Jogging with stroller: Tips to stay active with baby, avoid injury
Posted June 14, 2015
Updated June 15, 2015
I've run off and on since high school. It became more than an occasional activity when my younger daughter was very young. I'd push her in the stroller on walks through the neighborhood. She'd urge me on, saying "faster, Mommy!"
So I went faster. Pretty soon, I wasn't walking through the neighborhood. I was running.
Melissa Bell knows the drill. The mom of a two-year-old boy is a runner, who spent miles pushing her son as a baby in an infant stroller. And she's an exercise specialist at WakeMed, who is currently helping to train patients who are working to compete in the WakeMed Scrub Run, which is June 20 in Raleigh.
I checked in with Bell to get some tips for runner moms and dads who are pushing strollers around the neighborhood. Here is her advice:
Get a true running stroller. They can be expensive so be sure to check out Craigslist, children's consignment sales and children's consignment stores where you can nab some great deals on them. The jogging stroller should have three wheels. It should be light. And you should be able to easily control it with one hand. If your spouse or partner will be using the stroller as well, be sure that it has an adjustable handle so it will fit them as well.
Once you have the stroller, says Bell, practice with it without the child in it. Practice holding on with one hand and switching between the two to ensure you're allowing for proper trunk rotation and your back and shoulders don't get stiff.
"You want it to be nice and easy to control," she said. "If you’re able to steer it with one hand, you’re doing well. If you’re using both hands, it’s too big or too heavy or you’re not quite strong enough."
Pay attention to your posture. Be sure you aren't leaning over the stroller. Your arms should be bent slightly above 90 degrees when you're holding on to the stroller handle.
Wait if you have a newborn. Most doctors recommend that you wait to plunk her in a jogging stroller until she can hold her head up. (Moms also should follow their doctor's recommendations on when they can return to their regular exercise and running routine).
"Even if it's flat, [the baby is] still getting jostled around," Bell said. You need to ensure that "the baby's head is strong enough."
Be prepared for a good workout. Running while pushing a jogging stroller can make for a more strenuous workout, Bell said. Not only are you pushing a stroller that might weigh 10 or 15 pounds, you're also pushing the extra weight of the child.
Make sure that your calves and core are strong to avoid injury, Bell said. "If the calves are weak, if your core is weak, you could end up having to change your running posture and end up with an injury," she said.
Be considerate with other runners. If you're running with a stroller in a fun run or family event, first, check to make sure that strollers are allowed. If they're allowed, be sure that other runners can get by you.
Finally, know when to stop. As soon as you can't control the stroller with one hand anymore, it's time to stop, Bell said. She wouldn't recommend running longer than three or four miles with the stroller at one time. "Unless you're really in shape, I wouldn't do a whole lot," she said.
The benefits of running with your child extend beyond better fitness for parents, Bell said. Among her weight loss patients, setting a good example for their children is among their top goals.
"It's good bonding time. It gets the child outside. Fresh air helps them sleep a little better," she said. "You're setting a good role model for them, ... showing your child what it means to be healthy and active as well."