Cycling is hard enough without having to battle saddle discomfort, niggles, cramps, or back pain. Despite the recent radical advances in the smart trainer revolution, training indoors isn’t much fun if we can’t stay comfortable during our workouts. To help you train effectively and in greater comfort, here are five tips to help turbo-boost your comfort levels during your indoor training.
1) Eliminate saddle discomfort
For all the benefits of indoor riding, there’s one drawback that’s as despised as it is widespread, and that’s saddle soreness.
On indoor trainers, we tend to spend much more time in a static position when compared to outdoor riding. For many of us, the associated discomfort of numbness and pain from excessive and prolonged pressure on the nerve and blood vessels soon rears its ugly head.
The type of saddle that we use can have a significant bearing on how comfortable we remain while training. The saddle should be a proper fit, distribute bodyweight effectively, as well as be position correctly based on rider position.
If your saddle works for you on the road, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t also be comfortable indoors. However, several factors affect comfort levels, and you may have to make some readjustments.
- If you find yourself creeping forward on the saddle over time, then consider raising the front wheel of your bike with the Tacx Skyliner. This will help you distribute most of your weight in the broader rear section of the saddle and ensure that your sit bones take your weight as opposed to the softer tissue.
- If you’re experiencing any form of abrasions on your skin, then consider using a chamois cream on your crotch area and on the liner of your shorts.
- If you have to buy a new saddle, then don’t assume that more padding is better. The most important thing is saddle shape, and making sure it conforms to your contours will go a long way towards improving comfort on a smart trainer.
2) Emulate the dynamics of outdoor riding
On outdoor rides, we change our position regularly. We tuck down into headwinds, engage our core and upper body in all-out sprints, and ease up into an upright position when spinning a light gear on the climbs.
Our position is often different indoors, and many of us can spend vast amounts of time in the same static position. To help combat any associated aches and pains, try and alter your position regularly by sitting upright during recovery periods and taking regular standing breaks to relieve the constant load on your sit bones.
3) The long and the short of quality bib shorts
If you’re looking to maximize comfort on a smart trainer, then there’s one piece of kit that you should never skimp on, and that’s your bib shorts.
A static riding position coupled with excessive sweating is a sure recipe for discomfort, and perhaps something much worse! Always opt for a quality pair of bib shorts and ensure you’ve got a freshly-washed pair prior to starting your session.
Due to the way the body moves differently on a static trainer, a well-designed chamois pad is essential. One with an anti-bacterial layer and perforations to help draw sweat away is much more critical in indoor riding.
Polyester often works better than traditional nylon fabrics for wicking away sweat more effectively. And don’t forget to wash your bib shorts at 60°C to ensure you kill the bacteria that accumulate with excessive sweating indoors.
4) Commit to a bike fit
For those who want to go the extra mile, then a professional fit will help reduce the risk of developing an injury, pain, or the numbness often associated with long hours of static indoor riding. They also help you become more effective at transferring raw power through the drivetrain by increasing overall riding efficiency.
While your existing setup may allow you to ride on the road without issue, the static nature of indoor riding may expose any underlying alignment issues in your setup. By honing things like saddle height, crank length, handlebar reach, and cleat alignment, bike fits allow for enhanced comfort and maximum muscle activation throughout the pedal stroke. The marginal gains that result not only improve performance, but they also serve to significantly decrease the chance of developing niggles that may morph into something more serious with time.
5) Improve your flexibility
While many cyclists excel in terms of aerobic fitness, they often lack flexibility. Tight calves and hamstrings are notoriously common among cyclists, as are underactive cores, all of which can lead to the development of niggles and eventual injury.
To combat these issues, regular stretching, yoga, and strength work can all help ensure you maintain comfort on the bike and minimize your chances of picking up an injury. Make it a regular practice if you can, as consistency is the key to seeing results after all.