Fitness Tips

What an OB/GYN and a Pelvic Floor Pro Want You To Know About Spin Crotch

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/ Aja Koska
During a spin class, a certain amount of discomfort is to be expected. Your heart's racing, there's sweat dripping down your back and into your eyeballs, and by the third song, your legs are inevitably begging for relief. All of this, of course, is normal—and a sign you're getting stronger. But if you're experiencing any sort of pain in your nether regions, a gynecologist and pelvic floor pro say it may be time to rethink your form.

Spin crotch describes the pelvic pain that many women experience after spin class, and if it's left ignored for long periods of time, it could lead to problems later on. "Generally, the condition is related to soreness of the pubic bone, but additional perineal muscles and associated pelvic muscles, like one's inner thighs, can also hurt from the work of doing the spin class," says Tia Guster, MD, an OB/GYN based in North Carolina.

The culprit behind the issue is one, the small surface area that most bike seats offer, and two, the fact that most people aren't properly setting up their bikes. "Where the pressure is around your sits bones, how you set up your handlebars, and how far forward you're leaning on the bike can actually be putting quite a bit of pressure on your pudendal nerve, which supplies sensation to your [vagina]," says Kate Roddy, pelvic physiotherapist and founder of the Kegel Release Curve.

This, she explains, is why you may often feel numbness in the area immediately after a spin class. "This overactivity in your pelvic floor can lead to symptoms that some people don't understand are warning signs."

Though Dr. Guster notes that the long-term effects of spinning on your pelvic floor are uncommon, they do happen—which means it's worth being aware of anything out of the ordinary going on down there. While some numbness, soreness, or tingling in your bits are NBD—and can usually be improved with rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—if they last for more than 24 hours, "those are yellow flags that you should get investigated," says Roddy.

More serious spin crotch symptoms to look out for are the urgency to urinate, pain and restriction during penetrative sex, or unexplained soreness in your hips or back—all of which Roddy says are signs that your pelvic floor is experiencing increased tension from your time on the bike. If any of these things happen, it's a good idea to check in with a pelvic physiotherapist to help remedy the situation.

To avoid developing spin crotch in the first place, one of the best things you can do is prioritize proper bike setup. "Bike set up does matter," says Dr. Guster. "The more ideal posture is to take pressure away from the perineum by placing  your sitting bones on the widest part of the saddle." She explains that the correct bike setup should allow your legs to support your bodyweight, which takes some of the stress off of your nether regions in order to give you a more comfortable experience.

There are a number of tutorials online that can help you ensure that your bike is properly fitted, and it might help to snap a few photos of yourself on the bike so you can check in on how your form looks. You can also invest in a padded bike seat and padded shorts to soften the contact between your body and the seat, or, in a pinch, use a gym towel to provide some extra cushioning under your butt.

So while second-day soreness in your legs and core are par for the (hill-and-sprint laden) course after a particularly grueling spin class, spin crotch doesn't have to be.

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