Silly Question? Not Really! Parents, your stroller (and your baby) is a new and perfect workout! Pushing your stroller can be MUCH more than a way to get around...it can be a wonderful way to get in shape after your baby makes their entrance into your lives! There are numerous resources showing the amazing benefits to your fitness level when you walk or run with your stroller.
HOW your push your stroller, however, is VERY important. If you aren't pushing it in good alignment and form, you could cause more injury than gain fitness benefits. A 2009 New York Timesarticle has great points about the importance of good form from exercise physiologists and FIT4MOM: “Running mechanics change and targeted muscles are trained differently while pushing a stroller,” said Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. “It’s like learning to kick a ball with the other leg.”
Pushing a stroller changes your gait. With this apparatus in front of you, several things change in how you move. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Keep your hips close to the stroller - Your hips are your "powerhouse". Use your biggest source of power to propel you, and your stroller forward. Resist leaning forward over or towards the handle, especially uphill.
- Engage your abdominals...constantly - This anticipatory contraction supports the spine as you walk or run.
- Keep your wrists in neutral - Bending the wrists puts too much pressure when pushing your stroller and could lead to wrists issues.
- Place your shoulder blades "in your back pockets" - Retract your shoulder blades back and down, as if you were imagining them going into your back pockets. This takes the tension out of your shoulders and neck as your push.
- Finally, swing an arm occasionally - Before we started pushing a stroller, our bodies were used to releasing upper body energy by swinging our arms when we walk or run. There is a tendency to place both hands on the stroller handle and keep them there when we walk or run now with the stroller. This can lead to shoulder and neck pain or injury is sustained. As I stated in the NYT article reference above, “It’s fine to run with one hand on it, but alternate hands,” Ms. Hruska said. “Occasionally swing one arm to avoid shoulder and neck discomfort and to run more naturally.”
Welcome to this new and effective way of getting shape after having your baby! Stroller fitness is such a wonderful way to stay healthy, with your children along for the ride. Another amazing benefit is that they are seeing their moms and dads putting fitness as a priority in their lives...instilling this in their lives with your example! Way to go, Moms and Dads!