Many runners dream of the day they get to run with their kids. That first experience is usually with a child strapped firmly into a stroller – and while it may look easy, breezy, and beautiful, running with a kid in tow can be tough.
Abby Bales, PT, DPT, CSCS, is the owner of Reform Physical Therapy in New York City, and she’s a mom of two. So she knows what it takes – physically, mentally, and everything in between – to make running with a jogging stroller successful. Here’s her best advice.
The most efficient way to run is with both hands on the stroller – but that may not be your best bet
A recent study confirmed that the most efficient way to run with a jogging stroller is to keep both hands on the stroller, rather than pushing with one arm and then the other.
I switch off arms, but push with both hands when going uphill.
“It makes sense that you don’t fix one arm and over-swing the opposing arm,” says Bales. “Aren’t we all stronger when we use two arms to push a heavy object? Efficient or not, I don’t find that comfortable, though, so I switch off arms, but push with both hands when going uphill.”
Finding the right stroller matters
“It’s important to find the right stroller for your regular running route,” says Bales. “There’s no reason to get all the bells and whistles of an off-roading stroller – like Mountain Buggy or the new, state-of-the-art Thule stroller – if you’re only going to use it on a paved greenway.
There’s no reason to get all the bells and whistles of an off-roading stroller if you’re only going to use it on a paved greenway.
Then again, if you’re up and down on curbs a lot, you may want one with great shock absorption and pneumatic tires. And know how often you plan on using it.” If you’re only likely to run with the stroller once a week on a three-mile run, don’t blow your entire budget on two separate strollers. Go for one that can cover you for both activities.
Don’t force it!
“If your kid hates it on the first go, don’t worry,” says Bales. “He or she may not be ready for the ride, and you can always try again in a few days or weeks.”
Don’t give up just because your kid has one bad run.
Bales says her son didn’t enjoy the ride until he was around 15 months old, at which point they started making stops at water playgrounds where he could get out and splash around. “That was also great for me,” Bales says. “Don’t give up just because your kid has one bad run. Sometimes they need a snack, some music, or just some time to grow into being your best running buddy.”
Don’t exclusively run with your stroller
“It’s important to balance your stroller running with non-stroller running,” says Bales. “I know it’s sometimes easier and it’s the only way you can get a run in, but try to get at least one non-stroller run in a week so you can concentrate on proper form and arm mechanics.”
Try to get at least one non-stroller run in a week.
Pushing a stroller changes everything about your gait, and you want to make sure those changes aren’t permanent.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.