As many of you know, doing an exercise with incorrect form can cause imbalances or potential injury. While we often think about the way we hold our bodies when exercising but how many of you have thought about what your body is doing while you push your pram? You are probably wondering how a simple action like pushing a pram could cause you any issues? Let me explain… Yes, going out for walks with your baby in the pram has many benefits and can be a great form of exercise for new mothers. There is also the potential for a really great resistance workout, particularly if you live in a hilly area or dependant on how many children you are carting around. The problems start when you are met with that extra resistance or load, and this is where correct technique is important.
How often have you thought about your posture alignment while you are pushing your pram? As a new mother, good posture and core engagement are vital to ensure you are moving correctly and not adding any extra pressure to your pelvic floor or core muscles. Many common errors of pushing a pram include flexing and straining the wrists and hunching over the pram while rounding the upper back. This may prevent certain postnatal conditions such as diastasis recti from healing, but it can also cause further injury to any postnatal exercise routine. With this in mind, injury recovery time can end up putting your fitness goals on hold.
Fit your pram to you!
You should first ensure you choose a pram carefully. A pram should be able to adjustable the height settings so that it can be moved to suit your height and anyone else who will be using it. This will help to prevent your shoulders and upper back hunching forward and down, as this will cause redistribution of your weight causing your muscles to incorrectly compensate.
Your muscles are great at finding the easiest way to function. This isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to move. Your back muscles, neck muscles, chest muscles, and shoulder muscles will usually be stressed from either breastfeeding, or holding your baby and will be trying to respond by attempting to keep balance, even if they have to maintain a less efficient position.
How should you correctly push a pram?
- Keep your wrists straight. Bent wrists put an unnecessary amount of strain and pressure on your joints. A straight line should run from your elbows to your knuckles. Make sure you check every now and again to make sure you are in fact keeping your arms in a straight line.
- Your hands should rest comfortably on the pram’s handlebars. If they do not, adjust the handle or if possible, purchase an extensor portion to the handlebar. You do not need to fit yourself to the pram. The pram should be fitted and suited for you. Your hands should sit at approximately hip height.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent. The elbows should be slightly out and in line with the trunk of your body while pushing the pram. You do not want the elbow joints locked in place. This can add stress to the muscles and joints.
- Walk with your hips close to the pram. When walking, particularly up an incline, many women will straighten their arms, hinge their hips back and drop their head, and raise their shoulders. As you can see in the picture below, this movement is also very quad dominate, therefore you are not even giving your glutes a chance to get a good workout. It will also place a lot of strain on your neck, shoulders, and lower back.
- You also need to remember that due to the strain and possibly tearing of the abdominals during pregnancy, many women find themselves prone to lower back pain. This can be triggered by bad posture and lack of core muscle engagement when pushing a pram. The core should be contracted to protect the lower back. Doing so can help ease you back into using and strengthening those forgotten-about and weakened abdominal muscles.
- If you are having trouble engaging the core, practice can help! To strengthen the transverse abdominal muscles, think of a tight rope pulling your hip bones together or stopping the flow of urine or passing wind. To carefully re-strengthen your core muscles, practice holding the contraction for 5 seconds and doing 10 repetitions 2-3 times a day.
- Furthermore, on hills, your glutes should be activated to protect the lower back and ensure proper postural alignment at all times. Squeeze those glutes when you hit those tough hills and of course, double check to make certain that you are maintaining other correct pram pushing techniques.
- Keep your chest up and your shoulders down and back. Look forward. Do not hunch over or toward the pram. It will, again, make sure you keep proper posture throughout your walks with the pram. A simple trick to keeping the shoulders properly aligned involves thinking about gently pinching the shoulder blades down or keeping your shoulders away from the ears. Small cues can serve as reminders on how to properly adjust.
Don’t stress once you start using these small tips they’ll become second nature and will make a huge difference in your postpartum exercise journey.
– Wrist Straight, elbows bent
– Hips close to pram, draw belly button in and engage your core
– Chest open and shoulders away from you ears.
If done properly, walking with a pram with your little one can provide a great cardio workout. Make sure to check your form! Correcting them when noticed are essential to preventing painful injuries such as muscle strains. It also doesn’t hurt to keep checking throughout your walk/run, especially when you start to fatigued. This can ensure you are not compensating via bad posture towards the end of your workout. Please remember – if you’re dealing with any post pregnancy issues, please contact your healthcare professional. These problems can be fixed and are better treated early, It is incredible how quickly you can see your body improve once you have identified and addressed even the smallest of positions or everyday movements. Now is the time to start.
Written By Krissy Pinn