Buggy running can be an awesome way for mums to get some quality exercise in during the day, without needing a babysitter and in a short space of time. It can also turn into good bonding time and a mini adventure with your kid(s) searching for diggers, trucks and dogs.
However, there are a few things to consider before you start learning how to run with a buggy………
Is your baby ready for buggy running? Babies need good head and neck control to be safe in the buggy when you are running. Even on a smooth surface, it is much more load on their head and neck when running compared to walking. It is recommended that you wait at least 6 months, maybe closer to 9 months, to give the baby enough time to develop neck strength. This is VERY baby dependent, some babies have good neck control by 6 months and with others, it takes much longer. So think about your own child and not what your friends are doing.
Is mum ready to buggy run? It is not recommended for mums to do any running until at least 3 months post birth for good pelvic floor healing. It is then safe to run, BUT only if you don’t have any pelvic floor symptoms (leaking, heaviness/dragging or pain). Buggy running is also much harder than running solo, so ideally you would have done some running on your own symptom free before you introduce the buggy. When this is not possible, a walk/run gradual program is best (this is recommended even without the buggy). If you have any pelvic floor symptoms then it is not recommended that you start running. If you are unsure if you are ready to run, get an assessment from a women’s health physio.
Is the buggy suitable for running? Lots of buggies these days are suitable for running (such as having a 5 point harness, bigger wheels etc). You can pick up great second hand ones, so it doesn’t need to be an expensive purchase. But running with an umbrella stroller etc is not safe for mums or bubs.
Buggy Running Technique
It is impossible to run “normally” with a buggy, but the aim is to replicate it the best you can. Remember pushing a buggy is much harder than solo running, so if you are slower than normal, don’t panic, you certainly will be getting stronger. Below are a description of the two main techniques, with videos at the bottom for each.
One Handed Running
To run one handed you are actually running more to the side of the buggy, as if you were running in the space behind/to the side of the back wheel. It is REALLY important that you change arms frequently. If you only run on one side, you may end up hurting your lower back. You will feel much more in control with your dominant arm, but the other side catches up with practice. I tend to run 2-3 minutes one side and then switch, but you can do whatever works as long as you use both sides. And to start with, you will wake up with sore your muscles in your arms you never even knew you had!
Two handed running
The key for this is being really close to the buggy. Our trunk naturally rotates with running, so if you are too far away from the buggy, then you can’t rotate and you will load other parts of your body too much. So maintain bent arms very close to the handle.
Some people do push and let go of the buggy, only maintaining a grip on the strap attached to the handle. I have tried this and never really found it to be great. I would not recommend it, unless you are trying to break buggy records!
I choose to run when my son is awake so that I know he is in good control of his head. It also means I can interact with him. This is just my preference and lots of people do use the buggy for nap time. It is just important to make sure baby is well supported and safe in the buggy and choosing a suitable surface (smooth and flat) if they are asleep.
It will be hard going to start with! Running with the buggy is a skill in itself that takes time to master, as well as trying to build up fitness. By being patient, adopting a little and often or walk/run sessions, and adding some home strength exercises to compliment your running, it will get easier. Once up to speed, you will have a great way to get in some exercise and enjoy being out and about with your little one! My favorite activity is to run one way to a coffee shop, have a coffee and a play and then come home on the bus. I feel good as I get my exercise in and my son is happy as we get to go on a bus!! Win win!!!!
Overall, buggy running when done safely is an awesome exercise, so get out there and enjoy! If you have any questions or want more tips and tricks, including how to return to running or strength training sessions post-partum, just get in touch.