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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been going numb in the saddle a lot recently, which I find alarming, to say the least. I ride a Cannondale R 900 which was set up at the shop where I purchased the bike by an experienced tech who is about my size, 6'3" and a couple of pounds over 200. Recently I've been able to push myself on the road, thanks to cardiac ablation surgeries that seem to have fixed a problem I've had for the last ten years, atrial fibrillation. Now that I'm getting in better shape, my riding posture has improved. I ride down on the drops most of the time, and use the aero bars that were recently installed for a couple of miles at a time, traffic and terrain permitting. Since I've been riding lower, I've noticed frequent numbness, which while I've read is not uncommon, cannot be good. I'd like to avoid complicating any plumbing issues that are a natural consequence of the aging process; I'm 53, and hope to continue riding to the best of my ability for some years to come. Would someone explain what's happening, and what I might do to avoid it? Thanks!
 

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Mikhail said:
I've been going numb in the saddle a lot recently, which I find alarming, to say the least. I ride a Cannondale R 900 which was set up at the shop where I purchased the bike by an experienced tech who is about my size, 6'3" and a couple of pounds over 200. Recently I've been able to push myself on the road, thanks to cardiac ablation surgeries that seem to have fixed a problem I've had for the last ten years, atrial fibrillation. Now that I'm getting in better shape, my riding posture has improved. I ride down on the drops most of the time, and use the aero bars that were recently installed for a couple of miles at a time, traffic and terrain permitting. Since I've been riding lower, I've noticed frequent numbness, which while I've read is not uncommon, cannot be good. I'd like to avoid complicating any plumbing issues that are a natural consequence of the aging process; I'm 53, and hope to continue riding to the best of my ability for some years to come. Would someone explain what's happening, and what I might do to avoid it? Thanks!
My guess it you're sliding forward a little compared to before to get into the new lower postion thus taking pressure off your sit bones and on to that area. You could try tilting your saddle back slightly.
 

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How much are you getting out of the saddle?

A lot of people stay seated more than they should, which can restrict blood flow. If you are not getting out of the saddle on a semi-regular basis, give it a try and see if it helps. If you spend a lot of time in your aero bars, chances are you're not getting out of the saddle much.
 

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Check into ISM saddles. I bought one a few months ago and it 100% solved this issue for me. You can google them and read about them. They look a little different and it is very important that you set it up properly as the video on the website instructs. I have the ISM road saddle.
 

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Hank Stamper said:
My guess it you're sliding forward a little compared to before to get into the new lower postion thus taking pressure off your sit bones and on to that area. You could try tilting your saddle back slightly.


+1 very likely...try it before spending money

**
 

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Mikhail said:
Now that I'm getting in better shape, my riding posture has improved. I ride down on the drops most of the time, and use the aero bars that were recently installed for a couple of miles at a time, traffic and terrain permitting. Since I've been riding lower, I've noticed frequent numbness, which while I've read is not uncommon, cannot be good. !
If ridng down in the drops causes a problem, why not just sit up, be more comfortable, and enjoy the ride?

Read some some of Grant Petersen's (Rivendell) rants about non-racers forcing themselves into uncomfortable positons with handlebars too low.
 

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Standard advice

Mikhail said:
I've been going numb in the saddle a lot recently, which I find alarming, to say the least. I ride a Cannondale R 900 which was set up at the shop where I purchased the bike by an experienced tech who is about my size, 6'3" and a couple of pounds over 200. Recently I've been able to push myself on the road, thanks to cardiac ablation surgeries that seem to have fixed a problem I've had for the last ten years, atrial fibrillation. Now that I'm getting in better shape, my riding posture has improved. I ride down on the drops most of the time, and use the aero bars that were recently installed for a couple of miles at a time, traffic and terrain permitting. Since I've been riding lower, I've noticed frequent numbness, which while I've read is not uncommon, cannot be good. I'd like to avoid complicating any plumbing issues that are a natural consequence of the aging process; I'm 53, and hope to continue riding to the best of my ability for some years to come. Would someone explain what's happening, and what I might do to avoid it? Thanks!
There are 7 factors in preventing saddle numbness and pain:

1) saddle adjustment - tilt angle is very important

2) sitting properly - a lot of people ride too far forward on the saddle. Your "sit bones" should be perched on the rear, wide part of the saddle

3) standing up - you should never let things go numb or get painful. At the first sign of any lack of feeling or pain, pedal standing up for a short distance and repeat as necessary to bring the feeling back and prevent further numbness

4) easing up - you want to lift your butt off the saddle any time you are going to hit a bump or sharp edge. It's easier on your anatomy, your wheels, your tires, and the rest of your bike.

5) bike fit: in addition to saddle height and tilt, there is fore/aft adjustment, reach and drop to the bars, cleat position.

6) tires: proper width with the right PSI for your weight and roads so you don't feel every single road imperfection.

