When it comes to pushing your stroller, proper posture and alignment is key. Before beginning to exercise with your baby and stroller, it’s important to learn the basics of how to properly push your baby without adding pressure to your core, or you may find your diastasis recti worsening even while you workout!
By the end of this lesson, you’ll understand proper stroller technique for staying “tummy-safe” as well as how to choose the right buggy for your needs.
Stroller Safety Considerations for Diastasis Recti
When it comes to impact on your pelvic floor, core and back if not done properly, pushing a heavy object, like a stroller, is no different than lifting a heavy object. Just as you would do when lifting any heavy object, be sure to keep your core engaged and avoid lower back injury and strain by bending at your hips rather than your back when you’re lifting your stroller in and out of vehicles.
When walking, keep the stroller centered to your body and focus on posture and alignment. It’s common to see moms pushing a stroller with the elbows locked, hunching over the stroller, and straining wrists to grip the handle. This causes strain on the pelvic floor and entire posterior chain, and can keep your diastasis from healing properly. Instead, here’s what proper posture and alignment while pushing a stroller looks like…
Proper Posture + Alignment:
• Head, chin and chest up
• Shoulders back and down
• Ears above your shoulders
• Walking closely to the stroller
• Arms slightly bent but not locked
• Wrists straight
• Core is engaged
Staying Tummy-Safe with Your Stroller
As a busy mom myself, I understand the mountain of obstacles that new moms face when it comes time to exercise. You want to look good, feel great and have the energy you need to keep up with your little one, yet sleep deprivation and crazy infant feeding schedules (on top of the million of other things you have going on) make it tough to get in any kind of routine.
According to a study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, mothers with young children are less likely to get even the minimum amount of exercise they need to stay healthy than women of similar age without kids.
New moms have to figure out how to take care of their little ones while also taking care of themselves!
Time is limited for busy moms. Our time is so short to exercise and it’s also short to be with our kids… but if you can combine the two?! That’s the best of both worlds! First and foremost, I love stroller walks. Walking can be done safely by anyone, no matter what the condition of your core.
Here are 4 tummy safe tips to start walking with your stroller:
1. Pace Yourself – When you are ready to start moving postpartum, it’s always a good idea to pace yourself. Start walking slowly, being conscious of keeping proper posture and alignment.
2. Go Flat First – Avoid hilly areas as you build core strength and endurance. As your core becomes stronger, you’ll be able to maintain proper posture even while pushing uphill, but be aware of your positioning and alignment and go flat first.
3. Start Short – Starting with just 5-10 minute walks per day will build up strength and endurance. Add a few minutes each day, in conjunction with some stroller strengthening exercises until you can successfully complete a 30 minute walk while maintaining proper posture and alignment.
4. Watch Closely – When you begin using your stroller, watch closely. Look for signs of strain, improper posture, intra-abdominal pressure, urine leakage, etc. These are all signs of over exertion and should be avoided.
In addition to stroller walks, and eventually even sprints, I love to use my stroller for core strengthening exercises as well. Remember when working on strengthening exercise for your core that you must always engaged your core and pelvic floor before movement.
5 Tummy Safe Stroller Exercises :: Video Below!
Note: always check with your pediatrician and follow the stroller’s recommendations for proper usage. Most recommend the use of an infant car seat and adapter on your stroller until your baby is at least six months old, as most babies can’t hold their head up until that age.
1. Stroller Heel Drops! Put your break on and lay a blanket or yoga mat in front of your stroller. Lay down directly in front of your stroller with your head at the end of the blanket and your feet resting on the platform above the front wheel. Exhale as you engage your core and pelvic floor and drop one heel to the ground. Relax as you inhale, then repeat switching heels.
2. Stroller Heel Slides! Lock the front wheel and lay a blanket or yoga mat in front of your stroller. Lay down directly in front of your stroller with your head at the end of the blanket and your feet resting on the platform above the front wheel. Start with both knees bent. Exhale as you engage your core and pelvic floor, sliding one heel slowly away from your body, adding resistance by pushing the stroller. Inhale, relax, engage your pelvic floor, and draw your leg (And stroller) back in. Repeat switching heels.
