Written and reviewed by a professional personal trainer.
We’ve already discussed postpartum exercise, but now we’re going to provide an overview of a very particular form of exercise: jogging strollers.
If you’re a running enthusiast, this invention might save you hours of your life and add a whole new dimension to bonding with your child. This means taking your child out on runs with you, no childcare needs, no need for a bulky car seat, and the opportunity to improve your fitness in novel and challenging ways.
The jogging stroller has attracted attention lately for its promise and popularity, and it might be the next stage in your exercise plan. We’re going to take you through what it is, how it works, how it can impact your running, and how to stay safe while getting the best out of your exercise.
Progressing: An Intro to the Jogging Stroller
Once you’ve been doing some gentle exercise for a couple of months, you might start to seek out something that presents you with a little more challenge. This might seem difficult to do with limits placed on your time, but running might be your perfect fit – especially since you can take your baby with you.
One of the best purchases you can make as a new parent getting back into an exercise routine is the Jogging Stroller.
Using the jogging stroller might be the best way to fit running into your day; maintaining you fitness (and sanity). You will also be getting baby out into the fresh air and nature at the same time – never a bad thing!
What are Jogging Strollers?
Jogging strollers are a classic design and look like a normal stroller – only sturdier. The key difference is that jogging strollers possess three larger wheels instead of the usual four small ones.
Jogging strollers also feature a ‘pod’. This acts to enclose the baby in a weather-proof cocoon, keeping them safe and secure in all conditions. Some strollers can be converted, allowing you to pull the pod along behind a bike if you would prefer to cycle.
Will the Stroller Affect my Running?
Running with the stroller should not be uncomfortable, just unfamiliar. You can develop a technique that works for you, but many parents choose to adapt a “one handed” approaching, swinging the other arm and swapping arms at regular intervals.
When running with a stroller, be sure to focus on regular gait cues, like keeping your knees aligned with your toes and landing through the mid-foot.
Make sure you do your research before investing in your stroller. Like any product on the mother-baby market, there are hundreds of options available.
The height of the stroller needs to be comfortable for you to push, and there are many other factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- Collapsible size
- Comfort for your baby
- Brand features
What’s the Difference?
You’ve likely made lists and lists of new purchases in preparation for motherhood. The addition of several different types of stroller to this list probably seems like unnecessary investment. It’s easy to assume that your regular stroller and a jogging stroller should be interchangeable, but there are some key differences in design.
Jogging strollers are built for babies who are at least 6 months old, as younger children are unable to stabilize themselves sufficiently – bare this in mind for your return to running.
Jogging strollers are designed with the knowledge that you are traveling at a greater speed – they also offer added features to protect your baby:
- Added precautions and brakes, making an emergency stop easier, gentler and safer for your baby
- 3 larger wheels, absorbing more shock and giving your baby a smoother ride
- A fixed front wheel to avoid buckling and swiveling at higher speeds – an essential feature for keeping your child safe
If you’re concerned by your baby’s safety and your budget, jogging strollers exist with interchangeable front wheels that allow them to be used as a regular stroller. This means buying one stroller overall and reduces the already-crazy expenses of parenthood!
Key Benefits of the Jogging Stroller
Running with a stroller might seem like adding hinderance to an already-awesome activity, but using a jogging stroller has some big health benefits in of itself.
The added resistance is a great way to develop strength in the lower body and challenge your core strength and posture. This means more, and different, effects to your regular run.
Recent findings show that using a stroller while running has just enough impact on running form to warrant additional stretching and strength exercises, but not enough to make stellar running a likely cause of injury.
Get Strong, Stay Limber
You might want to try incorporating some mobility, core and stretching exercises into a post-run routine to counteract any muscle tightening or straining caused by using the jogging stroller on your runs.
For these exercises, breathe as regularly as possible and focus on relaxing into the stretch:
The Couch Stretch
This amazing stretch is a great way to open up the hips and reduce the risk of hip and back pain. It requires you to use your core and stay nice and tall, without leaning forward or letting the hips pull back.
Simply place one foot on a raised surface, step forwards and sink down and back. Keep the chest up and the hips open. This is going to undo all the tightness that sitting causes us in modern day life.
This funny-looking exercise is an amazing way of stretching the muscles of the hip. If you sit a lot – at work, in the car, or anywhere else – you’re going to feel amazing after this stretch. It will also help you recover between running sessions.
Place one foot on the floor, pointed straight forward. Place the other heel on the floor so that your feet are quite wide. Squat down into the straight foot, keeping the other leg straight, and keeping only the heel on the floor.
