Having fun and being safe means paying attention to both mind and body. It extends beyond wearing helmets and goggles. It means recognizing how important your physical and mental conditions really are to everyone’s overall safety. With the possibility of distractions that can lead to serious incidents, it’s imperative that we recognize the importance of total rider conditioning. When riders are physically and mentally fit, everyone can have a great day on the trails.
Before heading out for an invigorating ride through all types of terrain, it’s a good idea to stretch first. Stretching loosens up your muscles and keeps them agile. This is helpful both in minimizing injuries and to quicken recovery if an injury occurs. ATVs are rider-centric machines, meaning that you need to use your body weight to help guide the vehicle. Stretch your neck, back, forearms and legs. And even before you stretch, get your blood pumping through your veins – walk around briskly, rotate your arms, run or jump on the spot. The more your blood flows and muscles loosen, the more comfortable your ride will be.
Hydration is also important. A Health Study of ATV Riding, completed in 2015 by York University, showed ATVing to be a moderate to significantly active form of recreation, depending on how it’s done. And active recreation requires hydration. Water keeps muscles hydrated and blood flow circulating, both of which contribute to minimizing potential injuries and/or quickened recovery times from injuries.
Alcohol is NOT a suitable form of hydration. In fact, alcohol actually dehydrates us. Alcohol impairs your physical ability and judgment, both of which are required when out riding the trails. Distractions can lead to serious consequences. For this same reason, do not ride with drugs in your system – whether medicinal or not.
High levels of stress can also impact judgment. Although ATV and side-by-side riding are wonderful activities to benefit from the peaceful great outdoors, if you are very stressed or distracted, you may not focus sufficient attention on your machine and your riding. To have a great ride, make sure you have a safe ride.
Ask your members and ATV / ROV trainers these questions (through your posts, on your Facebook page, blogs, etc.) Possible answers are listed below each question.
Why are stretches important?
- They keep muscles supple.
- Stretches can prevent injuries and/or accelerate the healing time of injuries.
Why is hydration important?
- Hydration contributes to healthy muscles and good blood flow, which can minimize potential injuries and/or decrease recovery times.
- ATVing is a moderate to significantly active form of recreation – any such activity benefits from regular hydration.
How can substances and rider conditions impair your ride? How do these factors threaten your safety?
- Alcohol, drugs, and stress can impair your ability to ride.
- Alcohol and drugs impair physical responses and mental decision-making. High levels of stress can also impact decision-making.