Riding a bike is a fun and healthy hobby. Unfortunately, it does not come without its fair share of aches and pains. One of the common downsides of a long bike ride is cycling tailbone pain, also known as coccydynia.
Poor support or weight distribution while sitting on a bike can put too much pressure on the tailbone and lead to tailbone cycling pain. Various riding errors and less-than-ideal riding conditions can also contribute to it.
The good news is that a few simple tips can help you keep cycling tailbone pain at bay and enjoy safe and comfortable bike riding in the future.
But first, let’s delve into the common causes that can develop pain in the tailbone so you can prevent it from happening at all.
Common Triggers of Cycling Tailbone Pain
According to the National Health Services, a common trigger of tailbone pain is the repetitive actions of biking, especially during long rides. Unbalanced riding posture and incorrect bike setups are significant contributors to this condition.
You can also experience tailbone pressure and pain if you fall off your bike or if your bike is bumped from the rear side.
Of all these causes, improper bike fit is the most common. If you feel tailbone pain frequently, visiting your local bike shop and getting your bike professionally fitted to your body is how to relieve tailbone pain.
Bike experts will help you evaluate these three underlying factors to help you address the problem:
- Handlebar height: Bike handlebars set too high will push your vertebrae together and put unnecessary strain on the tailbone, causing pain and discomfort. Any bumps and irregularities on the road will further aggravate the problem.
- Seat height: If your bicycle seat is too low, each downward push adds pressure to your tailbone from your body weight, leading to pain, discomfort, and potential injury.
- Seat tilt: According to the Adventure Cycling Association, if your bike saddle pushes your pelvis ahead or behind, it may shift your balance. If your pelvis shifts back on your tailbone, it may result in a sore tailbone.
The bike seat must be parallel to the road. Any tilt must be corrected immediately to prevent injury while cycling.
Tailbone Pain Prevention
There are many ways to prevent coccyx injury from biking. Here are five easy ways to keep tailbone pain at bay:
1. Get a New Bike Seat
The Cleveland Clinic says that the saddles to blame are those that are too hard. A narrow saddle can also put extra stress on the tailbone.
But if you’re tempted to get an over-padded seat to reduce the potential for pain and discomfort, it’s not advisable, either. A highly cushioned saddle will upset your balance and displace the pressure and will likely do more harm than good.
2. Wear Padded Bike Shorts
A good pair of cycling shorts with padded chamois is vital for cycling gear. It will cushion and protect your tailbone and reduce the risk of tailbone pain.
Padded shorts will also help you avoid inner leg chafing, thus ensuring a much more comfortable and pain-free ride on multiple fronts. When shopping for cycling shorts, try on different pairs and brands to find the best-fitting and most comfortable ones.
3. Keep Your Back Bridged
While riding, bridge your back by arching it slightly instead of dropping it between your neck and hips. Doing so keeps your back stretched when you ride over bumps and irregularities on the road without bowing farther ahead.
This will help you avoid a painful or bruised coccyx from cycling and keep you comfortable on long rides.
Do not lean back in your bike seat. The tailbone forms the third part of a tripod of bones that supports our body weight when seated. If you lean back when you’re sitting, it will worsen your tailbone pain.
4. Take Standing Breaks
When you’re out on rides for long distances and feel soreness in your tailbone or numbness in your buttocks, take standing breaks by getting up on the bike pedals. It will improve blood circulation to your buttocks and ease the pain.
5. Keep Your Rides Short
Slow down your training routine if you’re a beginner cyclist and you end up with a sore or painful tailbone. Keep your rides shorter and less intense. It will help reduce tailbone pain and allow you to increase your muscle strength throughout the body gradually.
As you become a more experienced biker, you can increase your ride lengths and intensity over time and build muscle endurance without much pain.
Tailbone Pain Treatment
If you are already suffering from tailbone pain from cycling, you should take a break from biking until you feel better. This condition usually heals after a couple of weeks or months.
In the meantime, you can try the following tips to alleviate tailbone pain:
- Apply ice or heat to the tailbone area.
- Lean in a forward direction when you sit.
- Cushion your tailbone with a wedge-shaped cushion or a donut-shaped pillow when sitting for saddle comfort.
- For intense pain, try taking over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
If the coccyx pain does not reduce in a few days, you may have chronic coccydynia. In this case, visit a doctor who may perform a rectal examination to determine if you have any other medical conditions.
They may also perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or an X-ray to check for bone fractures or tumors pressing on your tailbone.
They may also recommend the following treatment methods for chronic coccydynia:
1. Physical Therapy
A physiotherapist will demonstrate exercises and techniques to relax your pelvic floor and build those muscles. For example, deep breathing exercises from the diaphragm release pelvic tension, relax aching muscles, and soothe the nervous system.
Hip flexor stretches mitigate stiffness in tailbone muscles, while glute stretches open up the hips and relieve pain.
You may also be taught specific stomach exercises to strengthen your core and stomach muscles that will support your tailbone throughout lengthy rides.
Alternatively, you can go for a massage to ease the pain in the muscles near your tailbone.
Coccygeal manipulation is a manual technique that can help ease tailbone pain. In this procedure, a doctor will insert a gloved finger in your rectum and shift your tailbone to put it back into its original position.
If your tailbone pain is too severe, your doctor may inject local anesthesia in that area to relieve the pain. The effects may last up to a couple of weeks.
Some anti-epileptic drugs or antidepressants may also reduce tailbone pain.
If the above treatments do not work, your doctor may recommend a coccygectomy. It is a surgical procedure in which your doctor will surgically remove your coccyx.
Tailbone pain when cycling can be bothersome at best and debilitating at worst—it may dissuade you from going on long and rambling bike rides in the future. But with our simple tips for preventing and easing this condition, you should be able to get back to your cycling routine and ride in comfort.
We hope you enjoyed reading our article on tailbone pain while cycling and found it informative and helpful. If you wish to read more biking guides and blog posts, head to our website. Happy reading!
Last Updated on July 11, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic