Those with the endurance sports mindset typically view pain as temporary. Truly dedicated to their sport, they have learned to push through it, always wanting to improve upon their personal best. Yet for some in the cycling community, cycling pain becomes chronic and debilitating, impacting not only their ability to participate in an active lifestyle, but affecting their personal lives as well.
Cycling knee pain and cycling back pain are common among bicyclists. But less discussed is cycling’s impact on both male and female sexual function.
Cycling and Male Genital Pain and Numbness
Sometimes called “Cyclist’s Syndrome,” testicle pain and groin pain can be caused by chronic pressure against the saddle, which constricts blood flow and compresses the pudendal nerve, a sensitive nerve cluster in the perineum (the area between the legs). Pudendal nerve entrapment and pudendal neuralgia are both seen in male cyclists.
The effects of prolonged or frequent cycling on neurological and sexual function in men include genital pain and/or genital numbness. The good news: current research essentially debunks the myth that cycling directly causes erectile dysfunction, or ED. In a study of more than 5,282 male cyclists ranging in age from 16 to 88 published in the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Men’s Health, there was no connection found between cycling and erectile dysfunction (or even infertility) no matter how many miles and/or hours the men logged each week—even among those cranking out more than 8.5 hours or 200 miles a week in the saddle.
In the medical and biking communities, a consensus has been reached about cycling and bicycle saddles; for some, chronic compression of the male genital area results in compromised blood flow, vascular occlusion, nerve entrapment or nerve injury. This will result in genital pain and/or genital numbness.
To avoid cycling testicle and cycling groin pain, choose a saddle that relieves pressure on the pudendal nerve, shifting weight to the two bottom points of your pelvis, the "ischial tuberosities" or sit bones. And make sure your bike is adjusted properly to reduce back, hip, and knee tension while pedaling.
The Feldenkrais Method can help alleviate the painful symptoms of pudendal nerve irritation. By addressing your particular dysfunctions in movement, your nerve and soft tissue and blood vessel impairments can be reduced and restored.
Female Genital Pain while Cycling
Women cyclists should not underestimate the effects of prolonged cycling on neurological genital sensation and health.
Female genital pain while cycling typically is caused by a poorly fitted saddle. A saddle that is not built to accommodate a woman’s proportions or bone structure exerts pressure on the soft tissue of the female genital area. Not meant to bear weight, chronic compression of this tissue may lead to compromised blood flow and nerve injury resulting in cycling clitoral pain.
Many women experience genital pain while cycling. Whereas sit bones are designed to withstand body weight and pressure, the soft-tissue of your genitals are not. Exerting excessive pressure on this area can cause intense genital pain and numbness.
To avoid female pain while cycling, choose a seat designed specifically for women. A seat that removes pressure from the genital nerves and arteries and shifts it to the sit bones, will help to avoid cycling clitoral pain and promote long-term genital health.
If you have female pain while cycling, the Feldenkrais Method can help. We provide techniques that reduce or eliminate vulvar pain syndromes by addressing muscle tension and spasms in the pelvic floor.
Relieve Cycling Pain
At The Feldenkrais Center, you will receive one-on-one therapy in a gentle, safe, non-invasive environment.
There are many sources of cycling pain, just as there are many muscles, ligaments and nerves that run through this sensitive area. With Feldenkrais, we customize a treatment specific to your individualized cycling pain. You will learn to relieve the pain of chronically contracted and spastic muscles of the pelvic floor and stop the dysfunction of the nervous system that feeds and perpetuates your chronic or flaring cycling pain.
The Feldenkrais Method provides a long-term solution to chronic cycling pain without the use of medications, injections or surgery.
If your saddle is properly fitted and you practice good riding technique, but continue to suffer cycling pain, groin pain, or genital pain and numbness while cycling, treatment at the Feldenkrais Center can enable you to ride again at full capacity.