse 4, 58cm bike with Prologo pro seat. I would appreciate any suggestions as I want to be able to ride 100km in six months.

Regards,
— Dale

P.S. I also get numbness in my hands which I shift around to get some relief. Are the two somehow related?

Dale,
The combination of groin discomfort and hand numbness is, more than likely, related. This may seem a bit crazy. In reality, we do often see them occurring at the same time.

Since your saddle is hurting where I will call “front and center” and you have pressure on your hands, it sounds like this is not the best saddle for you. I noticed some of these saddles are selling on Amazon for as low as $59. I do not see many of these saddles in our fitting business (my reason for checking around). My take is that this saddle is not all that well liked.

When a saddle is uncomfortable in this area, the rider also tends to put more pressure on his hands in order to un-weight things at the front and center area on the saddle. It is possible in some hand numbness situations the saddle is pointed down. Since you are having saddle discomfort at the front and center area, it does not appear your saddle is pointed downward. On a downward-pointed saddle, we often see hand issues from people sliding forward on their saddles. The need to constantly support their forward moving weight and push their butts back on the saddle causes these hand issues.

You need to find a saddle that supports you under the sits bones. Saddles we are having the best success with today tend to be more flat across the wide part or rear of the saddle. Generally, you know when you find the right saddle because you will feel pressure under the sit bones like never before. It may almost seem uncomfortable. Keep in mind that pressure under the sit bones is usually good pressure. If the pressure is not under the sit bones, much of your weight is probably on the front and center of the saddle.

Specialized, and now Trek, offer saddles as I have described. We have had better luck with the Specialized saddles across the board. Trek saddles have improved over the past two years, but not to the point of Specialized. Both companies have invested time and effort in saddles and saddle design. Specialized took this on earlier than Trek and seems to still hold the edge. I believe Trico Sports may have something later this year to consider. However, that does not help us now.

Sometimes, a saddle that is a little too far forward can lead to more hand pressure. In your case, I notice your bike is probably a few years old. Even just a few years ago, the hoods of the brake levers tended to be more curved on top than brake hoods today. If the curve of the hoods is an issue, there is a product that you can use to fill in the curve. I was not able to find great photo or link. But, here is one that does show the product.

It does not, however, show one of the shapes on top of the hoods but under the brake hood cover. This is an area we sometimes fill in when the curve of the brake hood is an issue. Send us an e-mail directly if this seems to be the case. These shapes are no longer being made but we have a few in the back.

— Paul Swift

An eight-time elite national champion and founder of BikeFit.com, Paul developed the Bicycle Fitting System (BFS), which includes products like the cleat wedges. The BFS helped bring the “front view” of a cyclist into the bike fitting world. BikeFit.com offers tools and education for bike fitters worldwide, helping them to better position humans on bicycles.

Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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