August 27, 2012

Two Tips to Prevent Knee Injury

by Peter Herreid

Bicycling is a healthy activity, but pedaling at a low cadence on an ill-fitted bike can lead to knee injury. Cadence refers to the revolutions of the pedal crank per minute: the rate at which you are turning the pedals. Higher cadence more evenly applies power throughout the rotation. 

If you use clip-less pedals with bike shoes, cadence is especially important as you are both pushing and pulling on the pedals. After I developed some tendonitis, a physical therapist and others recommended a cadence of at least 88 rpm with clip-less pedals, a level that at first seemed unnaturally high. A cadence gauge on my bike computer trained me to make this the new normal.

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Unfortunately, low saddle heights are a common sight on Madison's bike paths. Having your seat too low may not be noticeable on a quick jaunt through town, but over the long haul can result in an injury that keeps you from bicycling. A professional bike fitting, such as by the knowledgeable staff at Chronometro, can find just the right adjustments for your saddle, bike cleats, and handlebars. The bike is hooked up to a computer that displays the force applied by each pedal throughout the stroke, which reinforces the importance of cadence (and is fun to watch).    

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