For today's Sports Science Friday, I give you, bicycle seats, or how not to bust a nut.
I'm going to try and get back to the original intent of Sports Science Friday and present some data for you. From Drs. Liebovitch and Mor in the Department of Urology, Meir Medical Center, Affiliated to Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University.
"The Vicious Cycling: Bicycling Related Urogenital Disorders. European Urology, Volume 47, Issue 3, Pages 277-287"
These guys reviewed 62 articles and found the following staggering information about cyclists:
- 50-91% report genital numbness
- 13-24% report erectile dysfunction
Obviously the longer or more frequently you ride, the higher your chance of these types of injuries. Extra points to anyone who can find a story about how the guys in Le Tour manage these issues! I can only imagine the 'enhancements' employed......
Another option is to adjust the type of bicycle seat you choose and how you use it. First, let me direct you to an amazing web page by a Mr. Jim Langley. Well done, sir, well done.
Now you and I call them bike seats, but apparently bike enthusiasts call them "saddles".
There a few general components of the saddle: the nose, the seat, and the seat post. The skinny front of the seat (aka the nose) is very useful because it allows you to move your legs up and down rapidly and increase your rpm's. But, this can lead to chaffing of the thighs since they get hot and sweaty and are exposed to a lot of friction.....that's where lube comes in, and it's particularly important to lube your chamois. Your chamois you say??? Yes, your chamois....check it out. Personally I like the ASSOS brand, because it is a ridiculously Beavis and Butthead kinda name, heh-heh.
The seat can also be modified. You'll notice in the picture above that some seats are split or have shock absorbers. Your position on the bike can also affect things. So mountain bikers are more at risk for urologic injury since you sit upright and have your buttocks on the seat for longer amounts of time, as compared to road bikers who are usually upright or leaning forward. Technically the best saddle is wide, heavily padded, with a flexible or absent nose. Who else had one of these beauties on the left as a kid???? The Schwinn Banana. oh yeah.....
One thing's for sure---you don't want to do this:
Now obviously ya can't talk Tour and bicycle seats without at least one mention of Lance Armstrong. When he was first diagnosed with testicular cancer a panic went up about bicycling and saddles specifically causing testicular cancer. Not true. While there may be an increased incidence of testicular cancer in bicyclists there isn't necessarily a causal link. So keep peddling.
For those interested in Lance's progress in Le Tour (or TdF for the cool kids) you can follow him on Twitter.....
The internets are an amazing thing. I found this picture by Annie Liebowitz for Vanity Fair. wow.
ok ok. here's my parting gift for the long weekend........