Many people wonder if cycling is safe for the pelvic floor muscles and if it's possible to ride a bike with urinary incontinence. We tested how cycling affects the pelvic floor muscles and prepared practical tips for you!
How does cycling affect the pelvic floor muscles?
During cycling, your perineum is constantly under pressure. This increases tension in the pelvic floor muscles and compresses nerves and blood vessels. As a result, the pelvic floor muscles may not receive adequate blood flow and may not function properly - leading to difficulties in contracting and relaxing the muscles. The consequences may include pain, numbness in the perineal area, infections, urinary incontinence, and sexual dysfunctions.
How to protect the pelvic floor during cycling?
Choosing the right saddle depends on various factors, including the length and type of routes and the style of riding. For recreational cycling, wider seats are typically used, while narrower ones are preferred for sports riding.
How does the type of saddle affect the pelvic floor? Researchers observed the pressure exerted on the perineum during cycling by comparing different types of saddles. It was noticed that the narrower the saddle (with cutouts), the greater the pressure on the perineum.
Saddle A - full, Saddle B - with cutouts (Guess et al.)
Currently, there are many types of saddles available on the market, and their manufacturers care about our comfort during the ride. Even narrow saddles often have special cutouts designed to increase blood flow within the perineal tissues.
Remember, it's worth choosing the right saddle that takes into account anatomical factors (e.g., the spacing of sit bones), the types of routes you'll be riding on, and the specific properties of the saddle. This is particularly important if you ride a lot. Select the appropriate saddle for yourself, preferably with the help of a specialized store where you can test many types of saddles.
Position and Riding Technique
A low handlebar setting that forces a forward tilt of the torso increases the anterior tilt of the pelvis during cycling and enhances pressure on the perineum.
Bike fitting is becoming increasingly popular, involving an analysis of your body position during cycling and the adjustment of various bike components, such as saddle height or handlebar position.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
You don't have to give up activities you enjoy. It's essential to be aware of what your muscles need, for example, after a bike ride. Right after the workout, they'll need relaxation, but to restore or maintain their proper function, strengthening exercises will be necessary. In this case, isolated pelvic floor muscle training can be highly beneficial.
Try the new pelvic floor muscle training with the PelviFly Boost app designed for active women.
The 3-minute pelvic floor muscle training with Boost was created by Dr. Ula Herman and aims to help you regenerate your muscles after intense physical activity. In this exercise, you work at an individual tension of up to 30% of your current strength calculated after the muscle test. You control the game with your pelvic floor muscles in a multisensory training. Additionally, Ula included therapeutic and pain-relieving vibrations with a 50Hz protocol in the training, which will increase blood flow in the pelvic blood vessels and make the tissues more flexible.