saddles and sciatica

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Phill
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saddles and sciatica

Postby Phill » 21 Jun 2013, 11:58am

Hi. Can anyone advise me on the following. I bought a new bike for my 64th birthday 18 months ago. I'm really pleased with it - it's a Merida SPresso with flat handlebars, disc brakes and 8-speed hub gears. I've noticed however that the saddle leaves me numb around the marriage tackle after a decent ride. Even more worrying, I've now experienced for the first time in my life the symptoms of sciatica - back pain with numb and tingly legs (luckily, no leg pain so far). I'm assuming this is a consequence of my saddle - a Selle Italia X2 - and am considering buying a new one. Has anyone had similar experiences and overcome them? What might be the best saddle in my circumstances?
My second question is straightforward: I have a Brooks B17 saddle on my other bike which I have treated with complete indifference since I bought it about 15 years ago. I now realise the error of my ways and have bought a Brooks Saddle care kit. I've applied the Proofide. How can I tell though if the saddle is properly tensioned? How much "give" should there be?
Thanks for your help.
Phill
Last edited by Vorpal on 22 Jun 2013, 8:38am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: clarity

andrewjoseph
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby andrewjoseph » 21 Jun 2013, 4:43pm

the brooks saddle should be comfortable for you, no-one can tell you what tension is best.

the other thing is that it may not be the saddle that is the main cause of the sciatica. it may be several things.

one thing to think about is your position. if you are sitting quite upright, then bumps are transmitted straight up your back. if you lean forward more, your spine is 'suspended'.

physio may help more than the saddle.
--
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Gearoidmuar
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby Gearoidmuar » 21 Jun 2013, 5:48pm

Is the [unpleasant word removed] fore or aft?
There is a RARE form of sciatica caused by the piriformis muscle, but that's unlikely.
Numbness in the fore unpleasant word removed is caused by pressure on the perineum which is often due to the shape of the saddle OR it being too narrow for you.
Numbness around the aft unpleasant word removed can be just due to the pressure spreading effect of gel. Gel does not suit everyones aft unpleasant word removed.
Whoever wrote the software which makes a question incomprehensible has made an unpleasant word removed of the thing!

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531colin
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby 531colin » 21 Jun 2013, 6:02pm

shouldn't be too hard to find out...

<various words removed by moderator>

Sorry, Mods., just exploring the stupidity of the software....please remove if you really want to.... :wink:
Last edited by 531colin on 21 Jun 2013, 6:09pm, edited 1 time in total.

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531colin
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby 531colin » 21 Jun 2013, 6:08pm

A Brooks shouldn't sag like a hammock, but firm-ish pressure from the heel of the hand should flex it.
Mine survive tolerably well on a diet of complete indifference (apart from not getting them soaked)

Ant
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby Ant » 21 Jun 2013, 6:08pm

This is already my favourite ever thread!

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531colin
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby 531colin » 21 Jun 2013, 6:10pm

Ant wrote:This is already my favourite ever thread!


Sorry....long day fitting skirting board......

Ant
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby Ant » 21 Jun 2013, 6:14pm

Don't apologise, I'm micturating myself here :D

reohn2
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby reohn2 » 21 Jun 2013, 8:13pm

Phill
Before doing anything drastic,I'd consider lowering the saddle 5mm(yes that's all)and see if it helps.
BTW is it level,none Brooks or hammock type leather saddles are more often than not better level.
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DevonDamo
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby DevonDamo » 21 Jun 2013, 11:21pm

Noseless saddles are the answer to numb nuts.

You will hear old wives tales about how these compromise your control over the bike. They don't.

If you get the right one for you, adjusted right, it will be the most comfortable saddle you've owned as your only posterior contact with the bike will be your sit-bones on a gel pad. No rubbing of thighs or squashed dangly bits/perineum.

In my case, the right saddle is an ISM Sport. I had to use a file to extend the slot in the top of the seat post to allow it to be angled down enough so it didn't dig into the back of my thighs. Since then I've had it a few years, done many miles on it, and had absolutely no problems.

Mistik-ka
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby Mistik-ka » 22 Jun 2013, 4:17am

While the saddle may be the culprit as far as numbness is concerned, it is less likely to be the cause of sciatica. A bulging disk in the lower spine, or less commonly a shifting of one vertebral body on another ("spondylolisthesis") are more likely causes of sciatica, where the disk or part of the vertebral bones press on one or several spinal nerves. The latter two conditions might be caused by the particular way you bend your spine when you're on your bike. In this case a change in layout of the handlebar/seat/crank triangle may go a long way to relieving sciatica: changes in seat height and set-back, or handlebar height and stem length may hold the key. An experienced bike fitter might offer useful guidance, as might a good physiotherapist.

If you're making adjustments yourself, a good principle is to change only one thing at a time, so when you do start to improve the situation (or make it worse) you can identify the adjustment that caused the change.

reohn2
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby reohn2 » 22 Jun 2013, 8:15am

DevonDamo wrote:Noseless saddles are the answer to numb nuts.

You will hear old wives tales about how these compromise your control over the bike. They don't.

If you get the right one for you, adjusted right, it will be the most comfortable saddle you've owned as your only posterior contact with the bike will be your sit-bones on a gel pad. No rubbing of thighs or squashed dangly bits/perineum.

In my case, the right saddle is an ISM Sport. I had to use a file to extend the slot in the top of the seat post to allow it to be angled down enough so it didn't dig into the back of my thighs. Since then I've had it a few years, done many miles on it, and had absolutely no problems.


And some people maintain that a Brooks saddle is the best saddle ever invented,for me it's a Selle Italia Turbomatic 2,we're all slightly different anatomically,we also ride differently,different riding style and position,time on the bike,different terrain,handlebars,etc,etc.
What does for one doesn't do for all.
I can get numb if sat in the saddle on a long climb over say,three to four miles in which case I either stop or get out of the saddle for short while,but as there aren't many climbs that long in the UK it only matters when we're on holiday(France,Italy,etc) where there are long climbs,so generally it doesn't matter.
The rest of the time,no worries.
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reohn2
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby reohn2 » 22 Jun 2013, 8:18am

Mistik-ka wrote:If you're making adjustments yourself, a good principle is to change only one thing at a time, so when you do start to improve the situation (or make it worse) you can identify the adjustment that caused the change.


Spot on.
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Phill
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby Phill » 22 Jun 2013, 8:46am

Dear Forum
What a lot of useful replies! Thanks, everyone. The word that the software removed is an anagram of snipe. I thought I'd use the correct word rather than a euphemism. Next time I'll know better!
Phill

Vorpal
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Re: saddles and sciatica

Postby Vorpal » 22 Jun 2013, 9:07am

Sorry for moderating a rather amusing post... but this is a family forum and all that :oops:

As for sciatica, I would suspect saddle and position together. The nerve for the perineum and the sciatic nerve are probably pinched/compressed together. You can see it in this illustration on Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pudendal_nerve.svg

First question... when you are not pedalling, are your pelvic bones (sit bones) the primary area of contact? If not, the saddle is probably too narrow. If your brooks is comfortable, you might consider trying a Brooks (or Spa equivalent?) that is designed for a more upright position. Someone who likes that type of saddle is in a better position to advise. Alternatively, you could try an 'ergonomic' type saddle with a cut-out for the sensitive parts of your anatomy. Starting with something like the Bikehut (Halfords) £20 version might tell you if that sort of thing is useful.

If your pelvic bones are supporting your weight, when not pedalling, try changing the position of the saddle. A little tilt up or down might improve matters.

And there are a couple of threads about saddle and position...
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=74985&hilit=+position
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=76394&hilit=+position
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