How to turn walking with a baby buggy into a great workout

"I experimented by applying the Chi Running principles. It worked for me" - Mary Jennings

Buggy goal My aim is to return home with a clearer head – and, ideally, a sleeping baby.

I have spent a lot more time pushing a buggy over the past six months than I had originally envisaged. Thankfully, I have a baby who enjoys fresh air as much as I do.

We are both in better form after our leisurely daily walks. There is no focus on speed, fitness or distance. My aim is to return home with a clearer head and ideally a sleeping baby.

Learner driver

Initially, pushing the buggy felt awkward. Arm position, stride length and general posture are all different than walking solo. As new parents, we focus on making sure the baby is safe and secure in the buggy but forget that our buggy-pushing efforts and buggy set-up may impact our own health and cause injury.

It’s important that we consider our comfort as well that of baby.

Listen to your body

With all the settings and fancy gadgets in our modern buggies, most of us stick with the default and never change the handle height. But in the same way as we all adjust a car seat when we move into a different car, we need to make sure the buggy fits our body each time we use it.

Don’t just use the settings your partner uses. As the baby gets heavier, it’s even more important to have good technique in lifting, carrying and pushing the baby along.

Effortless movement

Just like running, some people look effortless with the buggy while others look tense and uncomfortable. I certainly want to be the former.

With no manual for buggy walking technique, I decided to experiment by applying the Chi Running principles to this newly acquired load. Now that my running was taking a back seat, working on my technique became a new opportunity to focus on making the most of time on the road while possibly helping my future running.

Walk tall

Bending at the waist when pushing a buggy places added pressure through the neck, shoulders and wrists. The legs also have to work harder and there is added burden on the lower back. Focusing on a tall yet relaxed posture is the single biggest tip that has worked for me.

As soon as I bend at the waist I can feel the increased effort. Walk tall, imagining a string from your head keeping you upright, but make sure you don’t tense your arms and legs.

Lower the handle

If you have to raise your shoulders or arms to reach your buggy handle, then it is too high. The resting position should feel comfortable and may possibly be lower than you think. Carrying a baby is enough pressure on our body without adding more pressure to the upper back and neck just to grip the handle of the buggy. The handle of my buggy is hip height. Any higher and I have to lift my shoulders to compensate.

Move from your centre

Imagine a bar between your belly button and buggy handle. Focus on moving from your centre as if you are pushing that bar forward. When I move from my centre, the legs follow and the pressure is taken off the upper body. Keep your body reasonably close to the handle. The further you move your body away from the buggy, the more the effort transfers to your limbs from your core.

Relax your grip

If your handle is positioned right, you won’t need to grip hard to push the buggy. In fact, if you are moving from your centre and standing tall, your arms and shoulders will need to do very little but support the direction of movement. As you move, notice if you are holding the handle tightly. Relax your hands and your shoulders and neck will instantly relax too.

Pick up your feet

When all the tips above work together, you will notice that the buggy moves along without having to take long strides to push it. Simply focus on picking your feet up off the ground rather than landing with a bang.

Small steps work best. Consider your feet just another set of wheels behind the buggy. Pick up the foot lightly and let gravity bring it down again.

Uphill with a buggy

Walking with a buggy can be a workout, especially if you live in a hilly area. Try keeping your centre close to the buggy rather than bending at the waist and putting the pressure on the arms and legs. Think tall, take small steps and feel that the bar from your centre is carrying the buggy up ahead of you. Imagine your feet are walking upstairs rather than taking long strides.

Ready to run

Whatever your sport of choice, take time to recover after having your baby. Don’t get frustrated that you are not as fit as you might have expected to be by now. Do what you can to prepare for your fitness comeback by focusing on strength and technique while walking.

As I enter my sixth month post-baby, I feel my body is now ready for some easy running, but I will leave the buggy at home for that. It’s finally time for some “me” time.

Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with ForgetTheGym.ie. She trains beginners and marathoners and everyone in between to enjoy running and stay injury-free. Jennings is also the creator of all our Irish Times Get Running programmes: Beginners Get Running, Get Running 10k and Get Running Stay Running.

irishtimes
workoutwithababybuggy workout withbaby
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in february
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Society
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
Society
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
Society
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Society
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
Society
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Society
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
Society
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Society
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....