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3 of the Biggest Myths Surrounding Bike Saddles

            Being in this industry for a little over 3 years now, I’ve been asked a ton of questions about our saddle, and why it’s designed the way it is; which is awesome! But, it is kind of crazy that I routinely get asked the same 3 questions. Since the launch of our PhysioSaddle 2.0, my inbox has been flooded with questions from eager customers about certain aspects of our saddle design. The majority of these questions are triggered by blogs and “research” that’s been put out there by cycling websites and publications. My day job revolves around the human body as I’m a Physical Therapist and a Board-Certified Sports Specialist. I’ve done my research, and want you as the cyclist and consumer to be educated to ask the right questions or to simply know why. So, here’s my professional opinion to the 3 biggest myths surrounding bike saddles.

 

  • Sit Bone Width
  • This is by far the most asked question I get in person and online, and easily my biggest pet peeve about the cycling industry. First off, the term “sit bones” is extremely misleading, and drives this misconception. The anatomical term for these structures is Ischial Tuberosities, and it serves as the attachment point for 3 important structures; the origin of the adductor magnus and hamstring muscles, and the attachment of the sacrotuberous ligament. These bones are termed the “sit bones” due to their positioning when a person is in a seated position as the bones become a primary bearer of your weight. This is fine for a couch, your recliner, or even your car seat; as these surfaces are very forgiving. But have you ever found yourself constantly re-adjusting in a church pew, or in a folding chair at a school event? I’m sure you have, and it’s because the amount of tissue between the “sit bone” and your skin surface is so minute, your body is telling you to stop compressing those tissues and you constantly shift your weight to let those structures breath… just as you have done anytime you’ve sat on a bike saddle. This is why you shouldn’t be bearing weight through these structures and is a ploy for saddle makers to profit off of different sizes of saddles. So the next time you are in the market for a saddle (which is everyone who has ever ridden a bike and the reason you are reading this) and the sales person or saddle website asks you what your sit bone width is or has you sit on a device to measure your sit bone width.. ask them why!
  • Along with the sit bone width questions, a follow up is “do you have different sizes of saddles for the male and female pelvis. My answer is… no. While it is true that the male and female pelvis differ in size and width, these differences are easily measured by the tiny little dashes on the metric side of a ruler. And these differences are what big saddle makers are using to sell you on sit bone width and a saddle “made just for you”. As our very happy customer base grows, it’s awesome to see the number of women who are riding our saddle and loving it. It’s also pretty awesome to get an email from a gentleman who is 6’5 and 300 pounds who is riding our saddle pain free. If that gentleman can ride the same saddle as the women who are riding it, and get the same relief, do you really think the saddle size and sit bone width are good indicators of a saddle fit?

 

  • There’s not enough cushioning
  • This is a question that comes along every so often and does have some grounds for argument. Cushioning is placed in areas to cushion structures that are susceptible for compression or injury. So, riding a bike saddle for hours on end, I agree that you do need cushioning. But, if the saddle is designed in a way that conforms or accepts your anatomy, then less cushioning is needed. Take the church pew for example, if you slide a 5 mm pad under your butt and sit for the entire service, you will eventually feel the pain in your sit bones as the integrity of that foam decreases. The same happens on your typical bike seat that is made for you to sit on your “sit bones”. That foam is serving as a pain mediator until it succumbs to your body weight and allows your “sit bones” to rest against the hard undersurface of the saddle. Which is why you move and shift around to alleviate these stresses. The design of our saddle is such that you sit in the saddle and bear your weight through the middle back portion, which accepts the roundness of your (small or in my case, big) butt. If you put A1 sauce on a bad steak, it may make it taste a little better, but it’s still a bad steak. It you put extra padding on a bad saddle design, does it make the bad saddle design any better??

 

  • I can’t ride a saddle that locks me into one position.
  • I also think this statement has some grounds for argument, but it depends why you think this. Yes, our saddle is designed for you to sit in one area, which allows for improved comfort and many will tell you improved power generation. But this doesn’t mean you can’t get out of that position to climb or stand to readjust. The biggest reason I get this question, is because the individual is used to constantly adjusting to relieve pain and stress on their backside or undercarriage. Once you get our saddle dialed in, you don’t have to do that anymore!!

 

Please note that I’m not trying to throw anyone in the industry under the bus by these statements, I’m just trying to do my part to educate the growing number of cyclists out there to question these things, and to be an educated consumer. My education and medical background are different than the engineers designing saddles for other companies, and that’s fine. But, know that just because something looks different and is outside of the “norms” doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work, and 3 world records on our saddle will back that up!

 

Shane M Page, PT, DPT, SCS

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