by Dr. Bryan Bingham

Numbness and tingling can be a very unsettling sensation, particularly if these symptoms are experienced in sensitive areas of the body.  For men there is no area in the body that is more sensitive than the groin.  Experiencing numbness and tingling in the groin is not an uncommon experience for cyclists, but is this something that we should be concerned about?

What causes the numbness and tingling?

The most common cause of numbness and tingling in cyclists is pressure over the nerves and blood vessels in the area that comes in contact with the bicycle seat.  If this is the cause of the symptoms it is typically remedied by getting off the seat for a short period.  Other causes of numbness and tingling could be a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, cauda equine syndrome, spinal misalignment and improper bike fit.

Can cycling cause cancer?

Following Lance Armstrong’s diagnosis of testicular cancer in 1996, people began to speculate on the connection between cycling and testicular and prostate cancer.  To date there has not been significant research that shows a connection between cycling and testicular cancer, but there has been a recent study that shows a connection between cycling and prostate cancer.

A study from the United Kingdom in 2014 did show a correlation between cycling more than 8.5 hours a week and prostate cancer.  The researchers in the study were unable to explain the cause of this correlation and admit the more research is needed.  The conclusion of the researchers who have looked at this issue is that any risk from cycling outweighs the benefits associated with regular cardiovascular exercise.

What can you do to prevent numbness and tingling in the groin?

Personally I am someone who experiences numbness and tingling in the groin when I cycle.  This is something that I have been experiencing for years and because cycling is one of my primary forms of exercise is has been concerning.  I have tried a number of different things to remedy this issue with no success.  Even though there isn’t concrete evidence linking numbness and tingling sensations to cancer it is uncomfortable and I am not willing to take my chances if in fact there is a correlation with testicular or prostate cancer.

What is the solution?

I recently became familiar with a seat from ISM called the Adamo , but I had a hard time believing that something as simple as changing my seat could have a significant impact on symptoms that I have had for years on various different bikes.

Because of the weather my road bike is set up on my trainer in the basement.  Typically the the symptoms are worse on the trainer because your constantly sitting and you don’t stop at traffic lights and get off of the seat.   Here is what this unusual seat look like:

ISM Adamo Bike Saddle

My first ride with the Adamo was a short 10 mile ride and I didn’t notice any symptoms, but it still wasn’t convinced.  After my first ride, I did some medium distance rides and had no symptoms as hard as it was for me to believe.  Yesterday I did my longest ride on the Adamo seat, which was 30 miles that took about 85 minutes of which I was on the seat for the entire time.  To my amazement, I had no tingling or numbness what-so-ever.   I was floored that this seat could have such a profound affect on my symptoms, but I couldn’t argue with results.

One tradeoff I did notice on my 30 mile ride was the increase in pressure and soreness over my sits bones (ischial tuberosity).  I realized that the seat had forced me to redistribute my weight to my sits bones which took pressure off the area of the groin with the nerves and blood vessels.  It was obvious from the soreness that I had not been positioning myself this way in my previous rides which explained the new found soreness.  Outside of the comfort of riding without numbness and tingling, I felt that my ride was easier and I could develop more power with less effort.  This is hard to quantify and could be a placebo effect.

I am still new to the ISM Adamo seat, but from what I have experienced I expect that it will become a permanent part of my cycling equipment.