Stroller Running Form Revisted

I’ve discussed stroller running form before in my Stroller Running 101 posts but a recent article in the New York Times about stroller running as well as some comments and questions on my Instagram post have made the topic top of mind for me.  Plus, I’ve been really sore after my stroller runs lately and I know it’s because my form hasn’t been great. So, I thought it was time I gave myself a refresher and figured I’d share with all of you too!

Let me start by saying: stroller running is awesome.  I love it so much.  Just this year alone I’ve run nearly 400 miles with the stroller.  It gives me the freedom to run as a SAHM of two without needing to hire a babysitter.  It allows me to have fun adventures with my kiddos.  It’s a great way for all of us to get outside and break up the indoor doldrums.  And (probably my favorite reason) on weekends it makes it possible for hubs and I to get out for a family run all together together instead of having to hand off child care between the two of us.  Plus, sometimes we even take the dog!

But truth? Stroller running can be hard.  And it can be tough on your body.  I find that I’m sore in different ways after a stroller run vs a solo run.  To help make things easier, I try to focus a lot on my form while stroller running.  It really can make a great bit of difference and help me walk (or run) away from a stroller run a little less sore!

So if you’re a stroller runner (or even a wanna be or soon-to-be one!) the next time you head out with your little(s) in tow, try to focus on these tips to help ensure a successful run and speedy recovery!

A quick disclaimer before we get started –  I am not a medical professional nor a coach.  These are my own opinions, tips and insights based on my experience.  

  1. Run Tall.
    Whenever you push something, your body naturally tilts forward, so it’s no surprise you’ll probably find yourself doing this when you’re out for a run with the stroller. This is especially true when pushing uphill and also towards the end of a run when you’re tired – you’ll tend to shift your upper body weight onto the handle bar and stick your bum out (see the image below on the left).   Try to keep your feet and hips close to the stroller and stay upright instead (like the image on the right).   If your hips and feet end up too far behind the handlebars, you’ll end up using a lot more energy.  You’re really going to want to tilt forward, but fight the urge!  The taller and more upright you stay, the easier it will be. This may mean you have to run slower, but it will payoff in the long run.
  2. Loosen Your Grip.
    It’s hard to imagine NOT holding on for dear life as you push your little one(s) in front of you at running speed.  But, don’t.  Try to keep a loose grip.  I found that my shoulders, jaw, and neck were always SUPER tight and sore after runs with the stroller – until I realized mid run one day that I was keeping a death grip on the handlebar (see the image below on the left).  So now, I try to run with a loose grip. Of course, yes, I HOLD ON and don’t let the twins just fly wild down the sidewalk….please no one call CPS.  But when I’m on flat surfaces I run with open palms (see below on the right) which really prevents me from strangling the handlebar – and also keeps my neck, jaw and shoulders loose. When I’m running with open palms I’m guiding the stroller – and not hanging on for dear life.
  3. Guide From Your Core.When you’re stroller running, a good thing to remember is – you don’t always have to push! In fact, on flat surfaces you shouldn’t feel like you’re pushing the stroller at all.  Instead, focus on using your core and body momentum to move the stroller forward – don’t rely on your arms to do all the work! If you do, you’ll be having serious doubts about going the distance about 2 miles in like I did the first few times I hit the road with the running stroller.  Once the stroller is rolling it will stay rolling thanks to rubber tires and a suspension system that allows it to roll over bumps easier and overall create less resistance. Keeping open palms on the handlebar as pictured in #2 will also help with this.
  4. Use Both Hands.
    I know it feels cool and bad*ss to run with one hand on the stroller and the other vigorously pumping.  “Look at me!”, you’ll say to yourself, “I’m SO FAST! And just KILLING IT with only ONE HAND!”.  Oh wait….that’s just me that has convos with herself and pep talks while running? Okay, nevermind.But seriously, despite how much faster you’ll feel with one hand off the handlebars – try to run with both hands on the stroller.  Because the truth is, with two hands your form and pace will remain closest to normal.  Running with one hand can throw off your stride and cause you to favor one side of your body over the other.  Same as running tall, keeping two hands on the stroller may mean you have to run slower, but it’s worth it to cut down on the risk of injury or uneven wear and tear on your body.
  5. Check In with Yourself and Check Yourself Out! 
    Check in with yourself at various points throughout a run to make sure your form is on point! Maybe slow down every now and then to correct your alignment, make sure you’re standing tall, and keeping a loose grip on the handlebar.  Another great way to keep tabs on your form is to check out your reflection in windows or take a peek at your shadow.  If your shadow/reflection is slouching, that means you are too!

    Stroller running is hard – but it’s a lot of fun! And the payoff is huge. It’s great bonding time with your little(s) and it’s an efficient way to stay (or get!) in shape without relying on a babysitter.  I hope these insights into stroller running form are helpful.  Like I said earlier though, I’m always learning and often have to remind myself to fix my form.  So that being said, I’d love to hear your tips and experiences with stroller running! How do you keep your form in check and what do you focus on? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

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