Running with a baby or toddler means running with a Jogging Stroller. These three-wheeled strollers have large diameter wheels with rubber tires to handle terrain and make the ride more comfortable for the young one by absorbing some impact. Manufacturers of Jogging Strollers with pivoting front wheels generally recommend locking the front wheel so it does not pivot, when the Jogging Stroller is used at jogging speeds, so front wheels don’t accidentally pivot on rough terrain and cause the stroller to jackknife. Jogging Strollers generally come with tethers that are meant to be attached to the parent, so if the parent falls, the stroller cannot roll away. Because the stroller is meant for use at speeds, a hand brake is generally included, and some Jogging Strollers come with brakes directly on the wheels, for locking the stroller in a stopped position. Strollers generally sit infants with good neck and torso control, but some strollers like the BOB can be outfitted with an infant seat adapter, so younger children can use the stroller in their car seat. All strollers come with child restraints / belts that should fit the child snugly and be used at all times.
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Child Tolerance of Running Conditions
Like anything with wheels traveling fast, a Jogging Stroller bounces when it encounters bumps. Control of the stroller in terms of placement on the path, number of wheels down (ideally three, although this changes in order to turn the stroller or potentially avoid large obstacles), and speed (use that brake!) can change how the bumps are experienced by your infant or toddler. Similarly, seat placement and addition of seat liners can control how the baby or toddler moves in response to bumps; infant car seats generally hold the child in a stable position (especially if an inserted seat liner reduces the head movement of a small child) while seat liners can reduce the linklihood of a baby sliding around in the seat.
Test your child in the jogger while you walk quickly, before you commit to a run. See how your child responds to bumps; head and neck control should be good so as to avoid “whiplash” or concussions! If your child enjoys the bumps or finds the bumps soothing enough to be lulled to sleep, your child may be game for riding along on a jog. Beware, however, that a run might be analagous to a roller coaster for you, and can lead to symptoms you might experience on a roller coaster, if it lasts too long or is too rough. Watch your child to avoid vomiting (although a certain level is expected for young children, even when not in motion). Also watch your child of signs of discomfort – (s)he may be getting a workout holding him/herself upright, and may need a break. Similarly, (s)he may tire of bumps or become overstimulated by constantly changing scenery, and want the run to stop. I never plan a run longer than 1 hour, for my child, but all children are different. You must pay attention to cues to know what your child can tolerate.
Running When Recovering from Pregnancy
My first runs occured soon after the birth of my son. My legs and lungs were eager to get back to aerobic work, but I did notice certain body areas that needed special consideration. My lower back, tailbone, and pelvis had all opened up in their own ways during my pregnancy and labor, and their repositioning after labor was a long process, partially based on hormones and redevelopment of muscle and connective tissue. My pelvic floor was loose and weak, as were my abs, leading to sloppy posture and gait. I recommend focussing on good posture and slowing running pace to enable this. Breaking some running with walking helped me center myself, so I could improve my posture and gait, as well. As organs were shrinking and repositioning, I also found it difficult to control my bladder. Keeping runs slower, easier, and visiting a bathroom at the beginning and end of the run helped with this problem.
Increased Resistance with Strollers
When I started running with my son, I “dragged.” It was to be expected that my stamina and endurance for running were not what they had been some 9 months before, but I began to feel like running was a real struggle! One day, my husband volunteered to watch my son so I could go on my first run, solo, and WOW – I could run! Realize that strollers add a good deal of resistance to your workout. Not only are they heavy and sometimes difficult to maneuver, but when using them, you cannot use your arms to help in your running.