3. Stroller Lunges! Stand behind your stroller with your hands on the handlebar shoulder-width apart. Exhale, engaged your core and pelvic floor, and lunge forward with one leg, pushing the stroller out in front of you. Your knee should be directly above your ankle and your thigh parallel to the ground. In hale and return to the standing position and lunge with the other leg.
4. Stroller Squats! Stand behind your stroller with your hands on the handlebar shoulder-width apart. Exhale, engage your core and pelvic floor, and with your feet and knees forward, squat down as if sitting on a chair. In the video below, you’ll see me showing the difference between knees over toes and knees over heels, even though I forgot to point it out! You should always keep your weight in your heels with your knees directly above your ankles, and your toes tracking with your knees. (Be careful not to put weight on the stroller; you don’t want it to tip) Inhale as you squeeze your rear-end and return to the starting position. Click here for Beth’s article on Fit2B about proper squatting form.
5. Stroller Row! Get in proper squat position (See above) This time, instead of .squatting and returning to a standing position, you will hold your squat and add a stroller row. Your feet should be set about as wide as your hips, hands about shoulder width apart on the stroller. Exhale as you engage your core and pelvic floor and push stroller roll forward so your arms are extended, then use your upper back muscles to pull the stroller back in to you. Inhale as you focus on a strong core and back to pull the stroller in towards your body. Repeat.
Watch me demonstrate those exercises in this video:
How to Choose a Stroller for Exercise
A traditional stroller is not safe for exercising with a baby. Most traditional strollers lack the features necessary to reduce the jarring shocks that a baby could be subjected to from moving quickly over uneven surfaces.
If you plan to use your stroller for exercise, here are 3 features to look for:
1. Locking front wheel – Exercising with a traditional stroller may cause the wheels to start wobbling. For safety for you and your baby, exercise strollers offer a locking front wheel feature that allows you to secure the front wheel in a straight position when needed.
2. Larger tires – strollers that are suitable for exercise should have tires that are 16″ or larger diameter wheels in the rear, and 12″ or larger in the front . While ordinary strollers may have plastic wheels, exercise strollers have tires that are filled with air so that they reduce the shock to your baby and roll over bumps easier.
3. Suspension – Exercise strollers almost always include a suspension in order to absorb shock and prevent injury to your baby.
At first glance, the number of jogging/exercise strollers can be intimidating. Before rushing out and buying a stroller, take a few for a test “run” (walk around the store) to ensure the proper fit.
The key: Look for a stroller that fits your height and promotes a comfortable stride with proper posture and alignment (see above). If necessary, consider buying an extender for your stroller handle to increase the height and ensure proper posture.
Other factors to consider when purchasing a stroller:
• Terrain – you want your stroller to roll easily over all terrain, so consider when and where you will be using your stroller.
• Weight – some strollers can be extremely heavy. If you’ll be lifting your stroller in and out of vehicles, it’s important to look for a stroller that is lightweight and manageable.
• Safety strap – consider a stroller with a safety strap where one end attaches to the stroller and the other end has a loop to wear around your wrist if you plan to run with your stroller at any time.
• Peek-a-boo window – many strollers offer this window on the canopy to keep an eye on your baby while on the move.
• Handlebar Adjustment – An adjustable handle bar is a great feature to look for to ensure proper posture and alignment
The Highest Rated Exercise Strollers I’m familiar with:
Baby Trend Expedition Jogger ($) pictured below
BOB Revolution SE Single Stroller ($$) picture at top of lesson
Well, that’s all for this lesson, but I would sure like to help you further if you feel I can assist you. Just reach out to me through Beyond Fit Mom or my facebook page, and I’ll be ready to answer any questions you may have!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out everything else Fit2B has to offer here!