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Training Center: When is chamois cream needed?

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Merits of chamois cream

Dear BCSM,
I’ve been riding bikes for over 20 years, but have never raced on the road. I’m training to race this season and I wanted to ask about chamois cream. I’ve never used it before, despite logging thousands of miles, and have never had chafing or any other problems down south. Are there some people who just don’t require it? Or should I consider using it for my race training? If so, what would you recommend?
— Dave

Chamois cream is no substitute for a good bike fit, an adequate chamois pad, and good personal hygiene. In the old days when chamois were actually made of leather, a cream to keep them soft was crucial. That’s not the case anymore with all of the high tech materials. Today riders needs to choose a chamois that works for their anatomy (trial and error), keep themselves clean, keep the chamois clean, make sure their bike fits (including saddle choice, which is critical) and use a cream or lubricant as needed.

At the first sign of chaffing or bruising, think about a day off the bike, if you’re in a stage race, or that is not an option, consider a high quality chamois cream. If you ever become totally dependent on cream for comfort, something is wrong and you should seek professional medical advice.
— Andy Pruitt

Boulder Center for Sports Medicine was founded by Andrew Pruitt, EdD, PA-C, in 1998. For the past 12 years BCSM has been providing athletes from around the world with the highest possible level of care. BCSM offers a wide range of services, including Orthopedic Clinics, Physical Therapy, Expert 3D Bike Fitting, Running Gait Analysis, Coaching & Training, Nutrition Services, Performance Testing, and more. For more information, visit www.bch.org/sportsmedicine, or call (303) 544-5700.

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