This is a great way to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the hips. This is amazing for everyone, but especially new mothers. As we mentioned above, strengthening and stability in this area can improve sexual and obstetric health.
Another hip exercise – the hips are important! The bridge is all about improving the strength of the buttocks, which stabilize the spine.
Weak glutes is a common cause of injury in runners and this is going to be a real concern if you’re pushing a stroller while you run.
To perform the bridge, place the feet flat on the floor – as close to the butt as your mobility will allow. From here, squeeze the buttocks and push the hips towards the ceiling. To add difficulty, and make the exercise more effective, try performing it with only one foot on the floor.
Back strength is important for life: it is involved in posture, long-term mobility and reducing your chance of serious spine injuries. The superman, and alternative superman, are great ways of keeping your back strong and mobile.
This exercise is the opposite of the deadbug. Instead of laying on your back, lay flat on your front. From this position, keep your core touching the floor at all times and extend your opposite arm and leg. Keep the back and abs tight throughout.
An amazing core exercise, the deadbug trains our abs and all the smaller stabilizer muscles in the abdomen. This is going to contribute to that toned tummy, but will also develop a strong, healthy core to support your spine.
Simply lay flat on your back with the whole back touching the floor. To get into the start position, raise the arms and legs so you’re on an upside-down all-fours position.
From the start position, extend the opposite leg and arm until they’re just above the floor. Keeping the core tight, raise them back up and repeat with the opposite side.
Running involves a lot of rotational and anti-rotational strength from the core. The iron cross is a great way of stretching out the muscles responsible for keeping the core stable, keeping your spine and hips healthy.
Simply lay flat on the floor with the back and shoulders in contact with the floor. From this position, raise one leg up and reach it across the body. Aim at touching your opposite hand, but be sure to keep the shoulders flat and turn through the torso.
Inchworm with push-up
This is a great all-rounder movement to improve your mobility and cool-down after exercise. It will stretch the hamstrings and keep your whole body moving and healthy.
Start in the downward dog yoga position: hands and feet on the floor, with the arms and legs straight. From this position, keeping the back flat, walk forwards until you reach a push-up position. Perform a push-up, keeping the hips low and the upper back tight, then reverse the movement until you’re standing again.
Good for You, Good for Baby
It is good to recall that taking your baby out with you on your run entails some extra benefits for your youngster.
Getting baby out into the fresh air has some wonderful stimulation and health benefits in the early years. Socialisation for you infant can be incorporated within your exercise routine – there are even groups for running with children.
Taking your little one out into nature and to new places can be a fabulous way of passively educating them about the world around them and introducing them to new concepts and interests.
Whatever type of exercise it is that you choose to add into your routine, you will be helping to get your baby used to being active right from the very start.
Mums who exercise with their children in the early years are assisting them to grow up healthier and leaner, giving them the best opportunities and advantages for life.
While it is unlikely you will be setting any personal bests on your times, non-competitive events for parents and babies can be great fun.
These stroller friendly races are a wonderful way of providing that extra motivation to commit to your training, as well as adding an extra social dimension to your runs – even more useful when you run long-distance!
Even better, there are races purposefully put together for parent-baby duos, so be sure to give these a look and contemplate strategies for sharing the stroller!
Who Shouldn’t use the Jogging Stroller?
The jogging stroller is a great piece of equipment for improving your health and wellbeing, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone – at least not all the time.
Let Yourself Recover
As we mentioned in our PostPartum Exercise article, it is important to properly recover post-pregnancy and ensure that you have a foundation of core strength and lower-body stability before returning to running.
Strength and stability are even more important for running with a stroller. As mentioned above, this is a loaded exercise and can increase your risk of injury if attempted too early or without an adequate strength basis.
Are your Joints Ready?
The jogging stroller is also likely to be inappropriate for the elderly or those with a history of joint problems – or the relevant preconditions/risks.
If you experience osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, or any other form of joint- or bone-related illness, you may need to choose a different exercise. Running is high-impact on the joints and loaded running (even in the form of pushing) can increase this risk.
Be sure that you’re in the correct shape to perform this exercise before committing to a purchase: a proper strength, mobility and fitness routine can be performed inexpensively at home, so it makes no sense to push yourself before you’re ready!
If you’re a new mother, getting back is probably low on your to-do list but it can improve your life in so many ways and restore normality to a very surreal process. Start gentle, be kind to yourself, and learn to love the process.
Try a jogging stroller to give yourself the versatility and independence that you’ll be sure to miss during those 3am wake-ups for another feed. If you’re looking to feel yourself and help yourself and your baby, the jogging stroller is a great way to improve your fitness and regain control of your body and your independence.