As a paddler, I know all too well the discomfort that can come from spending long hours sitting on a hard, unforgiving seat. One particularly painful area for many paddlers are the ischial tuberosities, also known as the 'sit bones'. This bony protuberance on the lower pelvis can cause discomfort and pain, especially after extended periods of sitting.
Not everyone suffers from the pain associated with 'sit bone grind' but those who do will tell you that it can turn the most perfect of days on the water into a session that should be on the list of banned activities under the Geneva Convention.
So, why does 'sit bone grind' become completely debilitating for some and not bother others at all? I started digging into this exact question a few years ago when I moved from OC1 paddling to surfskis. Outrigger single craft (OC1's) have a raised and padded seat, unlike the hard surfski bucket, and a leg position that is more elevated and bent than than of a surfski. Both of these factors make up a large part of the problem.
After numerous sessions with my Physio, and spending a heap of time down the research habit hole of female anatomy, skeletal structures and muscle movement I discovered a few things;
1. Females tend to find it more natural to tilt their lower back forward at the pelvis than men. This provides the optimal seated paddling position but also contributes to the problem I was facing.
2. Using 'leg drive' by pushing your heals against the foot plate and rotation to get more power in the stroke contracts the leg muscles which, in turn, pulls back the Gluteus Maximus.
3. Rotating in the bucket (seat) of the surfski to get full power from leg drive requires hip and waist movement.
Put simply this means that a paddler who sits in the correct position, tilting slightly forward at their pelvis, uses leg drive, by applying pressure to the heal on the paddle side of the surfski and flexing their leg, and rotates fully through the stoke pulls their Gluteus Maximus from under their bottom to the side and back. This removes all 'padding' from under the 'sit bones' and causes them to grind on the seat.
The result of this 'sit bone grind' is bruising, irritation and/or formation of a bursitis.... sounds painful, doesn't it? It sure is.
So, what can be done about this "pain in the bum"? One solution would be to adjust your paddling style so that you aren't using leg drive or rotation and just muscle through the session with your upper body. This might work for a while but your arms and shoulders are no match for correct technique and the big muscles in your legs and back.
This is why we created Salty Cheeks Paddle Pants, featuring interchangeable seat pads with three different thicknesses, to help cushion the ischial tuberosity and reduce discomfort. Salty Cheeks are made from luxurious Italian swimwear materials comprised of ocean recovered plastics. They allow you to move freely in the seat of your surfski as the seat pad is secured in a multi-layer rear pocket.
Not only do the seat pads help to alleviate pain, but they also have other benefits for paddlers. The pads can help improve blood flow and circulation, reducing the risk of numbness and tingling in the lower body. They can also help to distribute weight more evenly across the pelvis, reducing the risk of pressure sores.
Overall, using Salty Cheeks Paddle Pants can help make your paddling experience more comfortable and enjoyable, especially if you are prone to pain in the ischial tuberosity. So why suffer in silence? Try out a pair of Salty Cheeks Paddle Pants or Salty Cheeks Paddle Shorts and say goodbye to "pain in the bum" for good.