Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating and enjoyable experience. Still, it can also take a toll on your body, particularly your buttocks, in the form of a good old-fashioned saddle sore. I will use the terms bum and butt interchangeably to be inclusive of UK riders with saddle soreness. Long hours of sitting on the motorcycle seat can lead to numbness or soreness in the buttocks, making the ride uncomfortable and even painful. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent and treat this common issue. This article by California motorcycle lawyer, Michael Ehline, will discuss how to prevent and treat motorcycle riders’ butt, including saddle sores from motorcycle riding.
The Anatomy of the Buttocks and Saddle Sores
Before diving into preventing and treating a numb or sore bum from motorcycle riding, it is important to understand the anatomy of the buttocks and your upper body. The buttocks are made up of three muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, which work together to support the hips and legs. The gluteus maximus connects with sensitive areas, remains the largest muscle in the body, and is responsible for the movement of the hips, thighs, and legs in general.
Bum soreness can be caused for many reasons, leading to erectile dysfunction and other problems with your groin area. Your type of bike saddle and even your body shape and body weight can all play a role in lower back pain, saddle soreness, and the pressure placed on your piriformis muscle, even as you adjust or rest your nether regions on the seat. The riding position is something motorcycle riders learn early on, as well as having some chamois cream on hand for saddle sores on longer rides. Seeing a physician is not always necessary. Whether you remain pain-free in your lower body depends on more than just your bike saddle, including basic self-care, as will be discussed.
Common Causes of Saddle Sores from Motorcycle Riding
Several factors can contribute to numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding. For example, sitting upright may cause riders to shift their weight to their so-called “sit bones.” Even with padded cycling shorts, you can still come down with piriformis syndrome.
The most common causes of saddle soreness include:
- Pressure on the buttocks: Sitting on a motorcycle seat for long hours can put pressure on the buttocks, and sciatic nerve, leading to numbness and soreness at pressure points, causing bum pain in your soft tissue (aka saddle sores). Taking regular breaks can help, but not always in extreme cases. Broken or open skin can also occur, making antibiotic cream a must when traveling long distances. Saddle choice and even extra foam padding may be something you look for at the bike shop to reduce the risk of saddle sores.
- Vibration: The vibration from the motorcycle engine can cause the muscles in the buttocks to tense up, leading to discomfort, chafing, and bum pain in the affected area.
- Poor posture: Slouching or leaning forward on the motorcycle can put additional pressure on the buttocks, leading to numbness and soreness, especially during long-distance riding.
- Improper seat height: If the motorcycle seat is too high or too low, it can lead to discomfort and pain in the glutes, hamstrings, or knee area, a recurring problem connected with saddle sores.
Keep in mind that British cycling often involves soft tissue irritation during rainy weather. So bring some extra dry underwear and a seat cover for long periods of riding in inclement weather through Scotland and London, for example. Cyclists need to stay dry and understand the exercise, energy, and core strength needed for road trips. Balance everything, and sometimes try standing on the pedals to get some wind and a better position with the cushioning against a saddle sore. Understand the risk of infection from bacteria and keep the area clean after riding to keep any infection from spreading.
Prevention of Saddle Sore Sit-Bones from Motorcycle Riding
Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding.
Here are some tips to help prevent this common health issue:
- Take breaks: Take frequent breaks during long rides to stretch your legs and relieve pressure on the buttocks to prevent saddle sores.
- Choose the right seat: Invest in a comfortable motorcycle seat that is designed to reduce pressure on the buttocks as the miles pass you by.
- Wear padded shorts: Padded shorts can help reduce pressure on the buttocks and provide additional comfort during long rides in tandem with a great bike saddle.
- Maintain good posture: Sit up straight and avoid leaning forward or slouching on the motorcycle as a way to fight saddle sores.
Treatment of Numb or Sore Buttocks from Motorcycle Riding
If you are already experiencing numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding, there are several ways to treat the issue:
- Stretching: Simple stretching exercises can help relieve tension in the muscles of the buttocks and alleviate discomfort.
- Massage: Massaging the buttocks can help reduce tension and improve blood flow, which can alleviate numbness and soreness.
- Ice or heat therapy: Applying ice or heat to the buttocks can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Over-the-counter pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate pain and discomfort.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding can be treated with simple home remedies.
However, if the issue persists or becomes severe, it may be necessary to see a doctor. You should see a doctor if:
- The numbness or soreness persists for more than a few days despite home remedies.
- You experience other symptoms, such as weakness, tingling, or loss of sensation in the buttocks.
- The pain is severe.
If the pain from numb or sore buttocks becomes severe, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Severe pain could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as a herniated disc, sciatica, or spinal stenosis.
Diagnosis and Prognosis
When you see a doctor for severe pain, they will likely perform a physical examination and ask about your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle habits. They may also order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to help diagnose the cause of your pain.
Treatment for severe pain may include prescription pain medication, physical therapy, or in some cases, surgery. Following your doctor’s instructions closely is important and continuing any prescribed treatments until the pain is resolved.
The Importance of Proper Motorcycle Fit
One of the most important factors in preventing numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding is ensuring that your motorcycle fits you properly. Reduce friction and reduce pressure as much as possible for a long ride and proper bike fit and cushion.
Proper fit can help reduce pressure on the buttocks and prevent discomfort and pain. Here are some tips for ensuring a proper motorcycle fit:
- Choose the right seat height: The height of the motorcycle seat should allow your feet to touch the ground comfortably when you are sitting on the motorcycle.
- Adjust the handlebars: The handlebars should be adjusted so that you can sit up straight without slouching or leaning forward.
- Adjust the footpegs: The footpegs should be adjusted so that your legs are at a comfortable angle and your feet are not cramped.
- Use the right motorcycle size: The motorcycle should be appropriate for your height and weight to ensure proper fit and comfort.
Numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding can be a common issue, but it can be prevented and treated with the right measures. Taking frequent breaks, choosing a comfortable seat, maintaining good posture, and using padded shorts can all help prevent numb or sore buttocks from motorcycle riding. If you are already experiencing discomfort, stretching, massage, ice or heat therapy, and over-the-counter pain medication can provide relief. It is important to seek medical attention if the pain is severe or persists for an extended period of time. Finally, ensuring that your motorcycle fits you properly is key to preventing discomfort and pain while riding.