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Ready to Go Off-Road? Healthy Mountain Biking 101

Mountain biking is one of America’s top five fitness activities, according to Natural Products Insider magazine. No wonder – combining cycling and gorgeous natural views is a sure winner. If you’re considering the jump from pavement to dirt, take care of the details for a healthy ride over bumpy terrain.

One of the top health challenges for mountain bikers is knee pain. Some simple steps to prepare and protect your knees on harsh trails include:

  1. Choose the right bike. Visit a local bike shop and get professionally fitted to make sure you are riding a bike that is the correct size.
  2. Set the right saddle height. While you’re at the bike shop, have them check the saddle. A seat that is too high can be detrimental to the knees; you could be hyper-extending your knee with each pedal stroke. Meanwhile, low seats are very energy inefficient, providing less power and increased stress on your knees.
  3. Watch the saddle angle. The saddle should be centered and level. Center the seat post on the rails on the underside of the saddle. Use a carpenter’s level and line it up with a horizontal line you know is straight, like a brick wall or tabletop. A forward-tilted seat is a common cause of knee pain in mountain bikers.

Not only is mountain biking adventurous and fun, there are plenty of opportunities for interaction – whether you join your local cycling club, sign up for a mountain bike race or bump into other riders at the trailhead. Social interaction on the trail improves mood and provides you with the opportunity to make new friends – or at the very least, new riding buddies. And riding with others is not only enjoyable, it’s safer. Get a healthy start, and hit the dirt trail.

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