Running with my 10-month-old niece, or rather pushing her stroller, was not fun at all.
Running was quite difficult and if I increased the pace the stroller shook so much that it became uncomfortable for little Tena, and for myself as well.
I decided to learn more about jogging strollers and see whether it would be worth it to invest in one and whether it was safe for the child.
Are Jogging Strollers Safe?
Jogging strollers are safe for all children whose neck and upper body muscles are strong enough. It is recommended to run only on a smooth surface with a child between 8 and 12 months of age. You should wait at least until the child is 12 months old to run on uneven terrain.
TipBefore you start using jogging strollers consult your pediatrician to make sure that your child’s neck and upper body muscles are strong enough.
Research has shown that in the period between 1990 and 2010 around 360,000 children under the age of 5 in the USA had injuries caused by strollers and required emergency medical service. In other words, two children are injured every hour. Falls remain one of the leading causes of injuries.
In the following text I will explain why jogging strollers are safer than standard strollers. At the end, I will also give you advice on how to use them safely.
Why are jogging strollers safer than standard strollers?
They allow you to precisely maneuver during faster running.
Unlike standard strollers, which have two front and two rear wheels, jogging strollers have a single front wheel and two rear wheels. The two front wheels of standard strollers were designed for turning and cannot be locked into a fixed position. This makes it easier for you to maneuver the stroller as you are walking but it also makes it ill-suited for running.
Most newer jogging strollers have a revolving front wheel, but it is also possible to fix it in place with a simple locking mechanism, which then allows you to more precisely maneuver during a faster run. If you happen to hit a rock at a higher speed your front wheel will not turn (if you fixed it in place) and you will be able to continue running safely in the same direction.
They are better at absorbing force as you move across uneven terrain.
Standard strollers usually have plastic wheels, with some having rubber pillows to make them more comfortable. Unlike standard strollers, jogging strollers have rubber wheels with inner tubes, similar to bicycles.
Rubber wheels of jogging strollers are also larger and have much larger and better shock absorbers.
Due to larger rubber wheels and shock absorbers jogging strollers are much better at absorbing force caused by bumps on the uneven terrain, such as gravel in parks, and as a result your child will be much more comfortable in them.
Standard strollers, as well as jogging strollers, have comfortable seats with several incline options. They also have a cover that protects the child from too much sunlight and strong wind.
If you plan to walk across uneven terrain, such as gravel or dirt, a ride in a standard stroller will not be comfortable for your child. Standard strollers were designed for walks on smooth and even surfaces while jogging strollers can be used on any terrain. The body of a child is extremely fragile and any bump in the road can affect the child’s safety.
They allow you to run up and downhill.
Jogging strollers also have a handbrake so that you can more easily control its movement speed on slopes. If you live or simply like to run across hilly terrain, then jogging strollers are the perfect choice for you. Besides being simple to use due to the handbrake they are also much safer for the child.
How to run safely with a jogging stroller?
1. Make sure your child is ready
Before you start running with jogging strollers you should consult a pediatrician to make sure the child is ready. As I have already mentioned at the beginning, you have to make sure your child’s neck and upper body muscles are strong enough. Do not rush and wait several months if necessary.
2. Make sure to use the stroller harness during every run
Mind the harness. Before you begin your run check whether the child is secured safely by the harness. Make sure the straps are firmly fastened so that your child is safe from falling out and unnecessary shaking. Even if you don’t run too quickly the harness will prevent the child from putting his fingers near the wheels.
3. Check the weight limit
Each stroller has a weight limit, check to make sure your child does not exceed the limit.
4. Check the wheels
Before every run examines the wheels and see whether they have enough air in them.
5. Lock the front wheel
If your jogging stroller has a revolving front wheel, make sure to lock it during your run or quick walk. This will prevent the wheel from suddenly turning and prevent possible injuries and falls.
6. Dress your child appropriately
If the weather is cold or windy use the stroller’s cover. Keep in mind that while your body is warm as a result of the run your child’s is not. During cold weather dress, your child in several layers and during warmer days be careful not to use too many. Protect the child with a cover and a sunscreen. Avoid longer runs during heat waves and excessively cold weather.
7. Gradually increase length
Start with shorter running routes. Running with a stroller is much harder so do not feel bad if you are unable to run the same length you have run before.
8. Adjust your running speed
Run slower than usual to make sure you have complete control. Research has shown that running speed is slower by approximately 45 seconds per kilometer when running with a jogging stroller.
9. Pick smooth, even running surfaces
In the beginning you should avoid slopes. Start with smooth and even terrain so that your child, just like you, can enjoy the run.
10. Hills are a real challenge
Hills are a challenge even when you run without a stroller, so imagine the difficulty a stroller will add. If necessary, walk the slope, it will not ruin your run.
11. Mind your technique
You will have to be more mindful of your running technique during the first couple of runs. If you accidentally kick the stroller during your run, then shorten your steps. Keep your back straight and keep your elbows close to your body.
12. Switch hands
Push the stroller with one hand and swing the other. Pushing a stroller hinders your natural arms movement. Both arms have to work equally so make sure your switch hands often to prevent injuries.
13. Do not push the stroller away from you, always maintain control
Pushing the stroller away as you run is not the best idea. Doing so will result in loss of control over the stroller and will endanger your child.
14. Pick a stroller with an armband
Find a stroller with an armband attached to the handle. This is especially useful on slopes because it will prevent the stroller from being pushed away.
15. Lock the handbrake when the stroller stops
Always lock the handbrake when you stop, especially when on a slope.
Hi, I’m Matea! I’m an Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…