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Old 08-05-10, 12:12 PM   #1
Chazzlee
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Interesting (and great!) side benefit from firm saddle- no more leg cramps!

I'm 72 and been riding a Trek 7000 with modified riser bars for several years now. Previously I had a soft foam Avenir seat, and I could count on having really severe leg cramps from riding, always occurring at night, in bed! These cramps were vicious, and I came to consider them the price I had to pay for loving to ride bikes! :

But about a month ago I got a Brooks B68 saddle on the advice of what I read in these forums... There's no doubt the thing is firm (hard, actually!), and I really haven't ridden with it far enough or long enough yet to '"break it in", as they say. -But surprisingly enough the hardness of this seat causes me no pain at all while riding, nor after it either! And after using this saddle daily for a month now, the leg cramps have not occurred once!!

I have no idea why this should be, and y'know, I don't really care 'why' either! (I suspect it may be my brain telling my ass "Hey, we paid $123 (incl shipping) for this thing, so you'd damn well better not nurt!!!

But whatever the reason, I'm just happy to have such a comfortable improvement...! (I know the Brooks saddle thing does not work for everyone, so I'm just glad to be within the majority for which it does! )

Having said that tho, I should mention that because of occasional back problems I'm the type who sleeps on an extra-extra firm mattress, and when entering a room if I can't find a firm seat I'll either stand or ask the host if they have any wooden kitchen chairs around! I even prefer those hard fold-up metal chairs to any kind of cushy sofa or chair! So bear this all in mind before you take into consideration my appreciation of the Brooks line and run out and buy one of these saddles for yourself...
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Old 08-05-10, 01:55 PM   #2
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I wonder if it's the saddle per se or a slight difference in seat angle, height or fore-aft postion. I ran into a cramping issue for a while several years ago and inadvertantly cured it by a slight saddle position change, but I can't pinpoint exactly what it was. I recently cured (so far) a right knee issue with a significant saddle position change based on what I learned on the web through a google search on knee issues.

Over the last ten years I've gone to progressively harder and narrower saddles as my body adapted and I increased my ride times. My last mountain bike saddle (WTB) cost coincidently $120 and weighs in under 200 grams. Very comfortable.

Back about 10 years ago I did an extensive web seach on the B68. I could find no one who did not like it. I almost bought one from a site where you got your money back if you found it uncomfortable. I believe they gave you a year to make up your mind. I actually called and talked to the retailer to make sure I understood.

I wound up building up a new Ti road bike and decided on another saddle at much less weight and which my local dealer let me try a week with a full refund. I liked it so much I bought a second for my mountain bike. Unfortunately it couldn't take the pounding so now I have a spare.

A friend of mine uses the same saddle to do the Rondenaire series. He's been to Paris twice doing the annual 1200 kilometer ride.

I do a lot of standing myself (always have, even in airports) and prefer hard chairs as well. Probably why you made it to a healthy 72 and me to 71. I migrated to a softer mattress recently as I developed a hip ach with the hard stuff.

Best thing for back issues are push-ups and leg raises plus general weight training helps. Mountain bikeing on single-track helps the upper body a lot as well. A test of a group of pro mountain bikers found a high upper body bone density. Road bikers generally suffer from poor bone density.

I'm using drop bars on the road. I tend to be what they call tight-jointed, but my weight traing keeps me flexible and joint-pain free though I did suffer lower-back pain before I stated weigh training in my mid 40's.

Al
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Old 08-05-10, 02:40 PM   #3
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I would presume that the Soft saddle was allowing some restriction to blood circulation and the nerves around that area and changing the saddle has aleviated that problem. The fact that the saddle is firmer-and probably narrower- would have had a lot to do with this. Couple this with a possible change of saddle tilt and position and you have the probable answer. Which one I would not hazard a guess at but you have now given those suffering from leg cramps another thing to look at and adjust besides adding electrolites to their diet.

Glad to see you have cured your problem- and just hope the Brooks keeps working for you.
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Old 08-05-10, 03:39 PM   #4
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I used to get leg cramps at night. Did a bit of research and determined that it had nothing to do with the bike. My body was low on potassium after riding. Added potassium to my diet (yogurt, dates, tomato/V8 juice, etc.) and haven't had problems since.
If the Brooks is too hard (it would be for me ) get a comfortable saddle and try the potassium fix.
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Old 08-05-10, 04:30 PM   #5
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My riding leg cramps went away when I started using Nuun and drinking more (water that is).
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Old 08-05-10, 06:53 PM   #6
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Good comments above, but "Leg cramps" is pretty general. Was it the quads, hammies, calves... all of the above? Any significant saddle discomfort while riding the old saddle?

