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Old 04-02-07, 08:35 AM   #1
crisma
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Numbness

I wonder if anyone can help me with my problem. After some time in the saddle I tend to suffer from a numb feeling in my....well you know what. The problem can linger after I get off my bike for some hours. I love cycling, its my main hobby, but i've had to give it up recently because of this. I talked about it to my bike dealer, he said it was fairly common and sold me a new saddle. The problem is still there however. I thought maybe someone on this forum may have had some experience with this, and a possible solution. I am really keen to resume cycling, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-02-07, 09:29 AM   #2
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Find a cycling oriented chiropractor who can advise you on whether it's your body, your saddle, your stance on your bike, or what.
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Old 04-02-07, 09:54 AM   #3
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It is the saddles, and our anatomy. If you stay with the usual saddles and recommendations, it will continue.
You have to take ALL THE WEIGHT OFF YOUR SOFT PARTS. The simple way to do this is to tilt the nose of the saddle waaaaay down, so you are strictly sitting on just your "butt bones". Yes, it does take some getting used to and you will be putting more weight on your arms-much more on your butt bones(but none on the important nerves/arteries that are near there), but you should be putting ZERO weight on your soft areas.
Most saddles are set up to put some weight on the area where the arteries/verves/veins that supply your soft areas are.This is great for an aero crouch, and for getting your legs into it, but not good for soft parts. The "love channels" on most saddles don't protect these areas enough. You need to put all your weight on those two bumpy bones in your rump.Yes, you will feel like you are sliding downhill for a while, but you will adjust.
There are some two piece saddles that might work, but I think they are too wide to completely spare the soft parts.
You might have to go for a much more upright riding position with grand dad type bars(the bars 1 billion Chinese use on their bikes))
Luck,
Charlie
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Old 04-02-07, 10:12 AM   #4
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Numbness has nothing to do with bloodflow. It's pinching of nerves that causes numbness in arms, legs and ... other parts.

Getting a hard saddle with a large enough cut-out will solve your problem. Tilting the saddle forward might solve your problem as well, but create new ones (numb hands, overstressed wrists, elbows and shoulders).

If you already have a good saddle, it could be that you're sitting too far forward. Try either bringing the saddle forward on its rails, or work on keeping your butt farther back when you ride. In fact, having the saddle point slightly upwards will assist you in doing that. It's a delicate balance, though...
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Old 04-02-07, 10:37 AM   #5
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Thanks for all of the advice. I'm using a good saddle, so hopefully its just a case of positioning it correctly...I will persevere! Its good to know that maybe there is a solution. I have found someone who can help me with my positioning on the bike too...Cheers!
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Old 04-02-07, 10:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoebeisis
You have to take ALL THE WEIGHT OFF YOUR SOFT PARTS. The simple way to do this is to tilt the nose of the saddle waaaaay down, so you are strictly sitting on just your "butt bones".
I disagree with this advice, as you will spend a lot of effort continually pushing yourself back. Most riders have the saddle level or tilted a tiny bit up, which actually helps keep you back on the wide part of the saddle as cdcf points out, above.

A good bike fitting to make sure you are properly placed, a firm (non-gel) saddle, an arched back, sitting on the rear of the saddle, and carrying some weight on your hands and feet, not just your butt, will all help here.
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Old 04-02-07, 02:04 PM   #7
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I have agreed with pheobeisis on past issues, but not on this. Lowering the front of the saddle to solve this particular problem will only introduce others. You'll be doing an isometric pushup and will evetually tire, stiff arming the bars, allowing your spine to sag, and neck to follow, not to mention that you'll inevitably slide forward onto the very area you want to relieve. Cooker is right.

You don't mention what saddle you have. Nor do you mention what type of bike you ride and whether you are an aggressive rider or more sedate. So, I'll go to my standard advice - going on what I know:

Get a Brooks B67. Raise your bars equal or slightly above the saddle height. This will rotate your pelvis back, so you'll be riding on your ischials (sitbones). Tilt the saddle up in front til only the actual seat portion is level with the ground. The peak is designed to keep you on that seat area. Start there.

