The Running Mama Trilogy: Jogging Stroller Running Form
Updated: Jan 17, 2020
Running (or jogging) can make or break you some days, depending on your physical ability, your endurance, your distance, and the amount of cross training you have done on the side especially as a mom. But you know what else can make or break you while running? Your posture! It affects your entire body and how you feel not only during your run, but after. Your posture affects how your ankles, knees, hips, gluteal muscles (aka your booty), your lower back, your core, your upper back, your shoulders, your neck... it affects how all of those feel! Especially after running long distances.
How often do you check your running form while out running WITHOUT a stroller?! I find that I actually think about it every few minutes... How are my arms swinging. Is my chest up and shoulders rolled down and back. Are my knees coming up enough in the front to set a good stride? Am I dragging my feet? Am I leaning too much to one side? As a former college athlete having been trained with form running, a few of these thoughts come up every once in a while jamming to the awesome beats coming from my headphones.
But running with a stroller, do I check my form? NOPE!! Its more like: Okay did I bring an extra diaper? Do I have enough snacks to make it for a 5-6 mile run? Did I remember to put sunscreen on the kids? “What’s that you need honey? Another snack?”... “What did you see? Oh yea I do think I see that unicorn running over there!”... “Oh you want me to tell you a story about super heroes and princesses while trying to push 100 lbs of double stroller and gasp for air? Sure why not!” Mom life in general tends to be like this!
Well if you get a few moments to string some thoughts together while running with your stroller, you really should consider these 5 tips on running with proper posture in order to avoid injuries:
1. Try running as up right as possible. Most of us, especially while pushing a heavier load and/or up a hill, tend to lean into the stroller from our chest. We also sometimes rely on the stroller to lean onto it as well. Try not to! Do your best to remain as upright as possible by thinking about driving your hips to that stroller handle! It will help to prevent upper and lower back pain that can be caused by the constant hunch over.
2. Run with your shoulders rolled down and back. This kind of goes hand in hand with #1. Try and remind yourself to “roll your shoulders into your back pockets.” For women and moms especially, we tend to always been leaning forward into our babies as we hold them, nurse or bottle feed them, change them, and even as we are on our phones/computers scrolling social media, reading a book, driving a car, etc. This causes our chest muscles to tighten up and our back and core muscles to weaken. Again think as you run, “Roll my shoulders down and back into my pockets!”
3. Don’t forget your natural arm swing! When you run naturally without the stroller, do you just hold your arms still at your side? Of course not! Haha That would look pretty silly wouldn't it. Do what your body wants to do naturally and alternate which arm/hand is pushing the stroller while naturally swinging the other arm just as you would while running naturally without the stroller. This will help with maintaining your natural pace, posture and gate.
4. Try and stretch out your gate or stride so that it feels longer. As we push the stroller, we tend to run with a shorter gate so that we don’t “kick” the stroller in front of us. This can ultimately hurt our natural running form and posture. Your gate will naturally become shorter and you start to hit the pavement with a different part of your foot, which after the repetition over and over again, possibly cause joint pain in your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. If you feel uncomfortable stretching out your gate, try running more next to your stroller with one hand still tightly holding onto the stroller with a safety strap.
5. Take the time, every once in a while to go for a run WITHOUT the stroller. Reconnect with your body and how you would run naturally. Haven’t done this in a while? It is going to feel so weird to be running without a stroller at first. I know from experience! Even when I am running with my husband and he offers to push the stroller, I feel so awkward running without it. But the reality is, your body needs to be reminded with muscle memory how your natural running form should be! Muscle memory is key!
*Note: I am a Certified Personal Trainer specializing in Prenatal and Postpartum exercise, however I am not a running specialist or a medical doctor. Run and/or jog with or without your stroller at your own risk. I give you these tips as a mom with a lot of miles running pushing her stroller. Please speak with your medical provider before trying any sort of exercise, especially if you are pregnant or have recently had a baby. If you are interested in more on how to correct your running form, you can find exercise physiology specialists that can train you in order to gain optimal running form.