Don’t overlook the importance of bike seats

Along with fair weather and extended daylight hours comes an opportunity for increased fitness activities. Many have already begun to tune up their bicycles in preparation for an evening ride or a daily commute.

An often overlooked but essential component to any tune-up or purchase is the bicycle seat.
The perineum is the anatomic region located at the base of the pelvis. It absorbs the pressure of the torso on a standard bicycle seat. Irritation from a poorly-fitted bicycle seat and inappropriate attire can be painful. In addition, impaired blood flow to reproductive organs can lead to dysfunction.

Lance Armstrong’s battle with testicular cancer has raised suspicion of a correlation between cycling and this potentially deadly disease. No clear relationship has ever been established in the scientific literature.

Pressure on the pudendal nerves and arteries reduces sensation and circulation to male genitalia. Longer rides can result in persistent symptoms and urinary tract difficulties in both men and women.

Bicycles seats have evolved from rudimentary cushions with springs to high-tech leather saddles that can cost up to $500.

“Many people make the crucial mistake of buying a wide seat thinking it is more comfortable. Unfortunately, the extra width places painful traction on the pelvis after an extended ride,” said Tom Girard, sales manager at Zane’s Cycles in Branford.

One of the newer design innovations includes an indentation that runs the length of the seat to accommodate nerves and blood vessels.

Girard recommends purchasing a seat that fits the individual, based on some simple measurements. Many companies sell padded shorts designed to fit the style of the seat.

When choosing the components for a new bicycle or tuning up an old favorite, careful attention to the seat can make a cycling workout much more comfortable.

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