Mula Bandha & Your Bike Seat: a Spiderflex review and Ode to Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Little known fact about the world of physical therapy: There are PTs who treat pelvic pain and dysfunction (sexual, incontinence) internally (intravaginal, intrarectal, etc) and externally (more traditional means). It’s revolutionary, and a powerful healing tool that improves the quality of life for many people all over the world.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is vital to many women, to post-prostectomy patients, to elderly and so many others.

Although I do not directly treat pelvic floor dysfunction, a working pelvic floor is crucial to recovery from many of the conditions I DO treat on the daily: low back pain, SI joint instability, hip flexor tendonopathy, even knee pain. It also happens to be crucial to many of the more athletic poses of hatha yoga (mula bandha) and to core integrity in general.

Pelvic floor pain at times is a byproduct of the other orthopedic reasons patients seek out physical therapy. I often reference pelvic floor function with patients, I always ask about pelvic floor function, and when appropriate, I refer patients to my dear colleagues who do treat the pelvic floor.

image of bike saddle courtesy of Spiderflex.com

image of bike saddle courtesy of Spiderflex.com

Another love of mine, cycling, can unfortunately be a culprit to pelvic pain — or at least an irritant to the fine pelvic musculature, which is why I was so pumped that #Spiderflex generously donated one of their wacky-looking bike seats to be used in patient try-outs for those with pelvic pain.

Here’s my review: This seat is amazing. It has been a god-send to our patients needing a non-friction-causing bike seat to help them heal from pelvic pain. Patients have given glowing reviews, and have been able to get back into the saddle, which is really all that matters.

I tried it out for a week on my own bike, and was also enamored. It is breezy (nice air flow).  It forces you to rely less on hanging out in your seat and more on your legs (I didn’t realize how lazy I was being with my traditional seat!). It cups the buns rather than noses forward under your private parts (why aren’t all bike seats like this one?).

One caution I would put forth with this seat: because of where the front of the seat hits on your back upper thigh, it could irritate an upper level hamstring tear or ischial bursitis. Bursitis is rare, but in my world of yoga and orthopedic physical therapy, I encounter upper hamstring tendonopathies frequently.

Spiderflex reps say that the seat cushion softens substantially over time with use, meaning it will rub less. They also state that they have not received complaints about hamstring irritation. Again, that would be the most meaningful measure: the people using the product in the real life.

Secondly, because the seat tips you forward, asking for more use of your legs (a good thing!), it also places more weight in your hands and wrists. If this causes any problems, there are easy remedies that perhaps all cyclists should be taking anyway, like bike gloves and wrist supports.

I highly recommend this saddle to all cyclists: including those without pelvic floor dysfunction. Unfortunately, we know that long term use of traditional bike seats is a leading contributor to pelvic pain in both men and women, high level athletes as well as commuter cyclists. The Spiderflex design is simply smart and anatomic. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Or if you have a similar bike seat, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

Here’s a link to check out the Spiderflex seat for yourself: www.spiderflex.com

(FYI — I don’t benefit in any financial way from this review or link.)

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