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Bicycle saddles at work: get rid of the nose

Posted May 08 2009 11:39pm

politie-op-de-fiets Living in a country with far more than nine million bicycles, the recent warning of NIOSHScience Blog should not go unnoticed: Use a no-nose saddle for workplace bicycling.

Many workers ride bicycles as part of their job (i.e. police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), security staff, professional cyclists etc.)  Anecdotal reports from bicyclists had indicated that genital numbness, erectile dysfunction, and impotence are a concern.

The traditional bicycle saddle has a narrow nose or horn that protrudes under the groin as the cyclist straddles the bicycle. Ideally, the weight of the cyclist supported on the saddle should be under the pelvic sit bones.

However, 25% or more of the body weight is supported where the groin contacts the saddle nose. This percentage greatly increases as the cyclist leans forward in more aerodynamic positions.

Bearing weight on this region of the saddle compresses the nerves and arteries in the groin. These nerves and arteries run through the groin between the sit bones to the genitals.

Research has shown that pressure on these nerves and arteries over time may lead to a loss of sensation and a decrease in blood supply to the genitals. This can contribute to the sexual and reproductive health effects that have been reported with bicycling.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a Workplace Solutions document titled No-nose Saddles for Preventing Genital Numbness and Sexual Dysfunction in Occupational Bicycling, which summarizes NIOSH research and recommendations.

Posted in Physical agents Tagged: bicycle, saddle
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