http://i11.tinypic.com/484jxpf.jpg
http://i7.tinypic.com/4g44t2w.jpg
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Old 04-02-07, 02:12 PM   #8
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Here's some other types of bikes I ride for entirely different moods, but the saddle setup is the same: Up in front. Bar tops about equal with the saddle.
http://i10.tinypic.com/2evxi82.jpg
http://i7.tinypic.com/2wh1seg.jpg
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Old 04-02-07, 07:32 PM   #9
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A recumbent may be in your future. bk
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Old 04-02-07, 08:46 PM   #10
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I've suffered no occurrences of NJS (Numb Johnson Syndrome) in 2200mi of recumbent riding in the last year. Occasionally (and transiently) happens when riding upright on a hybrid or tandem.
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Old 04-02-07, 09:34 PM   #11
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I dont have that problem with the numbness. But I do have a problem where the two bones in my butt feel bruised but ONLY when I sit on a bike.
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Old 04-03-07, 11:02 AM   #12
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Well, I have to respectifully disagree. Our soft parts-the parts between our anus and genitals didn't evolve to be weight bearing. The nerves/arteries/ veins(which almost always run together-everywhere) just can't take the constant pressure.
I had to tilt the nose waaay down, and use a much taller stem and old fashioned bars to keep riding.I had a dual problem-neck and soft parts.
I agree that just tilting the nose waaaay down will put more weight on your arms/hands, and it will feel "odd" at 1st.
Traditional "racing/touring" type saddles-even the Brooks ones-have you balanced on the 3"x6" area from your butt to the buried part of your penis(or the female comparable anatomy). Yes, increasing the surface area will decrease the pressure on any given area.Yes, a nice elastic leather saddle that eventually "breaks in" to your anatomy, can drop the pressure. Still, if you have numbness in that area, you have to ask yourself," do I really want to put that area at risk". If you tilt the nose waaay down, you take all the force off the soft parts. You can also modify a saddle, or buy one of those 2 piece ones like my wife uses.
Wishyou was me-I would try a sliightly firm gel saddle.It is true that the soft gel saddles are a bit too soft-you sink in too far and end up putting too much pressure in one place.
I had to set all my bikes up like this. This one actually has a more gentle cant than my others.
Folks who ride because they have to rarely use flat bars, and never use drop bars.They use the same bars that all our 1950's Schwinns had-bolt upright.The bolt upright posture naturally takes weight off the soft parts.1 billion Chinese can't be wrong. The drop bars are just because we have been sold a racing look-it just isn't practical for most of us.The flat bars are an improvement, but still not so comfortable for older bodies.
Luck,
Charlie
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Old 04-03-07, 11:37 AM   #13
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phoebeisis points out the truth that physical discomfort is the #1 problem for cyclists, and is the catalyst for the never-ending search for The Holy Grail. It's a crap shoot. For some, like me, the search can last thru many $addle$ and styles of set-up. I'm pretty well dialed-in at this point, thus my advice. For those recommending recumbents: very cool bikes and a good suggestion for alot of people. I think I see a slow paradigm shift as many more of us reach the Age of Pain.
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Old 04-03-07, 12:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoebeisis
Well, I have to respectifully disagree. Our soft parts-the parts between our anus and genitals didn't evolve to be weight bearing. The nerves/arteries/ veins(which almost always run together-everywhere) just can't take the constant pressure.
I had to tilt the nose waaay down, and use a much taller stem and old fashioned bars to keep riding.I had a dual problem-neck and soft parts.
I agree that just tilting the nose waaaay down will put more weight on your arms/hands, and it will feel "odd" at 1st.
Traditional "racing/touring" type saddles-even the Brooks ones-have you balanced on the 3"x6" area from your butt to the buried part of your penis(or the female comparable anatomy). Yes, increasing the surface area will decrease the pressure on any given area.Yes, a nice elastic leather saddle that eventually "breaks in" to your anatomy, can drop the pressure. Still, if you have numbness in that area, you have to ask yourself," do I really want to put that area at risk". If you tilt the nose waaay down, you take all the force off the soft parts. You can also modify a saddle, or buy one of those 2 piece ones like my wife uses.
Wishyou was me-I would try a sliightly firm gel saddle.It is true that the soft gel saddles are a bit too soft-you sink in too far and end up putting too much pressure in one place.
I had to set all my bikes up like this. This one actually has a more gentle cant than my others.
Folks who ride because they have to rarely use flat bars, and never use drop bars.They use the same bars that all our 1950's Schwinns had-bolt upright.The bolt upright posture naturally takes weight off the soft parts.1 billion Chinese can't be wrong. The drop bars are just because we have been sold a racing look-it just isn't practical for most of us.The flat bars are an improvement, but still not so comfortable for older bodies.
Luck,
Charlie
I can't argue with what works for you. However, it partly depends on the style of riding. The upright posture and raised moustache bars you are advocating actually put more weight on your butt, which is why they are traditionally matched with a springy, broad triangular seat. This is fine for very casual riders or for non-performance utility riders like the billion Chinese, Dutch commuters etc.; but this setup is best suited to fairly low speeds and/or short trips. At high speeds it's not aerodynamic, and I find it harder to pedal with sustained effort. If the OP is interested in longer, faster, sportier riding, he may find that upright position tiring.
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Old 04-03-07, 01:41 PM   #15
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jcm,
I had my hands on a recumbent bike for several weeks a while back.-I loved it- it was a cool orange color aluminum frame,very light-name escapes me-with dual front wheels, disc brakes-waaaaay cool fun bike.Pricy too, it sold used-for $2100+ shipping on ebay. Absolutely the only downsides would be the increased width, and the lower height which would make you more likely to get run down by some cell phone using idiot. I think many recumbent riders have a tall flag for just that reason.
Cooker, no question the bolt upright position is much, much slower, and it takes more energy to go the same distance.Just as you say, it is the position for someone who is riding 1-5 miles to work or the store or whatever.It isn't a 20+ mile posture(roughly 1.5-2 hours upright-I probably ride 10-13 mph upright).
It isn't for athletic pursuits.
I ride mainly for fun, exercise, and to save some gas money and car wear and tear, so upright it right for me. When I was younger I used drop bars 100 psi clinchers(or worse flat free "kinda" pneumatic tires that would loosen your fillings) and rode to work 10 miles each way.Now, that would kill me.
The wide saddles I use do claim to be semi sprung with a really stiff gel foam under the softer gel. The cheapest sprung seats are sprung so tightly that the absolutely don't move-might as well not have springs.
I seem to remember that the old Brit spring saddles actually had obvious give to them, and maybe a 1/4" of "travel"-they actually worked-a lot like a good suspension seatpost without the stiction.
I'm not too fond of the mustache bars-they dont have enough rise or enough bend.I like my hands to be relaxed-about 45 or so degrees-roughly the way they naturally fall at my sides.They are usually a rip off price wise-these aluminum Dimension cruiser bars are $16 at Jenson-the Mustache bars are usually 2x that.
Oh well,
Charlie
PS As crude as it sounds, I like to be able to reach my hand between my legs and be able to reach my -without any soft part touching-the equivalent of a 3" wide love channel.
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Old 04-04-07, 11:12 AM   #16
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Hola. If you have a GOOD LBS around, you might have them pop your bike up on a trainer, and observe your riding position and technique. I've read the literature on bike fit and riding technique, but having a qualified person observe your stance on the bike, make some fit adjustments, and critique your pedalling form can be really beneficial.

