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Old 07-06-12, 08:44 PM   #1
CowtownMom
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New to Cycling with seat problems

Hi all,

I am new to cycling but my husband is not. He recently bought a tandem and has been surprised by my enthusiastic participation in this new activity. Now the reason I'm posting. After quite a few miles my legs were fine but a few other issue that had me getting off the bike with some urgency was a problem. We recently changed my saddle to a Brooks B67s. I love it and my knee has been fine but my leg hasn't. I am having pain and tightness on the muscles on back of my left thigh. There is a spot near my sit bones that I am told by others that have more familiarity with the sciatic nerve, that the new seat is causing too much pressure on the left sciatic nerve which in turn is causing the thigh muscles to tight and hurt. This decreases to almost gone when I stand up and walk a bit.

I have been giving some suggestions including lots of stretching both on and off the bike but if we can't figure out how to adjust the new seat, give my backside some extra padding or another trick, I'm going to have to replace the new seat. A friend, (long time yoga teacher) says that my hips are unbalanced, hence the added pressure on one side. The cushy seat I had before must have compensated for a slightly tilted sitting position. Several suggestions have been, 1) keep adjust the tilt and position of the saddle, 2) add extra padding on one side to balance my sitting position so one leg isn't have to work harder than the other, and 3) adding an insole into the slightly shorter leg to even the stretch during peddling.

I am open to any suggestions.

Thanks,
Ellen
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Old 07-06-12, 10:44 PM   #2
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We're way over my head here, but if one leg is shorter, a pad in that shoe would be cheap and easy to try. You could fold up a paper towel to see if that helps.
At least for me, a millimeter or two of tilt makes a big difference with Brooks saddles. You can measure from the top tube to the nose of the saddle and make tiny adjustments one way or the other.
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Old 07-07-12, 12:22 AM   #3
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Not an expert, but two things come to mind.....

1. Bike fit - saddle height, setback, stem length; to upright leads to extra seat pressure, need to balance weight between seat, pedals and bars.

2. Change saddles - Brooks aren't magical and may not work for you. Search the net and the forums, lots of information concerning Brooks saddles.

Also, sciatic nerve problems can be very painful and would severely impact any ride. You could try and sort this out yourself through trial and error, or, seek professional help through a qualified bike fitter. I believe this is standard advice, but it could really help you.
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Old 07-07-12, 04:33 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum... Why not put the first seat back on?
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Old 07-07-12, 04:40 AM   #5
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Brooks are very sensitive to tilt adjustments like velo dog says.
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Old 07-07-12, 05:01 AM   #6
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Try some of theses.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/49...r-hip-flexors/
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Old 07-07-12, 06:07 AM   #7
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Hi Ellen, Glad you are enjoying (mostly) your tandem. I have half a dozen saddles in a box that I tried before finding one that worked for me. Some times it is a matter of trying lots of different ones. I will say I'm a fan of modifying equipment until it works better and the saddle I use has been heavily modified. However, some saddles for some people are very sensitive to tiny changes in not only saddle position, but rider position. You might try moving the saddle up or down a few mm at a time or front to back just a bit.

If there is some issue with a leg length discrepancy or hip imbalance, the idea of trying a paper towel shim, as suggested by Velodog, is easy to try. If the shim seems to work, a permanent one can be inserted using ski boot shims. http://www.tognar.com/bontex-insole-shims/ If home remedies fail altogether, then begin a search for the best bike fitter in your area.
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Old 07-07-12, 09:14 AM   #8
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Suspension seat post used? stokers dont see bumps in the road as well..
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Old 07-07-12, 10:26 AM   #9
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One great thing about the early Selle AnAtomica saddles is that they gave you an excellent and very detailed guide to saddle setup. I think he addresses the pressure you have very directly.

1. Height - measure your pubic bone height (not your trouser inseam) and multiply by 0.883. If you have crank lengths other than 170, adjust accordingly. This formula height is just a starting point.
2. Fore-aft - if you don't have any idea what your fore-aft position should be, make the axis of teh seat tube intersect the saddle top at the midpoint of the saddle. Otherwise use your current position. From here I like to slide the saddle fore or back (usually back) until my body can be comfortable when my balance is over the BB. In this position I can lift my hands off the bars without a big effort from my core to hold my body up. If I don't have it back far enough, I could feel pressure on the backs of my upper thigh (I think this is the problem you're describing. Eventually it will cause an internal bruise on my hamstring. I slide the saddle back far enough to minimize or eliminate this pressure without ending up with my weight supported on my perineum. If I have no upper hamstring pain, my sit bones are not on the rigid steel heel, and my perineum is not supporting my weight, it's good. Usually in this state my sitbones are even with the widest portion of the saddle.
3. Tilt angle - sitting upright on the saddle it should not take a large core effort to hold your butt in the position above. If you slide forward, raise teh nose a teeny bit at a time. If you slide backward, lower the nose a teeny bit at a time. You did install the saddle level in the first place, right?
4. If back of thigh pressure is more on one leg or the other and it would not be right to move teh saddle back again, you can rotate the saddle nose toward the side that has excess pressure, perhaps a 16th inch at a time. It may be necessary to adjust fore/aft after you do this. If you have excess pressure on one of your two sit bones, rotate the saddle nose toward the side with the pain, just a tiny bit at a time.
5. Tension - this is only really applicable to the Selle AnAtomica. I don't recommend tensioning a Brooks up and down in order to optimize it. It isn't designed for that.

