As a cyclist, you would encounter a couple of problems and challenges. This article will be addressing chafing.
Chafing is a problem that’s common to quite a lot of cyclists. It’s usually as a result of some parts of your body, especially the thighs, rubbing against the seat of the bicycle.
You can say chafing is a by-product of friction. If you would like to avoid chafing, here are some helpful tips on how to prevent chafing while biking.
What is Chafing?
Chafing starts out as a mild irritation of the affected skin. There’s some unusual color and accompanying pain.
When the sides of your thighs get continuously rubbed against the bike seat, there’s a production of friction which leads to chafing after a prolonged repetition of the rubbing action. You can’t really avoid this rubbing action as your legs move up and down when you pedal your bike.
There could be much more serious cases of chafing when the irritation persists and morphs into an extreme form of inflammation. At this stage/level, there could be a risk of secondary fungal infection to that region. Some people are even asking if cycling can cause hemorrhoids, which we have answered in another post.
If you’re ever in this situation, you need to take a break and stop cycling till your skin heals. I recommend that you make use of a steroid cream as part of your treatment.
How to Prevent Chafing While Biking
It doesn’t matter whether cycling is aerobic or anaerobic. Here are some great methods that will help you prevent chafing when cycling:
1. Adjust Your Bike Saddle
There are times when you just have to change your bike saddle. This is usually if the bike saddle is very heavily padded.
Heavy padding of a saddle increases the chances of you getting chafed from the developed friction. Your laps press against the saddle because of your weight, and the saddle reciprocates this action equally against your laps. The result of this is a bad rubbing reaction and sore thighs.
If you won’t be changing your saddle, then consider changing its position. Setting your saddle to the right position will make biking less painful.
Your saddle has to be placed in such a way that you don’t get pushed around on the seat as you ride. To achieve this, ensure that the saddle is positioned in a straight, forward manner.
2. Wear Bike Shorts
Chafing problems start with picking out the wrong shorts. The shorts you wear while biking are a very important factor to consider. Unavoidably, your biking shorts are always constantly rubbing up against your skin. You should also compliment the bike shorts with a cycling pad (chamois). A cycling pad is inserted in the groin area to protect the groin from friction generated by prolonged riding periods.
When going shopping for a pair of bike shorts, which you should if you haven’t thought of doing so, make sure that you pick out a pair that’s your perfect size.
A pair of shorts that’s too big for you would only worsen the chafing problem. Ensure you spend your money on getting quality stuff. The better the quality, the more you will enjoy the shorts.
3. Switch Your Riding Position
This is more like an option for when you’ve tried everything else and you still need to prevent chafing while biking. If you are riding your cheap foldable bike and you get that uncomfortable chafing feeling, you can just try changing position from time to time.
As you go along riding, you can try some positions like standing upright from the saddle for a while. You can periodically shift left and right, or forward and backward on the saddle.
This isn’t such a great solution as it comes with its own inconveniences. Just ensure you take better preventive measures such as getting quality gravel tires on your gravel bike under 1000 next time you’re about to set out on a cycling exercise.
4. Clean Up Everything
We all know how harmful bacteria can be. We’ve always been warned about bacteria since we were kids. It’s no surprise that these guys (bacteria) can play a big role in worsening an existent case of chafing.
To avoid any complications due to bacterial infection, you are advised to take a good shower after you return home from biking. Scrubbing and cleaning your body properly would go a long way in combating and killing off harmful bacteria.
Remember the chamois pad? There’s also chamois cream. Chamois cream is effective in reducing friction that causes chafing. Rub a good amount of the cream on the parts of your body, especially your thighs, which would constantly come in contact with the bike saddle when you’re riding.
There are a lot of chamois cream brands to choose from. Feel free to try different ones out as you go shopping.
5. Change Your Bike Shorts Regularly
Try as much as possible to be neat. Neatness is a great addition in the fight against irritations, sores, chafing, and bacterial infections. As soon as you return from a cycling trip, make sure you wash your bike shorts. This would remove sweat and dirt that facilitate the development of bacteria.
When washing, make sure that the regions that are associated with constant rubbing against your skin get special attention. Wash out those spots well with a good detergent for maximum cleanliness.
You should buy more than just a pair of biking shorts. Owning multiple pairs gives you the luxury of changing into a different pair every now and then. This would also facilitate neatness and good health.
How to Treat Chafed Skin
If you didn’t get quick help on how to prevent chafing while biking and you are already chafed, here are some tips for treating chafed skin.
Aside from taking some time out to let your skin heal, you should also ensure that you’re eating good food. Eating a good, balanced diet will facilitate the healing process and boost your immune system.
You can also make use of chamomile ointment in your treatment. Before you apply the chamomile ointment to the affected area, clean affected areas with lukewarm water. This prevents infection. Chamomile oil facilitates healing and possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties.
Also, you need to watch out for weight gain. When your skin folds, it constitutes a chafing prone region. Your weight plays a key role in your health. Don’t let your weight get in the way of your cycling.
You can cover up the chafed region with a small bandage if the chafed area is small. This protects the skin and stops any further chafing. If the affected area is swollen, crusted, bleeding, or abnormally painful, you have to see a health professional. Antibiotics might be needed to treat infected skin areas.