Running with a stroller is hard work and a big part is because it feels unnatural. Your legs move when you swing your arms, but you can’t swing your arms! Instead, you’re pushing dozens of pounds in front of you. And with all that effort, it can be hard to maintain good stroller running form.
Many runners will hunch over the stroller and hurt their neck or backs. Other will push the stroller with just their upper bodies, tiring them out quickly. Many runners will run using their dominant arm to push the stroller, leading to imbalances in their stride and strength.
Thankfully, stroller running feels easier and is safer to do if you practice good running form. That’s great news because running with a stroller can be a lifeline for new moms—a time to get outside with their little ones to spend some quality time in nature, a time to exercise and feel like themselves, and also a time that helps the babies NAP.
I am here to help you maintain good stroller running form so that you can maintain good mental and physical health—and impart this on your babe.
To write this piece, I got with THE stroller mile record holder Neely Gracey on proper stroller running form. Neely is a 2:30 marathoner and founder of Get Running Coaching.
In this article, I will cover:
- When is it okay to start running with a stroller?
- How to introduce stroller running for you and your baby
- Top stroller running form mistakes to avoid, and
- 7 tips for how to run with a stroller with proper form
Related: 12 Genius Stroller Running Tips
Is it okay to run with a stroller?
First things’ first, this article is about running with a jogging stroller or running stroller—a stroller meant for running. You should not run with a regular stroller as this isn’t safe for you or your baby. A jogging stroller has features meant for running like a suspension system, fixed front wheel capability, hand brake, sun shade, rain cover, air-filled tires, and a wrist strap.
What are the best running strollers?
There are plenty of good jogging strollers but the best running strollers are:
- Bob Revolution Flex 3.0
- Thule Chariot Sport Light
- Thule Urban Glide 2.0
- Guava Rome Jogging Stroller (used by Neely to set the world record stroller mile)
- Benecykl Freedom Pushchair
- Mountain Buggy Terrain Active Stroller
- Phil and Teds Sporty Inline
Get the complete running stroller review here.
How soon can I run with baby in stroller?
You can run with your baby in the run stroller at six months (and when YOU feel ready). This is when your infant’s neck strength is developed enough to hold his or her head up. However, if you have an infant car seat adapter that goes with your stroller, many moms will run sooner using that.
This is not recommended by pediatricians due to dangers of tipping over. Moms who run using a car seat adapter stay on quiet roads on straight flat surfaces and do not run fast. (Parent runners should always try to avoid uneven surfaces, busy roads, and sharp turns.)
Before the six-month mark, go for walks utilizing the car seat adapter to prep your body and baby for stroller running.
Neely reminds us of the benefits of getting outside and moving our bodies, “It fights off fatigue and gives a healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air while boosting everyone’s mood. This rebuilds mom’s strength in a safe, low impact way and gets baby used to the stroller for longer rides once they’re bigger.”
How much slower do you run pushing a stroller?
You will run at least one minute per mile slower pushing a jogging stroller—slower if you are running with a stroller uphill. This is because you are running with a lot extra weight–the running stroller itself with a human inside! Therefore, it provides resistance as you push it. This extra resistance will make you run slower because your body is working hard to cover the distance.
How do you get used to running with a stroller?
New parents need to ease into stroller running. Do this for yourself…and your child. Like any new experience or variable, it takes time for your body and for your child’s mind to adapt!
When you head out the door for the first time, throw expectations out the window. Just focus on getting outside and moving your body with no set distance or time.
Know your typical heart rate zone during easy runs without the stroller, then aim for that with the stroller using time over distance. Build gradually in five-to-ten-minute chunks.
If you walked with the stroller prior to running, it will likely be a quicker adjustment for you and your baby.
How can I get my child used to stroller running?
Neely suggests keep you child in the stroller longer so you can run farther by:
- playing games like “I Spy”
- bring toys along that can be secured to the stroller
- lots of snacks (safe snacks) like pouches so there’s no risk of choking
- sing songs or turn tunes up to enjoy together
- do destination runs to parks, construction site, ice cream trucks, or a friend’s house
- run during nap time (always a good idea! And can maybe even sneak in a long run during this time)
Get more tips for entertaining your kids in the stroller here.