The rotation adjustment was new to me when I started using these saddles, but I've used these concepts to help my wife and some others optimize saddle positioning with good results.
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Old 07-07-12, 10:37 AM   #10
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Thanks for the suggestions (I'm the OP's husband). We'll try a few of those and see what difference it makes.

@Teachme, I'm not sure we are going to put the first saddle back on, as it caused other major problems that this one solved. If the Brooks just doesn't work out, I'll get her something else to try, and either sell the Brooks or use it on another bike.
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Old 07-07-12, 10:41 AM   #11
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+1 for Road Fan's advise on saddle set up and positioning. I'll reinforce not using the tension bolt to adjust the Brooks saddles. You can ruin a Brooks fast with too much tension. Some feel that the nose of a Brooks should be ever so slightly tipped up, I have not found it helpful to me with the Professional or the B17. Level to start as said and ever so slightly down in increments. My experience, though no expert what so ever is that your saddle fore/aft position is off. Possible leg length problem you mentioned, see a fitter or a Podiatrist for an orthotic to place in the shoe.

Best of luck in sorting out the saddle and pain problem. And welcome to 50+ forum and to BF. Some pictures of the tandem would be super too.

Bill
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Old 07-07-12, 10:51 AM   #12
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Key words from three of the excellent posts above:
  • tiny adjustments
  • very sensitive
  • teeny bit at a time
Small changes can make a big difference. It's easy to overshoot.
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Old 07-07-12, 12:51 PM   #13
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Some pictures of the tandem would be super too. Bill
Thanks for the advice. Here's some pics:
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Old 07-07-12, 01:18 PM   #14
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Rotating the saddle just a bit left or right, as RoadFan suggested is easy to try. As a male, my overall geometry is different but I do have some sort of hip discrepency. There is no pain of any sort but I find the saddle rotated just a bit is more comfortable.
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Old 07-07-12, 10:43 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the help. We just adjusted my seat with some of your suggestions and it appears to have helped. We are going on a ride tomorrow and then to Brunch afterwards. A great way to start my birthday off and hopefully a pain free morning because of you guys. Hopefully I will be able to leave a positive report tomorrow about having a pain free ride.

Thanks so much to all who posted.
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Old 07-08-12, 02:43 PM   #16
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The adjustments we made last night were to tilt the saddle slightly back and rotated it to the right a little. We did a 15 mile ride this morning, and she had a little pain, but not nearly as bad as before. Rotated the saddle to the left a touch and that took care of most of it. The remaining issue may just be from the nerve being aggravated already. Might be down to just some minor tweaks. Thanks.
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Old 07-08-12, 03:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by CowtownMom View Post
Thanks for all the help. We just adjusted my seat with some of your suggestions and it appears to have helped. We are going on a ride tomorrow and then to Brunch afterwards. A great way to start my birthday off and hopefully a pain free morning because of you guys. Hopefully I will be able to leave a positive report tomorrow about having a pain free ride.

Thanks so much to all who posted.
Cowtownmom aka Ellen, you're welcome. One thing I'd suggest is try not to ride too long after pain begins, if it does. For one thing, your body may need to adapt to the new arrangement and will probably develop new muscle to help you acclimate. Allowing time for that without injuring yourself may be all the added "care" you need. If you think you are getting the hang of some of these adjustments, see if you can fine-tune a little bit to reduce pain the next incremental amount. For example if rotating the saddle the first little bit or two helped but a reduced pain returned, see if adjusting a little bit more helps a little bit more. If it doesn't, you can just change it back.

Ultimately there's no such thing as a guaranteed pain-free setup. What happens is you get it to the point where "I can do this ride pretty well now," then you try something harder, which might add stress and require some more adjustment. And on, and on, and on.
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Old 07-09-12, 08:04 PM   #18
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One of the things that I need to do at this point is to acquire women's bike shorts. I have been wearing my husband and they work somewhat but am still having some difficulties. I am told that I turn my right heel in a touch and my left leg/hip are shorter and therefore lower than the right. I am feeling a bit more strain and stretch in my hamstrings on that side to even pain or tightness. I am working on stretching things better and increasing core/leg strength to help the situation but we still have to figure out how to NOT sit on my sciatic nerve and make it ANGRY with me. I'm hoping that the new seat position and maybe an addition of an insert into my left shoe will make a difference. The insert won't change my 'sit' position but will affect the extra stretch it seems to be doing for the same work as the other leg. Another suggestion was to sew clothing shoulder pads into one side of my bike shorts to change my hip position on the seat. Think I'm going to try that and the insert leaving the seat in the position it is in now. It feels a bit odd off center but things felt better so if turning it a bit crooked is the trick then I'm all for that.
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Old 07-10-12, 07:58 AM   #19
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Another suggestion was to sew clothing shoulder pads into one side of my bike shorts to change my hip position on the seat. Think I'm going to try that and the insert leaving the seat in the position it is in now.
Hiding all my cycling shorts. And the scissors.
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Old 07-10-12, 08:19 AM   #20
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You definitely want some women's specific cycling shorts. My wife has a few pairs she likes, Pearl Izumi is what I gave her last Christmas. sounds like you have a plan and some good advise. Enjoy the rides with Yo'Spiff!

Bill
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