The numbness could be related to bike fit, bad saddle positioning, or perhaps that particular saddle doesn't jive with how your body is built. Your bike dealer sounds more like a salesman than a problem-solver. My LBS, after I described my knee trouble, insisted they observe my pedalling technique, and solved my problem for me.
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Old 04-04-07, 06:09 PM   #17
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Your bike dealer sounds more like a salesman than a problem-solver. My LBS, after I described my knee trouble, insisted they observe my pedalling technique, and solved my problem for me.
I was thinking that, too. I had a fitting at Cronometro in Madison, WI before I moved away and it was the best money I've ever spent on cycling. No new equipment, just a few adjustments - back pain, shoulder aches, knee soreness all gone.

If the numbness continues, you might want to talk with a urologist - which, I know, is right up there at the top of the list of things we'd all just love to do.

I suggest the urologist visit b/c I had to see one a while back for some pain I was having and thought was cycling related. Turns out, it wasn't. The urologist I saw was a cyclist, too. He figured out what was wrong and saved me another month of taking cipro.
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Old 04-04-07, 08:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
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jcm,
I had my hands on a recumbent bike for several weeks a while back.-I loved it- it was a cool orange color aluminum frame,very light-name escapes me-with dual front wheels, disc brakes-waaaaay cool fun bike..
That wasn't a bike, it was a trike.
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Old 04-07-07, 07:00 AM   #19
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I was thinking that, too. I had a fitting at Cronometro in Madison, WI before I moved away and it was the best money I've ever spent on cycling. No new equipment, just a few adjustments - back pain, shoulder aches, knee soreness all gone.

If the numbness continues, you might want to talk with a urologist - which, I know, is right up there at the top of the list of things we'd all just love to do.

I suggest the urologist visit b/c I had to see one a while back for some pain I was having and thought was cycling related. Turns out, it wasn't. The urologist I saw was a cyclist, too. He figured out what was wrong and saved me another month of taking cipro.
I'm suffering the same problem as the OP, and in fact have had it off and on for nearly a week and a half. I've been discussing the problem on my blog. Any comments, aside from "stop riding", are welcome.
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Old 04-07-07, 07:12 AM   #20
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Of course there can be many causes such as bike fit, posture, etc. IMHO though it's usually the saddle is too narrow, too soft, or both.
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Old 04-07-07, 07:30 AM   #21
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Just keep riding, it will pass. By pass, I mean the more you ride, the longer you will be able to ride without having the occurence.
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Old 04-07-07, 07:50 AM   #22
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Both my bikes have a saddle with the middle cut out. No numbness.

Commuter bike saddle:




Road bike saddle:
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