7) saddle - there are some people who can ride most any saddle if it is properly adjusted (see #1) and there are some people who have problems with nearly any saddle. It's hard to predict which type you are. Work on 1-6 and if that doesn't help, THEN consider a new saddle.

The standard advice to cure numbness is to tip the nose down, but having discussed this topic many times, it seems that some people are not sitting properly on their saddles. You need to have a saddle and saddle position that has your sit bones on the butt of the saddle. If your saddle nose is tipped down too far, it may cause you to slide forward. If it is tipped up too far, it may be causing pressure. And if you can't get things right in between these points, it may be that you are not sitting in the right spot or that the saddle doesn't fit you. IME, the range of saddle tilt goes from "nose level" to saddle level. Nose level means that for most saddles, the butt of the saddle is elevated (this is how I ride). Saddle level means that a level placed on the saddle would have the nose and butt level, which may create a hammock effect in the middle. Your personal comfort has to rule on where to place things in this range. Also, fore/aft position can influence comfort - it is a trade between pedaling style and the how much you lean on the bars vs. sit on the saddle.
 

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are you sitting right on the saddle ?

try to seat right on it, that means seat with your torso as perpendicular as possible to the saddle and then bend your back to go down on the drops but keeping your lower back as perpendicular as possible. Your sitbones are then planted firmly on the sadle you are sitting right and your back is curved. I find this is the right way to sit. and this solved my numbness problems

the wrong way which I see very often is that people sit on the saddle and then lower the full torso using the hips as a hinge, their backs are not curved but straight. The result is that you put pressure on the perineal area.

when you are sitting right you can feel a bit of air between your genitals and the saddle, even very low. when you are sitting wrong you will feel pressure and the more down you go the worse.

A common way to try to solve the "problem" when in the wrong position, is to lower the tip of the saddle, this simply puts your weight more forward and you have some relief when sitting with your torso high but as soon as you go down you end pushing your genitals against the saddle anyway.
 

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how long have you had your current saddle?

I just ask because my last saddle lasted about a year, and then it got too flexy, thus not providing enough support and making me go numb.

I recently got a Selle SMP, and so far, it has cured my numbing issues.
 

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I was having the same problem and fixed it by adjusting the tilt angle on my saddle. The tip of the saddle was pointing up slightly (hardly noticeable). I used a leveler (actually a leveler iPhone app) to level the saddle and haven't had that problem again.
 

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Good advice above, so follow that first. If you find you do need a new saddle, I recommend the Selle SMP Trk saddle. I had the same numbness problem for any rides over 40 miles and moving the saddle did not help the problem. I replaced my old saddle with the Trk saddle and since have had no problem. I did a 60 mile ride yesterday with a lot of milage on my aerobars and still had no numbness.
 

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No

Salsa_Lover said:
seat with your torso as perpendicular as possible to the saddle and then bend your back to go down on the drops but keeping your lower back as perpendicular as possible. Your sitbones are then planted firmly on the sadle you are sitting right and your back is curved. I find this is the right way to sit. and this solved my numbness problems

the wrong way which I see very often is that people sit on the saddle and then lower the full torso using the hips as a hinge, their backs are not curved but straight. The result is that you put pressure on the perineal area.
If what you are saying were correct, then virtually every rider on a road bike would be in the wrong position. There is no way that most people can keep their hips tilted as though they were sitting bolt upright and then bend their back so that they can reach the bars. If you watch professional riders, a large fraction of them ride with the "flat back" position that you say is totally wrong. I'm not saying it doesn't work for you, I'm just saying you're wrong to make this blanket recommendation.

I ride with a flat back, mostly in the drops, and with a properly adjusted saddle never experience numbness.
 

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here is the paradox

it would be maybe physiologically impossible to do what I am saying, that is to keep your lower back perpendicular and your uper back flat.

but what I am saying actually works, if you take care on sitting right and then bending your back, you'll have a better position than simply bending the full body as I see so often.

Your back won't be 90° down and 0° up, but would be much better than 30° ( or lower ) where you will be pushing your genitals against the saddle.

Off course you have to improve your flexibility and this is a progresive task,
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks to all for the advice. Whenever I start to feel numbness, I do get out of the seat and pedal a short while, which works pretty well. I'm going to check out the adjustments you've mentioned; I know my geometry has changed a little with my stronger posture, it stands to reason that I'm hitting the seat differently. As far as sitting up more is concerned, I'm trying to go faster, now that I'm able to push harder. Wind is usually an issue where live and ride (coastal southern New Jersey), and it can really beat me down, so I try to stay as aerodynamic as possible. I always ride alone, trying to maintain an average speed of 20 MPH over a 25-30 mile course; at my age and under the aforementioned conditions, I have to work to make that happen. Funny thing about the wind; it never seems to help me as much when it's favorable as it inhibits me when going against it. Anyway, thanks again for the suggestions; much appreciated!
 
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