Once cleared for running, you may absolutely love sharing the experience with your baby! It is fun for them – they love the speed! It is incredible for you to finally be back in your happy place. Having a co-pilot is fun. Packing snacks and making picnic adventures en route is a bonus. Cooling off at the splash pad in the summer becomes a great option. It can make your worlds collide as the new “Mom” finds common ground with the old “Pre-Mom Runner” you.
I ran with both of my kids, up until about age three. Here are some practical tips from experience for running with babies and toddlers:
1. Posture! I cringe when moms push strollers up hill in a forward flexed position, bent forward at the waist. Ouch. Please do not run that way either. Test the handle height of jogging strollers you are considering – does it adjust? Does the handle sit just below your boobs? That’s where you want it. Hold the handle with elbows tucked in as a row with the stroller close to you. This is your running position. Your body weight will assist in pushing the stroller. Stay tall and lean from the ankles and do not lean forward at your waist!
2. Safety first. Please put a helmet on your child. You are pushing a moving vehicle and accidents can happen. If you are strong enough to be running before your baby fits a 12 month helmet, put a hat underneath. A five point harness is mandatory. When shopping for a stroller look for features such as weight, weight limitation, handle height, weather cover options, easily adjustable straps, hand brake, wrist tether, foot brake lock, rotation of front wheel, shock system and storage. Invest in a running stroller.
3. Stay focused. Running with a stroller requires extra attention. No daydreaming in the “zone”. We should probably always run with such mindfulness, with or without baby.
4. Listen to your body. Monitor your symptoms. How does your pelvis feel after a run? Do your hips or lower back hurt? Does your abdomen appear more distended after a run? Are your pelvic floor symptoms increasing? If so back it off and ramp up your restorative work.
5. Postnatal running is contingent upon a comprehensive program, encompassing:
- Restorative core – a specialized program to rehabilitate the Core 4, or inner unit- diaphragm, pelvic floor, transverse abdominus and multifidus.
- Strength – specifically core and glute medius for improved pelvic stability control.
- Flexibility – dynamic stretching and fascial mobilization.
- Release and activations targeted towards offsetting compensatory strategies from core weakness and weak pelvic stability control.
- Run Program – a strict progressive gentle “Return to Running” program customized by a postnatal specialist.
Run smart and you will continue running injury free. If you ignore the basics of training in postnatal condition, you are setting yourself up for injury. Once you are strong enough, enjoy the limited of time of running with a stroller – before you know it your kids will be riding bikes beside you!
My last piece of advice is to carve out those solo runs. There really is nothing like the one-on-one time with yourself on a solo run. Don’t feel bad if running with your baby isn’t the same. It isn’t supposed to be, but it can be fun. Once you are back on a program you can make (guilt-free!) time for those precious moments alone – you deserve it after all!