It is certainly true that many, many people think a big fluffy saddle is the key to comfort, but it ain't so IMO. Is the new Brooks narrower than the old fluffball, per chance?
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Old 08-05-10, 08:53 PM   #7
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Fifty years ago I went from a "soft tractor" seat to a leather Persons, never looked back!
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Old 08-05-10, 09:43 PM   #8
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If a hard saddle is all it takes to cure leg cramps, I am going to figure out how to mount a brick on my seat post! Or try to find a stone one similar to the one on Sheldon Brown's site.

Unfortunately based on my past use of the Thoork saddle, about as hard as they come, the better riding position from the new saddle makes more sense.
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Old 08-05-10, 10:30 PM   #9
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I didn't have leg cramps from soft saddles, but I did experience numbness in the genitals, and long with severe friction burns in the groin area. Switching to a harder, slicker, leather Brooks saddle alleviated a lot of the aforementioned conditions to the point of being barely noticeable.
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Old 08-06-10, 07:47 AM   #10
Chazzlee
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Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
Good comments above, but "Leg cramps" is pretty general. Was it the quads, hammies, calves... all of the above? Any significant saddle discomfort while riding the old saddle?

It is certainly true that many, many people think a big fluffy saddle is the key to comfort, but it ain't so IMO. Is the new Brooks narrower than the old fluffball, per chance?
My calf muscles would seize up and turn into vise-grip quality cramps! Only escape was to grit my teeth, tough it out, and force my leg as straight out as possible! After several looong and painful moments it would subside!

Riding the old Avenir, not only was the foam the problem, it was also its ~grabby~ lycra covering!! The foam felt soft at first, but gradually would compress to form pressure on your seat bones. And the lycra would grab at your clothes, making it almost impossible to shift around on the saddle and even making it difficult to mount/dismount. It was also wider in the front part and would chafe at my legs while pedaling.

The B68 of course, being firm and smooth leather, does none of these things! -And one can move on it quite easily, without feeling all that resistance! I find pedaling now delightfully easier... The Avenir's rear seat area was indeed a bit wider than the Brooks B68 and also higher and squishier, but the nose part, where much of the problems with riding with it occurred, is certainly very much wider, softer, and more highly padded!

AFA adjusting the seat angle goes, on my bike I can't do that... The '07 Trek 7000 has a shock seat post with a fixed-angle top where you slide a railed saddle into clamps. You can move the seat fore and aft to your liking, but cannot change the angle one iota. (Which is okay with me, I like the angle that's provided well enough...)

Last edited by Chazzlee; 08-06-10 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 08-06-10, 07:58 AM   #11
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[QUOTE=Chazzlee;11242822]My calf muscles would seize up and turn into vise-grip quality cramps! Only escape was to grit my teeth, tough it out, and force my leg as straight out as possible! After several looong and painful moments it would subside!


I found it helps to extend you foot/point your toes as well.

Al
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Old 08-06-10, 08:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chazzlee View Post
My calf muscles would seize up and turn into vise-grip quality cramps! Only escape was to grit my teeth, tough it out, and force my leg as straight out as possible! After several looong and painful moments it would subside!
If the cramps were just in the calf muscles, I would tend to suspect that a difference in saddle position (most likely culprit is height) is the reason for the reduction in the cramping. There is a good chance that your old setup allowed you to pedal in a manner that overloaded the calf muscles and they fatigued earlier than other leg muscle groups. This is much more prone to happen if you lack flexibility in the calf muscles. Keep in mind that while hydration and mineral depletion is often thought of as THE reason for cramps, it is not always the case. Overuse of muscles can cause cramps too.
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Old 08-06-10, 10:10 AM   #13
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If the cramps were just in the calf muscles, I would tend to suspect that a difference in saddle position (most likely culprit is height) is the reason for the reduction in the cramping. There is a good chance that your old setup allowed you to pedal in a manner that overloaded the calf muscles and they fatigued earlier than other leg muscle groups. This is much more prone to happen if you lack flexibility in the calf muscles. Keep in mind that while hydration and mineral depletion is often thought of as THE reason for cramps, it is not always the case. Overuse of muscles can cause cramps too.
According to Ryan (Sports nutrition for Endurance Atheletes), over fatigue is considered the most likely villan, with insufficient sodium another possibility. She says that cramping is not well understood.

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Old 08-06-10, 04:59 PM   #14
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Well done fellow diagnosticians. I think we have gotten to the bottom of this.... not to discredit the comfort improvement of the Brooks, of course.
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Old 08-12-10, 09:54 PM   #15
Chazzlee
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According to Ryan (Sports nutrition for Endurance Atheletes), over fatigue is considered the most likely villan, with insufficient sodium another possibility. She says that cramping is not well understood.
Al
Sheeeesh, it was understood far too well by me!
Anyway, another solid week or so of riding, and not a cramp in sight!
-Wunnerful, wunnerful!
(And if you know who said that alla time, you really do belong here in the geezers group!!)
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