Trying to change the riding habits of cyclists might be like imposing sanctions for eating ice cream: it just isn’t going to happen.
But, an adjustment to the cyclist’s way of riding, may reduce genital numbness through repositioning the handlebars on that road to health and fitness.
According to a report in the “Journal of Sexual Medicine”, (WebMD) this specific numbness may be partially brought on by low handlebars—people in spinning classes often complain of this same situation.
The study included 41 women who rode at least 10 miles weekly with their handlebars lower than their seats.
Ideally, the correct position is to place the hands on top of the bars; the WebMD report noted:
Placing the hands at the top of curved handlebars, instead of at the bottom of the handlebars, can reduce pressure on the genitals, earlier studies have shown.
“Riding in a more upright position takes the pressure off the pelvic area and places it on the sit bones,” says Sarah N. Partin; she led the new research while at Texas A&M’s School of Rural Public Health.
It may be more comfortable—and look cooler—to speed along with handlebars lower than the seat you’re riding on.
Not a real cool thing to do, says Steven Schrader, PhD, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The resultant effect is tantamount to placing up to 40% of body weight “…on the nerves and blood vessels near the perineum.”
Schrader’s earlier research on police cyclists concluded that using a special seat other than the traditional ‘nose’ saddle meant fewer issues for the cyclists with erectile dysfunction and numbness. He recommends recreational riders who want to minimize pressure on their genitals to use the no-nose saddles.
To cycling endurance coach, Gale Bernhardt, the numbness issue is of milder concern; Berhnhardt coached triathlon and cycling teams in two Olympics, noted WebMD:
…Bernhardt…says genital numbness is a far less common complaint than saddle sores and other issues among the women she trains.
Furthermore, she just isn’t convinced that the “elite cyclists” will make such changes in their riding styles…or bike saddles.