What are top stroller running form mistakes people make?
The top stroller running form mistakes people make, according to Neely, include:
- Hunching over and not standing upright
- Running with straight arms
- Bending at the hips and disengaging the glutes—this breaks down the chain of power with each step
- Not switching arms
- Using your upper body instead of whole body to push the stroller
Related: Fix Your Running Form
How do you run with a stroller?
So, how do we avoid making these stroller running form mistakes? By using good form when running with the stroller. Running properly with the stroller will save you from injury, especially lower back pain and hip flexor strains, and also give you more power in your stride so that stroller running feels easier.
Essentially, you want to get as close to proper running form without a stroller. Proper running form is running with good posture:
- your head over your shoulders,
- shoulders over your hips,
- hips over mid-foot, and
- feet are landing under your bent knee (slightly ahead of your center of gravity),
- arms are bent at 90-degrees, relaxed, and swinging near your sides,
- and fingers are lightly placed together like you’re holding one potato chip between your index finger and thumb.
But your form changings when pushing a stroller. Here’s how to maintain proper running form with a stroller.
7 Stroller Running Form Tips
Here are the top stroller running form tips from stroller mile world record holder Neely Gracey:
1. Keep your hips under your body.
Many stroller runners will lean too far forward at the hips or push their hips and butt behind them. Instead, you want to maintain good posture, standing tall and in alignment just as you would when running without a stroller. You won’t be running stick straight though. You should have a slight lean from the ankles—not from the waist.
2. Stand tall.
I can’t reiterate enough how important it is not to hunch. Stand tall and tuck your pelvis to activate your glutes. Hunching breaks the kinetic chain which can steal power and lead to injury and make stroller running feel harder.
3. Relax your shoulders.
As you practice good posture, drop your shoulders away from your ears. This will help you relax your upper body so you move more fluidly. When we get tired (even without a stroller), we tend to crunch up our shoulders (listen to my coach tell me to relax my shoulders in this video of my running my 2:54 Carmel marathon). This is a good cue to remember for regular runs without the stroller!
4. Keep your elbows bent.
Don’t run with straight arms with the stroller far away from you. First, this is an unnatural way to run. Think how weird it would be to see something running with their arms straight out in front of them. Not very energy efficient! Second, this increases the risk of losing control of the stroller. Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees like you would normally to maintain control and power.
5. Switch hands.
Meanwhile, switch the hands and arms you are using the push the stroller. This will keep your arms fresher so you can wrong longer. It will also minimize risk for injury or muscle imbalances from the body moving differently on each side. The only time you won’t switch arms is if you happen to me running on lots of hills and need to use the wrist strap. You should use the wrist strap all the time, but it can be annoying to switch if you have a wrist band on, so something to keep in mind…
6. Push with your whole body.
It seems natural to push the stroller with your upper body since that’s where the contact is being made. However, this will tire you out quicker, make stroller running feel harder, and is very energy inefficient! Instead, engage your whole body when pushing, driving force from your hips and glutes. This should be easy to do since the handlebar is right at your waist. Also, instead of using arm muscles, try to push from your latissimus dorsi muscles, says Neely. This is a bigger muscle group so won’t fatigue so easily.
7. Focus on quick turnover.
You’ll get tired less if you run with shorter steps. Neely suggests trying to have a cadence of 170 or higher. Tell yourself to take quick, light steps keeping your feet under your body with your feet facing forward. This will keep you from over-striding which is one of the main causes of running injuries (where your foot lands in front of your shin). Like with the others, this tip will also help your regular running form and increase running energy efficiency.
Related: What’s a Good Running Cadence?
Quick note on running hills with the stroller. DO NOT DO IT. I’m just kidding. But man, it’s hard. For going uphill, just do your best and know you’re a beast. For going downhill, make sure you are using a wrist strap. Personally, I usually walk the downhills as I don’t want to risk losing control of the stroller.
If you want guidance with your running goals including training for a race with a stroller, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
- Postpartum Training Plan
- After a Break Training Plan
- 5k Training Plans
- 10k Training Plans
- Half Marathon Training Plans
- Marathon Training Plans
- Strength Training Plan